Institute of Scottish Historical Research Reading Weekend 2013
April 16, 2013 Leave a comment
by Claire Hawes, senior postgraduate and organiser of the ISHR Reading Weekend
On 12-14 April the Institute of Scottish Historical Research held a very successful Reading Weekend at The Burn, near Edzell. The weekend combined presentations of work from postgraduate students at all stages of their research with discussion of some of the current issues affecting the discipline of history in Scotland and beyond, and the chance for all members of the ISHR, and their guests, to get together and exchange ideas in a relaxed social setting.
On Friday evening our Master’s students Piotr Potocki, Carol Bailey and Christie O’Brien shared their recent work and research plans with the audience, followed on Saturday morning by two PhD panels. Our first year students Liz Hanna and Amy Eberlin both gave excellent papers on representations of King Arthur in the Middle Ages, and Flemings in late medieval and early modern Scottish guilds respectively. This was followed by work presented by two of our more senior postgrads: Malcolm Petrie, who talked about how the interactions between politics and public space affected Mayday demonstrations during the inter-war period, and Martyna Mirecka, who shared her insights into a case of mistaken identity regarding what has hitherto been assumed to be a statue of King John III Sobieski of Poland-Lithuania.
After an outing to Edzell Castle and Garden, Luke Wormald, Head of Review and Development for Historic Scotland, spoke to the institute about his organisation’s strategy for Scotland’s historic environment, and the policy review which accompanies it, giving a fascinating insight into the workings of this important body and outlining the challenges and opportunities of engaging with history outside the academy. Our second day was rounded off in style by Darren Layne’s informed and articulate discussion of Open Access publishing, which sparked one of the most fruitful and thought-provoking debates of the weekend. He outlined the thinking behind the recent Finch Report and facilitated a very helpful discussion around its practical implications.
Our final student panel saw three of our veteran PhD students present on their current research. Laura Hedrick began with an examination of the perception within other countries that Scots were impoverished, and the ramifications and realities of those perceptions in the period between the Reformation and the Union of Parliaments. Claire McLoughlin explored the question of who controlled Scottish trade in the early seventeenth century, and the relationship between the king, parliament and the Convention of Burghs in this context. Björn Nordgren then argued for the importance of the naval policy of Count Axel Oxenstierna to Sweden in the period 1635-43.
After lunch Dr Gordon Pentland, of the University of Edinburgh, discussed his current research on the theme of material culture and popular politics in nineteenth-century Scotland, looking at how the integration of objects, space and traditional narratives could be used by political movements to create an atmosphere of excitement which ideology alone was unlikely to generate.
Many thanks to all who contributed to making the weekend such a success!