Postgraduate Spotlight: Emily Betz

Blog written by Emily Betz

Emily is currently a second year PhD student in Modern History. She’s an international student at St Andrews, originally hailing from the small and very snowy city of Erie, Pennsylvania. Her fascination with history began at a young age, when she first became obsessed with the idea of becoming an Egyptologist after seeing a handful of Discovery Channel specials (and, let’s be honest, the Indiana Jones movies). She has switched her focus to a more modern time period now, but her early interest in history has never faded.

During her undergraduate years at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Emily studied history alongside her major of German Literature and found a passion for traveling after studying abroad in Austria and Germany. Her travels inspired her to apply for a joint MA/MSc degree in Global Studies from the University of Roskilde in Denmark and Leipzig University in Germany. After graduating, she worked in a think tank in Berlin that researched higher education institutions for a year before deciding to go back to school for her true passion of history. This led her to begin an MPhil in Early Modern History from Trinity College Dublin. Her research in Dublin examined the spread of the Henrician Reformation in England in the 1530s-40s through in-depth analysis of churchwarden’s accounts of the period. She is now continuing her love affair with the early modern period at St Andrews under the supervision of Professor Rab Houston.

Emily’s doctoral research focuses on melancholy in England between c. 1550-1750. While it could be a rather dreary subject, she’s found that researching melancholy in the early modern period is far more than learning about a medical condition. Instead, it provides a reflection into the changing values and perceptions of society as a whole and is inextricably linked to the formation of English identity. What she hopes to elucidate with her research is just how the perception of the English as a particularly ‘melancholy’ nation came about, both within and without the country.

In addition to her PhD research, Emily is the editorial assistant with the School of History’s communications team. In this role, she prepares the fortnightly School of History Gazette and helps compile the annual alumni magazine with Dr Chandrika Kaul. In her free time, she loves dancing ballet, reading, and practicing her newfound love of horseback riding. This year she is moving to Edinburgh to try a taste of Scotland’s city life.

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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