ISHR Reading Weekend 2018

2018-04-07 15.12.32Blog written by PhD student Anne Rutten

On April 6, the annual Reading Weekend of the Institute of Scottish Historical Research took place, celebrating ten years of Scottish studies at St Andrews. The Burn in Edzell was as usual kind enough to host the staff, postgraduate students and visiting scholars over the weekend.

Arriving late on Friday afternoon, everybody settled in and caught up with each other’s work. In the evening, Professor Roger Mason officially opened the weekend by reflecting on ten eventful years in the life of ISHR. This talk of the past was contrasted by the following talk on the St Andrews project of Smart History, given by Dr Bess Rhodes. Showing and explaining the reconstruction of St Salvators Quad, we were introduced to the future of historical studies. As the evening wound down, those present tested their skills at the pool table and/or debated the merits of the Geddy Map.

IMG_20180408_094320616The following morning, first-year PhD student Sarah Leith and incoming PhD student Daniel Leaver kicked off the first set of panels. Sarah’s paper ‘Whose history is it anyway?: Shaping identities in mid-twentieth-century Scotland’ discussed the different people who participated in the remembering and making of history, from lecturers in academia to Fife citizens starting their own folk museums. Daniel Leaver’s paper ‘Visions of Scotland, Visions of Empire: Scottish Nationalists, Britain and the World, 1928-42’ focused on interbellum Scottish political history, assessing the ideas and propositions by the SNP, especially related to the development of Home Rule in Ireland.

The second panel moved further back in time, with Christin Simons and Nora Epstein. Taking us across the world in disputes between the East Indian companies of England and Sweden, Christin’s paper’ RIP? Reputation, image and perception of the Swedish East India Company during the Porto Novo affair’ explored questions of legitimacy and reputation in eighteenth-century naval matters. Nora’s presentation ‘Visual Commonplacing:  The Transmission and Reception of Printed Religious Images in Reformed England and Scotland’ took us from the seas to the household, introducing her database and methodology to understand how certain illustrations traveled through time and found their way from religious books to fireplaces and ballads.

IMG_20180407_150925965For the customary outing, ISHR intern Chelsea arranged for a visit to Kinnaird Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Fife. Although the current building dates from the twentieth century, early parts of the castle were built in the fourteenth century. As the Duke showed us the hunting trophies of ancestors, paintings of family members and other curiosities, nearly every guest found something that interacted with their research! Upon returning to tea and coffee at the Burn, cake and champagne were brought out to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of ISHR. In addition, to thank Roger for his tireless efforts, a surprise panel of former PhD students took place. Bess Rhodes, Esther Meijers and Steven Reid took us on a whistle-stop tour of the Reformation, Scoto-Dutch relations and Neo-Latin writing.

The Saturday evening was devoted to the ISHR Pub Quiz, a staple of Reading Weekends. As usual, the Scottish history round yielded the least points, while the riddle of four kings was solved by the youngest attendee. (Nobody else managed to untangle the names, causes of death and monikers!) The Sunday morning opened with a medieval panel. First-year PhD student Dana Weaver‘s talk ‘Memorial Identity: Inventing the Anglo-Saxon in the Medieval and the Modern’ analysed how post-colonial theory proves useful for early medieval historians, while Anne Rutten’s paper ‘Reading and Bleeding Revisited: Creating Highland Culture in Fourteenth-Century Scotland’ investigated the beginnings of Highland and Lowland identities.

readingweekend.jpgThe final talk was delivered by William Hepburn, whose paper ‘Common books: burgh registers and documentary culture in fifteenth-century Scotland’ discussed how societies in burghs made use of the written word. The weekend was a great success, as students and staff made connections between their research, tested their skills at various games and enjoyed the sunny surroundings of Edzell. After a hearty lunch and leaving their wishes in the Burn guest book, everyone piled back into cars for their return home.


About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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