Early Modern and Reformation Studies Reading Weekend
December 20, 2016 Leave a comment
Blog written by Hannah Briscoe
In mid-November, Early Modern and Reformation Studies students and staff gathered around the warmth of a fire and the grandeur of a Scottish country house for our “Reading Weekend”—a favorite tradition and yearly highlight for the school.
After our first dinner together on Friday evening, Robert Frost (Aberdeen) kicked off the weekend with an impressively appropriate and mood-setting presentation, “Identity Doubtful: The Supposed Polish Portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie.” It was just the right setting for a bit of Jacobite intrigue. Afterwards, the evening continued for most with games, discussions ranging from philosophical to the ridiculous, drink and merriment. Saturday was a full day which included three meals together, three sessions, and a gorgeous afternoon for exploring.
The morning session was on the theme of printing and publishing. Marc Jaffre chaired what was a truly interesting panel of papers and following discussion. Andrew Pettegree, Arthur der Weduwen, and Jamie Cumby presented on the recovery of lost books, lost and found travel literature, and reasons for resistance to typographic change. After the all-important coffee and tea break, Jaap Jacobs (Dundee) chaired a session in which Edda Frankot and Jackson Armstrong (Aberdeen) offered insight into what it is like to work in a group on a funded research project. Claire Hawes (Aberdeen) then related her experiences in post-doctoral research and offered insights into how historians can engage with the community.
We reconvened after tea and coffee for an international panel discussion. Guy Rowlands was the moderator on “Crossing Continents. Two university systems divided by a common language (sort of).” Martine van Ittersum (Dundee), David Whitford (Baylor University, Texas), and Emily Michelson made up the panel which focused on comparing the American and British systems for undertaking a PhD as well as finding funding and the job interview process. In the evening, we enjoyed a fantastic pub quiz, courtesy of Jamie Cumby and Andrew Carter. Categories spanned early modern history, pop culture and movie trivia, US presidents and their moms, and many more!
After breakfast on Sunday, Prof. Karin Friedrich (Aberdeen) chaired a session in which Jessica Dalton, John Condren, and Lena Liapi (Aberdeen) spoke on the themes of conversion strategies of the Jesuits and Roman Inquisition, women as negotiators and political actors, and crime and the public sphere in London. Our final session was strictly ‘no staff allowed’. This panel was a chance for the MLitt students to hear from new and current PhD students about their experiences in choosing a topic, applying for PhDs, and to ask any questions they had about the process. There were a lot of great questions and insights offered, and it was a nice casual ending to the weekend before we all packed up the cars and headed back to the Kingdom of Fife.
The reading weekend has been a highlight for me in my first year-and-a-half at St Andrews. It is a great opportunity to get to know friends, colleagues, and lecturers in a relaxed environment. It offers exposure to academic presentations, the chance to get over the intimidation and just have a really great time—not to mention making the most of the incredible scenery and charms of Scotland.