Postgraduate Spotlight: Jiazhu Hu

Jiazhu is a fourth-year PhD student in Mediaeval History. Her research focuses on the political language used by late medieval English towns.

Growing up in Shanghai in a family of chemists, Jiazhu never pictured herself pursuing a career in medieval history until she came to St Andrews in 2014. Frustrated by Chinese high school math, Jiazhu woke up from her childhood dream of winning a Nobel Prize in sciences and instead pursued a degree in English Language and Literature at Fudan University. During her third year she spent one semester visiting the University of Manchester, where she took a module in medieval English literature and started her exposure to a medieval world different from the one portrayed in Shakespeare’s history plays.

This led Jiazhu to do her MPhil in medieval studies at St Andrews during 2014-16, where she carried out interdisciplinary research on messengers in later medieval England, under the supervision of Dr Margaret Connolly and Dr Rory Cox. During this period, Jiazhu found herself in a loving and supportive community of medievalists and was fascinated by the ways historians work. Supported by a joint scholarship scheme between the University and the China Scholarship Council, she began to pursue a doctorate degree in history at St Andrews in the autumn of 2016, under the supervision of Dr Rory Cox and Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker, and received a desk in the Osgood Room at St John’s House.

Jiazhu is currently interested in the political culture of late medieval England, especially political communication between royal and local governments, and political language used by medieval English towns. Her thesis focuses on the case of the Cinque Ports, a confederation of Kentish and Sussex ports in England. It explores how medieval England’s only urban confederacy represented its political identity and voiced communal concerns through the language of petitioning under the reigns of the three Edwards (1272-1377). This study of the political consciousness and participation of maritime towns also aims to contribute to the historiographical trend that has recently been extending the boundaries of medieval England’s political society.

Apart from doing research, Jiazhu co-organised the Postgraduate Mediæval History Seminar series during 2018-19, luring audiences with wine on Wednesday evenings and hosting social events for Halloween and Christmas. She has also tutored on ME1006: Scotland and the English Empire 1070 – 1500 during the Candlemas semesters of 2017/18 and 2018/19 and has been teaching Mandarin Chinese for the University’s evening language courses since 2015. Outside of academia, Jiazhu enjoys making food, tea, and ice cream. Although a sedentary creature, she is occasionally fond of traveling and hiking. As for relaxation she has a taste for film and television (of various genres), anime, gaming, photography, and video making.

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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