Staff Spotlight: Dr Andrew Edwards

Blog written by Dr Andrew David Edwards. Dr Edwards is a historian of Early America, capitalism, and money, focusing on the American Revolution. 

During my first week of graduate school, one of my professors asked the class to explain on a single sheet of paper why we wanted to study history and make a life out of it. I don’t remember what I wrote. But I do remember what Joppan George, a second-year student (and now a postdoc at the University of Leiden), told me he had written the previous year: “I write history because history writes me.”

And that’s the truth. I became interested in writing American history, in studying the past, because of the way the history of the United States shaped my own life. I am not from a college family. But I was interested from the beginning in understanding the world around me. That interest led to several questionable decisions. I dropped out of college twice before I was 21. First, to travel to Europe, and second, to take a full-time job at a local newspaper. There, I became interested in the financial institutions driving change in both my seemingly idyllic redwood-clad county and the wider American West. The place to learn more, I thought, was New York. I bought a one-way round-the-world ticket from San Francisco to New York via Hongkong, Bangkok, New Delhi, and Paris, only to get stranded two months into the journey, passport and plane ticket stolen, in the eastern foothills of the Himalayas. I decided to stay.

I ended up spending the better part of a year in Nanjing, in the Yangtze valley near Shanghai. My apartment overlooked the long-flooded drydocks used six centuries earlier to build the fleet Zheng He took to East Africa. The air was thick with construction debris. Beyond the canal, high rises topped with neon-lit neoclassical temples leaned slightly off vertical. More were rising. Across the street, a factory closed, its workers fighting for space on the bus meant to take them back to villages outside the city, hanging out of the windows as it pulled away. The factory was demolished. A lakeside park replaced it. The park was torn up and replaced by a big-box department store. All in a matter of months. China’s imperial history was everywhere. Uighur children sold snacks in a lakeside park. An old man who remembered the aftermath of the Japanese army’s atrocities in Nanjing in the 1930s told me about how he was glad that America had dropped the atom bomb because it meant a wealthy, powerful China didn’t have to.

After an eye-opening year, I arrived in New York in 2003 and began a three-year round of baking, alternative-press internships, freelance gigs, and event production that culminated, finally, in a reporting job at the heart of global financial journalism in time for the 2008 financial crisis. Reporting on that crisis was my awakening to history. I wondered why it had happened and where the system that caused it had come from, all questions that could only be answered in History. I began taking night classes at Columbia University and finished my undergraduate degree in American History at 29. Six years later, I completed a doctorate at Princeton University, and, this January, started a job at St. Andrews.

I write history because history wrote me. My work on the history of money, the American Revolution, and now my teaching at St Andrews, is focused on how we can explore the past to understand how history is still writing today. 

Staff Spotlight: Guilherme Fians

Dr Guilherme Fians is a Leverhulme Research Fellow working on the interdisciplinary project ‘Sharing knowledge in Esperanto: From expert to participatory cultures, 1900/2000’. His research focuses on how languages and media have been mobilised throughout history for the (re)production of certain viewpoints about political and scientific issues. You can follow Guilherme on Twitter @guilhermefians.

In my first year as a young and hopeful BA student in Rio de Janeiro, a friend gave me a collection of books written in Esperanto. Puzzled, I found on Google that Esperanto is a constructed language designed in the late nineteenth-century Russian Empire to enable mutual understanding among people from different national and linguistic backgrounds. Interested in knowing what the books I had received were about, I enrolled in an Esperanto course near my university campus. As I made friends with my course mates, I came to hear about the wonders of the World Congresses of Esperanto and about anarchist groups who used it as a revolutionary language in Western Europe since the 1920s. But why would people hold annual gatherings just for the sake of speaking this language? Also, why would this language be more ‘revolutionary’ than any other? As I asked people these questions, read about the topic, and failed miserably to find a satisfactory explanation, I decided to look for answers myself.

Years later, during my PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, I tried to learn more about how this once ‘revolutionary’ language kept its political relevance (or not) 100 years on, in the early twenty-first century. And this is the history I narrate in Esperanto Revolutionaries and Geeks: Language Politics, Digital Media and the Making of an International Community (2021).

After some detours to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, São Paulo and Brasília, I am currently working with Dr Bernhard Struck, taking Esperanto as an entryway to exploring international communication, translation, and knowledge exchange from the perspectives of digital anthropology, prefigurative politics, and transnational history. My current work develops in two complementary directions.

Firstly, I have been analysing the records of the first translation of the Bible into Esperanto. In the late 1910s, while Zamenhof (Esperanto’s initiator) referred to both Elohim and Jehovah as ‘Dio’ (God) in his translation of the Old Testament, the British Esperanto-speaking priests who translated the New Testament criticised how such terminology would be utterly incompatible with Christianity. Between the words of the Lord and the word choice of the language’s master, who would win the disputes around how to coin Esperanto terms for ‘grace’, ‘forgiveness’, and ‘God’ at a time when the language was still developing its vocabulary?

Secondly – luckily my curiosity prevents me from becoming a fully-fledged ‘Esperanto guy’ – I am leaning towards my background in digital anthropology to look at controversies related to the do-it-yourself approach that sustains the so-called ‘edit wars’ on Wikipedia. In this ‘free encyclopedia that anyone can edit’, how collaborative is knowledge production carried out by voluntary editors who work individually and barely collaborate directly? Exploring Wikipedia’s authorship issues, I analyse the tensions between technoliberalism and the participatory cultures that allegedly feed the internet.

Multilingualism in academia is also key to me. While producing books and articles in English (as expected in a UK university), I also value publishing in other languages as a way of communicating my findings to/with my research participants and non-English-speaking colleagues (in Portuguese, French, German, and Esperanto).

Beyond my academic work, I am passionate about music, cinema, and long walks. Perhaps surprisingly, I do not particularly enjoy learning languages. Due to family commitments – a.k.a. my wife – I have been studying Vietnamese, but language learning reminds me of how communication sometimes involves more miscommunication than actual understanding. At the same time, looking on the bright side, what matters – in academia, as well as in life and in the encounters we have along the way – is to keep the conversation going.

Postgraduate Spotlight: Hebah Alheem

Blog written by Hebah Alheem. Hebah is currently in her second year of PhD in Middle East Studies at the University of St Andrews. Her research revolves around Abbasid poetry, focusing on the zuhdiyyāt of Abū al-ʿAtāhiya. She is a wife and a mother to two wonderful children.

Hebah was born and raised in Kuwait but moved to the UK with her family three years ago. Her keen interest in Arabic language and literature began early and never stopped growing. She started building her own library in primary school and has been filling it with Arabic stories and poetry ever since. Hebah completed her undergraduate degree in Arabic language and literature at the College of Art of Kuwait University, graduating in 2012. Her graduation project centred on Nubāḥ, a novel by Saudi author ʿAbduh Khāl.

After graduating, Hebah was first employed as an Arabic proof-reader at the Ministry of Awqaf in Kuwait, where her duties also included working in the library and transcribing text from audio recordings. After three years in that position, Hebah successfully applied for a job in education, teaching Arabic to non-native Arabic speakers, a role that allowed her to teach students from around the globe and build great friendships with them. She also taught Arabic literature, grammar, reading and speaking at several levels at the ICU centre in Kuwait, where she worked for another three years. Following that, she transferred to another centre to explore other teaching methods and enrolled on a grammar course, ranking first in the final exam.

A year later, Hebah applied for and was awarded a scholarship from Kuwait University and moved to the UK soon after, completing a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Leeds, an experience she found very rewarding. Her MA dissertation focused on free Arab women’s ability to compose ghazal poetry during the first Abbasid era. Hebah has always been interested in the evolution of genres in Arabic poetry, especially those of the Abbasid era.

Hebah’s PhD journey started at the University of St Andrews in May 2021, where she is supervised by Prof Andrew Peacock and Dr Kirill Dmitriev.  Her research centres on the zuhd poetry of Abū al-ʿAtāhiya and aims to trace its evolution during the Abbasid era. This project is very close to Hebah’s heart as she has been aiming to explore this genre since her undergraduate years, having cultivated a very special interest in this particular field.

At the start of her PhD, Hebah moved with her family to Edinburgh.  Since then, they have all harboured great admiration for the wonders of Scottish culture and have made many friends. From the outset of her postgraduate journey, Hebah’s husband and parents have been constantly supportive and helped her get through the pandemic and stressful deadlines, for which she is very grateful.

Outside of academia, Hebah loves to volunteer in different fields, such as translating and teaching Arabic. She greatly enjoys cooking and loves trying out recipes from different cultures and cuisines; her favourite is Japanese cuisine. Hebah has been very enthusiastic about exploring Scotland and is particularly fond of Fife. She enjoys taking long walks in her current hometown of Edinburgh. In 2015, Hebah adopted a minimalist lifestyle and her interest in minimalism is still growing. Her other interests include reading Arabic poetry and novels, and modest fashion; she has designed many of her outfits herself.

Staff Spotlight: Rachel Love

Blog written by Dr Rachel Love. Dr Love is a Research Fellow currently working on the AHRC-funded project ‘Transnational sexual health activism and Aids in Western Europe, 1980s-1990s’.

Dr Rachel Love

When an activist asks you, as they pass you a dusty box filled with homemade fliers and letters that they’ve been storing in some shed where swallows might also be nesting, how on earth you, an American, ended up here in rural Italy—or when you’ve been asked to write an autobiographical blog for the St Andrews School of History—you’ll need a narrative that makes sense of your life so far. The story I tell is this: one night in 2007, as a study-abroad student wandering around Florence’s Piazza della Signoria, I stumbled on street musicians armed with a megaphone and an accordion performing ‘La lega’, a women’s labor song from the early 1900s. Sebben che siamo donne/paura non abbiamo/Abbiam delle belle buone lingue/e ben ci difendiamo (Although we are women/we are not afraid/We have beautiful sharp tongues/and we defend ourselves well). Once I heard that song, I wanted more: to understand popular music, political protest and the stories they tell about modern Italy. After finishing university, teaching English in Milan and waiting tables in Ohio, I earned a PhD from New York University and wrote my small part on Italian protest culture.

As a scholar, I want to tell the histories on the margins that inform and complicate narratives about the past, and I use the lens of media and cultural studies to analyze Italian twentieth-century history. In the School of History, I am working with Nikolaos Papadogiannis on an AHRC-funded project about transnational AIDS activism in Western Europe in the 1980s-1990s. More specifically, I conduct oral history interviews and comb through newsletters, fliers and boxes of condoms to examine how, while confronting deadly disease, violent stigma and the absence of effective state intervention, Italian activists fostered international connections, translated essential information and practiced mutual aid and harm reduction.

I’m also working on my book project, Songbook for a Revolution: Popular Culture and the New Left in 1960s Italy, which is a critical history of an Italian leftist musical collective in the 1960s, the Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano. Through scandalous performances like Bella ciao at the 1964 Spoleto Festival, recorded albums and an influential journal, this group argued that working-class voices offered a potent form of political and cultural expression. In addition to this project, I’ve also published articles on the intersection of Italian anti-Fascism and anti-colonialism as well as folk music as transatlantic exchange in the journals Popular Music, Modern Italy, and Interventions.

I’m delighted to be a part of the School of History community and to participate in its dynamic conversations about the past. I am also delighted that St Andrews (and Edinburgh and Dundee) are much sunnier than I expected, with a golden light at sunset that makes my jaw drop. I even enjoy the near constant yelling of the seagulls, especially the babies nesting on my neighbour’s roof. I’m looking forward to the conference Nikos and I are organizing in August, ‘Reactions to HIV/AIDS since the 1980s: Transnational and comparative history perspectives’, and to exploring more of Scotland while it’s still light out.

Print and Manuscript: USTC Conference 2022

Blog written by Tilly Guthrie. Tilly is in the final month of her MLitt in Book History at the University of St Andrews. Her research focusses on nineteenth-century pre-Braille tactile alphabets.

Members of the USTC team at this year’s conference

The last two weeks have seen another triumph of the Universal Short Title Catalogue’s conference series, centring on the rich and wide-ranging theme of ‘Print and Manuscript’ in the early modern period. Following the success of last year’s online conference drawing participants from around the world, it was decided that this year’s discussions would be divided into two parts: a two-day virtual workshop on Microsoft Teams, followed by the three-day in-person offering. In total this allowed us to hear papers from 36 speakers, covering topics from incunabulae to illustration, annotations to authorship. As demonstrated in a helpful Venn diagram in Julia Smith’s paper on the final day, print and manuscript have a complex and interdependent relationship. Over the course of the conference, it became clear that book historians should abandon the binary framework of print vs manuscript, and instead appreciate the ways in which the two media have interacted and influenced each other over time.

The conference was co-organised by Jacob Baxter (PhD student in Book History) and Dr Falk Eisermann, who introduced the in-person section of the conference by setting out the idea of ‘media convergence’. This was a valuable framework to build on the contributions to the online workshop. Day one began with a panel on ‘hybrid books’. Nora Epstein here provided the useful concept of ‘visual commonplacing’ as a way to understand such volumes as emblem books and alba amicorum. The next online session then examined other ways in which print influenced manuscript (as opposed to the traditional view that it was the opposite way around), but with the important caveat that literacy in manuscript and in print were different skill sets in this period. Such barriers to literacy were not an issue for the scholarly subjects of the next panel, which examined annotation techniques in academic contexts. Details were given of exciting new data projects such as DaLeT and, which will make full use of annotations as a rich source within themselves.

The second and final day of the online workshop saw discussions about collecting practices and the geographical movement of texts, as books accumulated both print and manuscript elements while changing hands. By the end of the day, it is fair to say we were all suitably enthused for the start of the in-person conference the following week.

Day one kicked off in the incunabula age, as Falk Eisermann set out three main categories of print and manuscript interaction in the production of a text: pre-print, in-print, and post-print. Zanna Van Loon then showed how such interactions are recorded for Flemish incunabula on the IMPRESSVM database. In the second panel we heard about how intersections between these media have allowed book producers to experiment with aesthetics and advertising. The final discussion centred on information sharing, in both an educational and journalistic context, where print attempted to recreate the authenticity of manuscript knowledge. Throughout the day we were blessed with beautiful weather, allowing us to make the most of St John’s garden as we got to know each other in the breaks.

The following day saw similarly warm sunshine and fascinating conversations. We picked up with a panel on authorship, the social implications of which have often varied depending on the medium of writing. This led on to a series of papers about the circulation of devotional texts and images and the ways in which they have invited physical interaction. Lastly, we heard about dissent and debate within texts – corrected proof sheets and annotated books served as platforms to consolidate political ideas in manuscript before they later went out to reach a wider audience in print. Brimming with inspiration from a day of stimulating papers, discussions continued into the evening at a wine reception kindly sponsored by the publisher Brill, at their pop-up book stall in the New Seminar Room.

For the final day, the Old Class Library was once again full —an unprecedented attendance for early on Saturday morning, testament to the extraordinary success of the conference. We began with a fascinating panel on printed books with manuscript enhancements: shorthand manuals with handwritten exemplars and annotations as a tool of information management, such as to add detail to a Hebrew dictionary. Finally, there was a series of papers on images and illustrations. This drew together the week’s discussions about print and manuscript enhancing each other aesthetically and allowed the speakers to stress the importance of digitisation in carrying out this analysis.

By the end of the day, everyone left feeling thoroughly impressed, not only by the high quality of papers, but also the seamless organisation and lovely atmosphere. We look forward to seeing the experience consolidated into a published volume—keep an eye out for Brill’s upcoming book: Print and Manuscript.

Postgraduate Spotlight: Nathan Meades

Blog written by Nathan Meades. Nathan is currently in the first year of his PhD in Medieval History at the University of St Andrews. His project focuses on the complex interactions between urban centres and royal authority in late medieval France. He can be contacted at nm263@standrewshistory.

Nathan was born and raised in Stockport, Greater Manchester, where he lived until university. He has always been interested in medieval history, in part because of being exposed to so little of it in school curriculums and, until more recently, on TV and in the media. Museums, castles, and National Trust properties were always stock features of family holidays, and, soon, when relatives asked what he would like for Christmas or birthdays, Nathan started to respond with slightly less conventional requests like G. W. Bernard’s The Late Medieval English Church: Vitality and Vulnerability Before the Break with Rome.

Nathan started his undergraduate degree in history at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, in 2017. Whilst there, his love of medieval history was only reaffirmed, although sometimes sorely tested, particularly during weeks spent studying Augustine’s De civitate Dei and the crisis of the early-fourteenth century!

In the summer of his first year, he spent a week in Lyon doing archival research for an essay on the impact of the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62). He returned enthused not so much by the topic of his essay, but rather by the city’s complicated and fascinating medieval history, which went on to form the basis of his undergraduate dissertation examining citizenship, space, and violence in late medieval Lyon, c.1270-1320. Nathan remained at Cambridge for an MPhil in Medieval History, completed in July 2021, during which he developed his existing work on Lyon by adopting a comparative methodology, studying the forms and articulations of urban memory in the cities of Lyon and Rouen during the period c.1280-1340.

In September 2021 Nathan bid farewell to Cambridge and moved substantially northwards to beautiful St Andrews, which he has grown to really love, in order to start his PhD project, under the supervision of Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker and Professor Frances Andrews and with the generous funding of the Dorothy Miller Scholarship in History. Building upon his previous work on the urban history of medieval France, his project is focused on thinking about the nature, theory, and practice of political relationships in late medieval France. He approaches these questions by examining the encounters between urban communities and French royal power comparatively, through the case-studies of the important cities of Lyon, Rouen, and Toulouse, across the period from the French conquest of Normandy in 1204 until the end of the Capetian dynasty in 1328. His particular interest lies with the host of intermediary actors— royal officers, clerics, nobles, and civic elites, to name just a few—who occupied the vital yet ambiguous and contested medial space between the urban and royal spheres of late medieval political society. These intermediaries were central to constructing, brokering, and sometimes problematising royal-urban relationships, and their significance and interventions can be gleaned from a range of contemporary sources. Nathan is looking forward to getting to grips with the archival material for his project, during a year spent in France next academic year.

Outside of the PhD, Nathan is a keen reader and can be found devouring a range of authors from John Le Carré to Haruki Murakami. He has enjoyed getting to know St Andrews and further exploring Fife when the weather allows. He is also very partial to a game of table tennis!

Parliament and Convention in the Personal Rule of James V, 1528-1542

Blog written by Dr Amy Blakeway. Dr Blakeway is a Lecturer in Scottish History with interests in political history broadly defined, ranging from Parliament and the Privy Council to propaganda and poetry, and in Scotland’s relations with England and France. Her new book Parliament and Convention in the Personal Rule of James V, 1528-1542 is out now with Palgrave Macmillan.

For those of you who don’t know about James V, allow me to introduce one of the (to my mind) most misunderstood and curiously understudied Scottish kings. Sandwiched between the reigns of his roughish renaissance father, King James IV, and his glamourous daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, James V has for too long been lazily characterised as either tyrannous and unable to forge relations with his magnates, or as ‘the poor man’s king’ lauded in a Jack-the-Lad sort of way for his numerous sexual encounters with various of his female subjects.

For those readers familiar with the DA7 shelfmark, however, the King’s reputation has been gradually improving. Studies show James was able to work with most of his nobles most of the time (this was probably about the best any monarch could hope for) and presided over a glamourous court. Meanwhile, legal historians have been busy showing that his reign was a time of major developments for the Court of Session. All of this (alongside leaving his country for a nine month visit to France to secure his marriage to the eldest daughter of the French king, managing some seriously tricky diplomacy with his heretical, gout-ridden and overbearing Uncle Henry VIII, and personally travelling round the country on justice ayres) could only have been achieved with serious cash-raising and organisation, for which he must have had some serious administrative support. This meant parliaments, councils, and conventions—a peculiarly Scottish type of meeting whose highly flexible membership and practices made it especially useful during warfare. Where, then, was the study of his institutions?

I wish that I could honestly say that a consideration of the state of scholarship, as I’ve just outlined above, was what prompted me to write this book. But, reader, that would be a lie. I wrote this book by accident. I thought my second book was going to be about the Anglo-Scottish wars after James’s death during his daughter’s minority, and I actually started researching and writing that. Nobly, I’d begun with the archival work which required me to go to Paris and Provence and was ready to sit down to ask questions about the impact of war on governmental practices. For this, I decided I needed to understand what ‘normal’ parliamentary and conciliar practice had been like under Mary’s father, and so I cast my eyes up and down the DA7 shelves for a helpful book or article on the subject to inform the opening paragraph of chapter 2. There wasn’t anything. Two articles and a monograph later (plus having received a number of custom-ordered mugs bearing the King’s image as gifts), I’m now ready to write that opening paragraph.

There are several major findings from Parliament and Convention which I’ll have to put in it. The big one is probably that institutional meetings played a far larger role in James’s regime than previously realised. These meetings were usually held in a series, with small groups hammering out a broad direction of policy, large groups being summoned to witness (and so endorse) these broad policy directions, and then more exclusive gatherings of experts to hammer out details. The identity of these small groups varied considerably—whilst sometimes they consisted of leading bishops and nobles, when matters of trade were involved they might be made of representatives of Scotland’s burghs. James himself rarely attended these. Instead, he’d send a representative who would present a list of discussion points to a smaller gathering or ask rhetorical questions to a larger gathering leading them to endorse government policy. This made for a highly performative regime, something we also see when thinking about treason. Traditional historiography pointed to the number of treason trials begun in parliament as evidence of James’s vindictive nature. Actually, most of these trials ended in an out of court settlement; parliament then offered an audience for the alleged traitor to reconcile and reintegrate.

I’ll also have to explain that we need to be very cautious with the sources for James’s reign. Many documents from this period appear to have been lost during the 1540s when the English invasion resulted in the sacking of Holyrood and apparently the loss of key governmental registers. Documents which have been described as ‘official parliamentary registers’ since the nineteenth century, for example, were nothing of the sort—these were actually a mixture of notes taken by specific officials and a draft for the first Scottish printing of the Acts of Parliament. And almost all the records were ripped out of their original bindings and had their edges trimmed (removing marginalia) before being reordered and rebound in the nineteenth century. Obviously, this is shocking to modern conservation standards, but appreciating this gives us a starting point to understand what we are looking at and see it for what it is: not the complete records of a lackadaisical regime which paid no care to institutions and record keeping, but a partial glimpse into a sophisticated and efficient operation which keenly understood the power of a well-ordered archive.

So, where does this leave James V? We already knew he was European-facing and glamourous, a patron of poets and historians alike. To this we can add an appreciation of the importance of record-keeping, a flair for organisation, a willingness to heed the advice of experts, and an understanding that timely and clear communication to his subjects was crucial to effective government. Just the sort of monarch, on reflection, whose face you might want on a mug.  

Postgraduate Spotlight: Caroline McWilliams

Blog written by Caroline McWilliams. Caroline began her PhD at St Andrews in 2020. You can follow her on Twitter @CarolineMcW2021.

Caroline grew up in Glasgow, Scotland with her British father and American mother, who were both schoolteachers at the time. From her father came a love of languages, particularly romance languages, and Caroline gained qualifications in French, Spanish, Italian and Latin. Her mother instilled a deep love for history, which has continued to flourish to this day. She fondly remembers her Advanced Higher history classes and her incredible Irish teacher who was the recipient of one too many practical jokes but who took them all well. Caroline left school in 2014 and headed to St Andrews where she originally began studying for a degree in French and Modern History, switching to English and Modern History after a year, a choice she has never regretted. Her history modules focused on Britain and America in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as a brief foray into Russian Imperial History. Her English modules luckily complemented her history ones with classes on Victorian literature and Modern American literature. She wrote her MA dissertation on the Mitford sisters, who have continued to haunt her research ever since.

Caroline graduated with an MA (Hons) in 2018 and returned to St Andrews that September to pursue an MLitt in Modern History. She lived between St Andrews, Glasgow, and London that year, spending more time on trains than she cares to remember but enjoying the best of all worlds. Her dissertation research focused on American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy and questioned whether they were exploited by their parents for the prestige of a title and by their husbands for money, or whether they had their own agency in the matter. After graduation in 2019, Caroline became research assistant to Professor Doug Delaney of the Royal Military College, Canada, providing archival support for his upcoming book on Commonwealth WWI commanders. The Covid-19 lockdown pressed the pause button on this research, however, and Caroline spent long luxurious days in her parents’ garden devouring books that arrived every few weeks from Topping & Co. She returned to Professor Delaney’s research in September 2020 and travelled to London, Chippenham, and Ontario to learn about bauxite in British Guinea in WWII.

A PhD was not in the original plan, but after being approached with an offer by Professor Chandrika Kaul, Caroline figured she had nothing to lose and gladly accepted a place at St Andrews commencing September 2020. Her research focuses on the perceived influence of élite women in interwar Britain with an emphasis on press history. When not travelling to archives, Caroline enjoys spending time at her corner desk in the Scriptorium, often scaring colleagues who cannot see from the door that she is there. She hopes to complete her PhD in 2023 and move into the world of heritage and the preservation of country houses.

In 2017 Caroline joined the Daughters of the American Revolution as a member of the Walter Hines Page Chapter based in London (the irony of a British chapter is not lost on the members). During the pandemic she was asked to serve as the chapter’s secretary, responsible for communicating with 122 members and over 600 associate members. The pandemic provided excellent opportunities for connecting with members all over the world and Caroline was able to work with the Rhode Island, Delaware, and North Carolina state societies as well as directly with the National organisation. She is about to begin administering an American History Essay Contest for British high school students and cannot wait to share her love of American history. She is also an active member of the Women’s History Network, occasionally leading writing retreats, and of the Pilgrim’s Society of Great Britain, of which she was incredibly honoured to receive an invitation to join. In her spare time, Caroline is a Grade 8-level ballet dancer, enjoys cooking and dressmaking and travels up and down the country to attend reeling balls.

Candlemas Semester Roundup

Staff News

Congratulations, Sarah Easterby-Smith! Dr Easterby-Smith won a Teaching Award in 2021 for Dissertation/Thesis/Project Supervisor.

Congratulations to Elena Marushiakova and Veselin Popov! On January 12, 2022, the initiative group for Roma culture in Bulgaria presented the ROMANIPE award to them for their contribution to the research of the Roma community in Bulgaria and the world. The award is given by Roma to non-Roma. 

The Best Historical Materials Committee of the Reference and User Services Association selected the book Roma Voices in History: A Source Book. Roma Civic Emancipation in Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe from 19th Century until the Second World War, edited by Elena Marushiakova and Veselin Popov, as one of the Best Historical Materials published in 2020 and 2021.

Richard Whatmore’s 2019 Princeton UP book Terrorists, anarchists and republicans. The Genevans and the Irish in time of revolution was shortlisted for the Scottish National Book Awards Research Book of the Year.

Emeritus Professor Rab Houston has been appointed by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland as their historical advisor on the past and present Commission, which had its origins in the 1850s. As part of his work, he’ll be producing a series of podcasts (solo and interviews) about how the Commission developed over time and what it has done to change the landscape of caring for mental disorders.

In autumn 2021, Guy Rowlands was one of the founders of History Reclaimed, an international network of academic historians established to challenge the abuse of history for present-day political campaigns. In December 2021 he contributed to the debate over the relabelling of the Melville Monument to Henry Dundas in the centre of Edinburgh in a blog piece entitled ‘Injustice & The Casting of Blame in History: The Melville Monument and Edinburgh’s Confrontation with Its Imperial Past‘.

Staff Talks

On 11 December 2021, Chandrika Kaul was an Expert Commentator for the historical documentary, The Mountbattens: A Scandalous MarriageChannel 5.

On 24 January, Melinda Banerjee gave the talk ‘How “Dynasty” Became a Modern Global Concept’ at Oxford.

On 26 January, Joe Gazeley taught a seminar for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) on the European dimensions of French Africa policy. 

On 29 January, Melinda Banerjee gave a talk at the International Conference on The Centenary of Kazi Nazrul Islam’s Poetic ‘Bidrohi‘ (The Rebel) for Kazi Nazrul University, India.

On 2 February, Aileen Fyfe spoke about ‘Evaluating scientific papers, and their authors, at the Royal Society of London, c.1780-1980’ at the History of Universities seminar (hosted by Humboldt University, Loughborough University, Academia Sinica and UT Sydney).

On 8 February, Amy Blakeway gave a lecture for the National Library of Scotland entitled ‘Mary, Queen of Scots and France‘.

On 10 February, Prof Andrew Pettegree gave a seminar to the Cabinet Office on ‘Print in the Digital Age’.

On 22 February, Milinda Banerjee gave a talk entitled ‘Decolonize Intellectual History! An Agenda for the Capitalocene’ at the Centre for Intellectual History, University of Oxford.

On 8 March, Amy Blakeway featured on the Haddingtonshire Histories podcast entitled ‘There’s something about Mary…Queen of Scots’.

On 13 March, Chandrika Kaul presented a paper on ‘All India Radio and the British Raj 1927-47’ at the 15th Annual Conference of the South Asian Studies Association, Loyola Marymount University, LA.

On 21 March, Rory Cox spoke to the European University Institute Law Working Group and Intellectual History Working Group, for their Ukraine Month initiative. Then on Tuesday 22 March, Dr Cox gave a university SAINTS lecture on ‘The Ethics of War: From the Ancient to the Modern World’ (watch here).

Staff Publications 

Bavaj, RiccardoKonrad Lawson, and Bernhard Struck (eds). A Guide to Spatial History: Areas, Aspects, and Avenues of Research (Olsokhagen Publishing, 2022).

Bavaj, RiccardoKonrad Lawson, and Bernhard Struck (eds). Doing Spatial History (Routledge, 2022).

Blakeway, Amy. ‘Mary de Guise’, in Jo Shaw, Ben Fletcher-Watson and Abrisham Ahmadzedah (eds), Dangerous Women: Fifty Reflections on Women, Power and Identity (2022).

Margaret Connolly, Holly James-Maddocks and Derek Pearsall (eds), Scribal Cultures in Late Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Linne R. Mooney (York Medieval Press, 2022).

Margaret Connolly, ‘Three Medieval Sermons and Their Victorian Printer: Charles Clark and the Dismembering of John Rylands MS English 109’, in  Corinne Saunders and Richard Lawrie with Laurie Atkinson (eds), Middle English Manuscripts and Their Legacies: A Volume in Honour of Ian Doyle (Brill, 2022), pp. 276-94

Dixon, Piers and John Gilbert‘Dormount Hope: medieval deer park, trap or hay?’Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 150 (2021), pp. 201-219.

Ferris, Kate, ‘Dancing through dictatorship: everyday practices and affective experiences of social dancing in Fascist Italy’, in Klaus Nathaus and James Nott (eds), Dance Floor Encounters and the Global Rise of Couple Dancing (Manchester University Press, 2022), pp. 201-227.

Ferris, Kate and Claudio Hernández Burgos, ‘”Everyday Life” and the History of Dictatorship in Southern Europe’European History Quarterly 52:2 (March 2022), pp. 123-135.

Ferris, KateEveryday Spaces: Bars, Alcohol and the Spatial Framing of Everyday Political Practice and Interaction in Fascist Italy’European History Quarterly 52:2 (1 April 2022), pp. 136-159.

Fians, Guilherme‘Prefigurative politics’, in Felix Stein (ed.), Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology (CUP, 2022), pp. 1-18.

Gazeley, Joe‘The Strong “Weak State”: French Statebuilding and Military Rule in Mali’Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (Feb 2022).

Greenwood, Tim. ‘The history of the anonymous storyteller’, in David Thomas (ed.), The Bloomsbury Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations, 600-1500 (Bloomsbury, 2022), pp. 190-193.

Halstead, Huw‘Everyday Public History’The Journal of the Historical Association (2022).

Halstead, Huw, ‘The pawns that they moved here and there”? Microacts, room for manoeuvre, and everyday agency in the 1974 Cyprus conflict’European History Quarterly 52:2 (1 April 2022), pp. 245-267.

Jenkins, Bill‘The “Stronsay Beast”: testimony, evidence and authority in early early nineteenth-century natural history’Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science (2022, e-pub ahead of print).

Kamusella, Tomasz, ‘Białoruski sukces Czarnka i Czerwińskiego‘, (11 April 2022).

Kamusella, TomaszKłamstwo contra demokracja a województwo opolskie’ (5 April 2022).

Kamusella, Tomasz‘The war on Ukraine will “provincialise” Russian’New Eastern Europe (25 April 2022).

Kamusella, Tomasz‘Democracy and Putin’s obsession with a “nazi anti-Russia” Ukraine’New Eastern Europe (7 March 2022).

Kamusella, Tomasz‘Our craven leaders looked away and took the Russian cash’The Times (6 March 2022).

Kamusella, Tomasz‘Post-communist Russia’s wars and Eurasianism’New Eastern Europe(26 January 2022).

Kamusella, Tomasz‘Putin’s Fascism’ (6 March 2022).

Kassaveti, Ursula-Helen and Nikolaus Papadogiannis, ‘“The Azure Generation”: liberal youth politics in Greece and the politicisation of music, 1982-1984′European History Quarterly 52:2 (1 April 2022), pp. 296-324.

Kastritsis, Dimitri. ‘Ottoman urbanism and capital cities before the conquest of Constantinople (1453)’, in Elizabeth Key Fowden, Suna Çağaptay, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill, Louise Blanke (eds), Cities as Palimpsests? Responses to Antiquity in Eastern Mediterranean Urbanism (Oxbow, 2022), pp. 287-305.

Müller, Frank Lorenz, ‘”… da hilft auch das älteste Erbrecht nichts.”: Kaiser Wilhelm II. als Monarch zwischen Funktion und Versagen’, in Torsten Riotte and Kirsten Worms (eds), Das Kaiserreich vermitteln: Brüche und Kontinuitäten seit 1918 (Wallstein Verlag, 2022), pp. 81-106.

Nethercott, Frances, ‘The intelligentsia is dead, long live the intelligentsia! Alexander Solzhenitsyn on soviet dissidence and a new spiritual elite’Russian Literature (March 2022).

Papadogiannis, Nikolaus, ‘Greek trans women selling sex, spaces and mobilities, 1960s-1980s’European Review of History 29:2 (2022), pp. 331-362.

Peacock, Andrew. ‘Arabic Manuscripts from Southeast Asia in the British Library’The British Library (7 March 2022).

Peacock, Andrew‘An embassy from the Sultan of Darfur to the Sublime Porte in 1791’Islamic Africa12:1 (March 2022), pp. 55-91.

Peacock, Andrew‘Urban agency and the city notables of mediaeval Anatolia’, Medieval Worlds 14 (2021), pp. 22-34.

Randjbar-Daemi, Siavush and Leonard Michael‘Kiānuri, Nur-al-Din’, Encyclopaedia Iranica Online (Brill, 2021).

Rowlands, Guy. ‘The Capitalisation of Foreign Mercenaries in Louis XIV’s France’ in Matthias Meinhardt and Markus Meumann (eds), Die Kapitalisierung des Krieges/The Capitalisation of War. Kriegsunternehmer im Spätmittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit/Military Entrepreneurs in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2021), pp. 119-132.

Schultz, Karie‘Catholic political thought and Calvinist ecclesiology in Samuel Rutherford’s Lex, Rex (1644)’Journal of British Studies 61:1 (2022), pp. 162-184.

Weber, Lina‘National Debt and Political Allegiance in Eighteenth-Century Britain’The Historical Journal (2022).

Weber, Lina. ‘The Problem of National Debt in Dutch Republican Thought: Joan Derk van der Capellen and Elie Luzac’, in Joris Oddens, Mart Rutjes, and Arthur Weststeijn (eds), Discourses of Decline: Essays on Republicanism in Honor of Wyger R.E. Velema(Brill, 2022), pp. 70-83.

Whatmore, RichardThe History of Political Thought. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Student News

Congratulations to Claire MacLeod! Claire has won the Undergraduate Dissertation Prize offered by the Society for the Study of French History for her dissertation entitled ‘Not Just Paris? The Development of the 17th Century French Provincial Book World’. 

Congratulations! One of last year’s Medieval History & Archaeology dissertation students, Peter Wollweber has won the Society for Medieval Archaeology’s John Hurst Award for the best undergraduate dissertation in medieval archaeology. The dissertation, entitled ‘Wēlandes geweorc: Perceptions and use of the Roman material past in pre-conversion England’, was supervised by Dr Alex Woolf

Student Publications

Earnshaw, James. ‘”The Battle of Dorking” and Combat Trauma’Journal of Victorian Culture Online (10 February 2022).

Garrett, Natalee. ‘”Albion’s Queen by All Admir’d”: reassessing the public reputation of Queen Charlotte, 1761‐1818’Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (2022).

A St Andrews Tradition: The Origins of the May Dip

Blog written by PhD student Emily Betz. Emily’s research focuses on medical history in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England. You can follow her on Twitter @Emily_E_Betz.

Students of the University of St Andrews taking part in May Dip tradition.
© The University of St Andrews, Gayle McIntyre

At dawn on the first of May every year, the shouts of freezing wet students and light from flickering bonfires enliven East Sands for a few hours. The sights and sounds of the annual May Dip have become a distinctive tradition for St Andrews students who hope that immersing themselves in the North Sea will provide good luck on their upcoming exams. It’s believed that a cold plunge will erase any academic sins committed throughout the year, important for all those who may have accidentally stepped on the sacred ‘PH’ outside the Quad. The practice is so popular that the University even organised a virtual May Dip in 2020 when Covid prevented an in-person gathering.

In its current form, the May Dip happens every year the morning after the Gaudi torchlit procession on 30 April. During that procession, students dressed in gowns advance toward East Sands to lay a wreath in honour of John Honey, the brave student who risked his life to rescue the crew of a small ship that ran aground off the beach in January 1800. After the procession, parties continue throughout the night until it is time for the students to run shrieking into the cold North Sea as the sun rises. Although the custom is well established now, the origins of the Dip are less straightforward.

Madrigal singers and friends dancing on the Pier, St Andrews Harbour. May 1950.
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: GMC-20-3-10

The details of the May Dip’s exact origins remain hazy, but by the mid-twentieth century there were visible precursors to our current tradition, with newspapers reporting that St Andrews students had established a custom of washing their faces in ‘May Dew’. By 1965, students had begun dipping in the sea: the local newspaper the St Andrews Citizen reported that on May 1 students sang and danced at dawn, and ‘a large number bathed in the pool below the castle cliff’ (St Andrews Citizen, 8 May 1955). Some facets of the tradition have come and gone: the Maypole that used to be set up in the Castle grounds to dance around no longer features in the celebrations, and the custom of having to swim a length of the pool at Castle Sands (rather than just dipping in the water) disappeared when the May Dip was moved from its established location near Castle Sands to East Sands due to safety concerns in 2011. The spirit of community and renewal, however, still remains strong to this day and is part of what makes St Andrews unique!