Donald Bullough Fellow – A Look Back

Blog written by Dr Jacqueline Murray

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Photo attrib. Nick Amoscato, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

When I walked into the Department of Mediaeval History for the first time I was greeted effusively by the fantastic office staff, Dorothy Christie and Audrey Wishart. These two friendly faces quickly became the fonts of all information. ID cards, library and IT access, all done with the blink of an eye. After apprising Tim Greenwood of my arrival, he instantly whisked me off to that all important centre for medievalists: Jannettas. Soon joined by Alex Woolf, we moved from coffee to fabulous soup – cream of aubergine – and with that I was introduced to one of the most important gathering places for medievalists in St Andrews, with flavours of gelato limited only by imagination )though I confess to wondering about haggis gelato]. Over time my daily café became We Are Zest both because of its proximity to 71 South Street and because of their staffing policy to employ and train young workers

The Donald Bullough Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to become immersed in a rich community of medieval historians. Not many of us, especially at North American universities, enjoy the company of so many scholars whose fields of expertise stretch from Scandinavia to Byzantium, Roman Britain to the fifteenth century, and multifarious geographies, temporalities, and topics in-between. This depth and breadth of scholarship is complemented by weekly seminars by visiting scholars, sponsored by St Andrews Institute for Mediaeval Studies, and other research groups.

A couple of seminar presentations stand out to me. One, on spiders in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, was a fascinating introduction to an unfamiliar research area. Thankfully, the illustrations of spiders did not disturb a real-life arachnophobe. Another speaker reconceptualized the periodization of Germanic Imperial literature in the High Middle Ages, proposing a different series of ebbs and flows in book production. These and all the presentations were a wonderful introduction for post-graduates and also provided exciting new concepts for faculty members.

In addition to presenting my own seminar on a reconceptualization of medieval masculinity through masculine embodiment, I also led a workshop on mystical castration, focusing on the fine distinctions of context and experience. The annual Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages conference was a lovely way to end the semester. Particularly notable was the excellent keynote address by Elizabeth Robertson and terrific discussions with the speakers and graduate students. Additionally, I had the privilege to be invited to give presentations at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Dundee.

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Photo attrib. Dunnock, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The main responsibility of the Bullough Fellow is to write. This is necessarily a solitary activity, so much of one’s time is spent alone, but there are opportunities to enjoy the presence of scholarly colleagues. It is the office, the computer, and the library that must capture the attention of the Bullough Fellow as they engage in diligent research and the pursuit of intellectual tidbits from the past that will form the basis of hours of thoughtful deliberation in the future. I was delighted that the St Andrews Library is rich in both current and retrospective secondary sources, and boasts an exceptionally helpful staff and an efficient Interlibrary Loan office, on those rare occasions it might be necessary. All in all, the research support at St Andrews is exceptional.  I wrote far more than I had anticipated and I will always remain grateful for the scholarly support, nestled (like the building itself) within the heart of an ancient and noble Scottish city.

Living in St Andrews, a city and university of great Scottish antiquity, is rather like being transported into the Middle Ages. Walking the little streets, especially near the cathedral and north port, offers a medieval world view that counteracted the glass and concrete skyscrapers of my daily cityscape. It is not just the fact of the vestiges of medieval houses; rather it is that they can occupy two or three full blocks. Similarly, the ruins tug at the heartstrings: the devastated cathedral, the remnants of the bishop’s palace, and perhaps, worst of all, the destroyed Blackfriars, all bring home the vicissitudes of the Scottish Reformation.

I feel very grateful to have spent five months with the medievalists of St Andrews. I am most grateful to have been afforded this extraordinary opportunity, truly a highlight of my professional life. Thank you so much St Andrews!!

ISHR Visiting Fellows – A Look Back

Mikki Brock

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Photo attrib. Mike, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

In fall 2016, I had the pleasure of spending a semester as a joint visiting fellow with the Institute of Scottish Historical Research and Reformation Studies Institute at the University of St Andrews. This was an amazing opportunity and experience, both professionally and personally. To state the obvious, S. Andrews is a beautiful historic town with a vibrant intellectual community centered around the university. Here, I was able to pursue my work on a project on sermon-going in early modern Scotland with a huge array of resources at my disposal. The special collections reading room at the Martyr’s Kirk provided a lovely space to dig through manuscripts related to Scotland during the Reformation. The main library at St. Andrews gave me access to many printed and electronic secondary sources. St. Katherine’s Lodge was a warm and scenic place for my office, where I passed many hours working and socializing with staff in the School of History. Living in Fife, I was also only an hour’s journey away from Edinburgh, where I travelled a few times a month for research in the archives or professional meetings.

The most important resources, however, were the wonderful staff and students of the Institute of Scottish Historical Research and the Reformation Studies Institute. During my time as an ISHR fellow, I benefited from invaluable conversations with a wide range of scholars, all of whom were incredibly welcoming to me and encouraging of my work. From my seminar presentation on a mass confession in Ayr in 1647 to the informal weekly gatherings over coffee and cake in St. Kat’s, the members of the ISHR helped shape my thinking about my new research. Coming from a small liberal arts college where I am the only historian of Scotland, early modern Britain, or the Protestant Reformation, being surrounded by colleagues working on similar topics was a revelation that pushed me to reframe my research questions in very helpful ways. Equally important, I made not only new scholarly connections, but also wonderful friends while in St Andrews.

Both professionally and personally, my time as a joint ISHR-RSI fellow was thus invaluable. I look forward to seeing everyone again on future trips to Fife!

Valerie Wallace

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Photo attrib. Patrick, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

I was based at the Institute of Scottish Historical Research as a visiting fellow in the second half of 2016. It was a tremendously enriching experience. Ensconced in Professor Michael Brown’s office (thank you to him!) on The Scores with a view out over the sea, I was able to complete a book manuscript (provisionally) entitled Empire of Dissent: Scottish Presbyterianism and Reform Politics in the British World, c. 1820-c.1850. I presented a chapter on Samuel McDonald Martin, a politician in New Zealand, to the Scottish History seminar and a chapter on Thomas Pringle, a poet in South Africa, to a symposium on Presbyterianism and Scottish Literature. It was rewarding to receive feedback on each of these chapters from an audience so informed about Scotland’s political, religious and literary history.

My visit had many highlights: utilising the university’s special collections in the beautiful Martyrs Kirk on North Street; tea and cake with the School’s congenial academic staff on Tuesday mornings; procrastinating with my fellow fellows Mikki Brock and Steve Boardman; and chatting to and learning from ISHR’s wonderfully engaged postgraduate students. Most of all I think I’ll miss the hospitality of the Strathmartine Centre for Scottish History on Kinburn Place, whose library and kitchen kept me well-nourished throughout my stay.

New fellows appointed to the ISHR Visiting Research Fellowship 2016-17

The ISHR is delighted to announce that in 2016-17 the ISHR will host two Visiting Research Fellows in the autumn term, Dr Michelle D. Brock from Washington and Lee University, Virginia, and Dr Valerie Wallace from the Victoria University, New Zealand.

Brock_Facultyphoto.jpgDr Michelle D. Brock is an Assistant Professor of British History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Her research interests centre on religious belief and identity in early modern Scotland. Dr Brock’s first book, Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c.1560-1700, was published with the St Andrews Studies in Reformation History series (Routledge, 2016). She is the author of articles in the Journal of British Studies and Critical Survey, as well as a number of editorials connecting history and pedagogy to current events.

While at the ISHR, Dr Brock will be working on project titled Hearing is Believing: The Social Life of Sermons in Early Modern Scotland. This project explores the personal experience and communal event of sermon-going in Scotland from the Reformation through the seventeenth century. Put simply, this work seeks to understand how attending, hearing, and reading regular sermons informed daily lives, social relationships, political convictions, and identities in early modern Scotland. As part of this research, she will be using St. Andrew’s collection of manuscript sources, including sermons, sermon notebooks, diaries, and commonplace books. Dr Brock will also present her research to staff and postgraduate students in the ISHR and Reformation Studies Institute during her fellowship in St Andrews.

26070_REC009 (1).jpgDr Valerie Wallace lectures at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Dr Wallace is a historian of Scotland, Britain and the settler colonies of Britain’s empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is interested in the history of political thought and the intersection of religion and radical politics.

While based at St Andrews Dr Wallace will be working on her current book project, Empire of Dissent: Scottish Presbyterianism and Reform Politics in the British World,1820-1850, which aims to transform our understanding of colonial radicalism by documenting the explosive but uncharted influence of Scottish Presbyterian political ideas. The project explores the political careers of five significant, but under-researched, colonial reformers: Thomas McCulloch (1776-1843), a missionary in Nova Scotia; Thomas Pringle (1789-1834), a poet in the Cape Colony; John Dunmore Lang (1799-1878), a church minister in New South Wales; William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861), a journalist in Upper Canada; and Samuel McDonald Martin (1805?-1848), a journalist in New Zealand. The project will analyse their connection to a denominational network, uncovering the hitherto neglected history of the Scottish Presbyterian dissenting churches in the British Empire.

The ISHR is also delighted to announce that we will host Dr Steve Boardman, Reader in Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh, as Visiting Scholar during the academic year 2016-17.

Monthly Round Up: February

Photo attr. Daniel Peckham, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Photo attr. Daniel Peckham, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

NEWS

Dr Katie Stevenson on the Radio

Dr Katie Stevenson appeared on BBC radio in a programme on the Black Death in Scotland. The programme can be heard here.

Dr Barbara Crawford awarded Honorary Professorship from UHI

The School of History extends congratulations to Dr Barbara Crawford, who has been awarded the title of Honorary Professor from the University of the Highlands and Islands. She has been active in the Centre for Nordic Studies in Kirkwall – where she is an Honorary Fellow ­– since it opened, and she will continue to be involved with their various teaching and research programmes.

Ms Jane Ryder to chair Historic Environment Scotland Board

The School of History would also like to congratulate Ms Jane Ryder OBE, a St Andrews graduate in Mediaeval and Modern History, who recently became the first chair of the Historic Environment Scotland Board. Ms. Ryder will hold this position from 19 January 2015 until 18 January 2019.

International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism

Mr Nathan Alexander, a PhD student and Communications Intern in the School of History, recently started a group called the International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism (ISHASH) with another PhD student, Mr Elliot Hanowski, from Queen’s University, Canada. The society aims to provide the growing number of scholars in this field with a platform for networking and collaboration. Thus far, members include professors and postgraduates from seven countries. The society’s inaugural conference, to be held at Conway Hall in London, is planned for this year.

STAFF ACTIVITY

Statue of Louis XIV, the 'Sun King', Photo attr. Wally Gobetz, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Statue of Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’, Photo attr. Wally Gobetz, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dr Guy Rowlands spoke to the seminar of the Scottish Centre for War Studies at Glasgow University on 20th January, on the subject: ‘The Sinews of War, the Sun King, and the Burdens and Perils of being a Superpower.’

On 22nd January, Dr Aileen Fyfe spoke at a Café Scientifique in Aikman’s bar, St Andrews. A ‘full house’ turned up to discuss the increasing importance of peer review in science.

Dr James Palmer spoke at the ‘Calendars and Religion in Antiquity and the Middle Ages’ workshop at UCL on 18th February. His paper was entitled ‘Calendars, Religion and Order in the Carolingian World (740-900)’.

On 18th February Dr Sarah Easterby-Smith gave a paper entitled ‘Paris, Mauritius and Mysore: Diplomatic Botany in 1788’ to the History Department Seminar at the University of Aberdeen.

Ms Hambly, Mrs Graham, and Mr Dawson attended the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales Digital Past conference in Swansea on 11th-12th February, where Mr Dawson gave one of the keynote addresses. They also helped organise an event in the Scottish Parliament as part of Scottish Environment Week, including giving a lunchtime presentation in one of the Committee Rooms.

Read more of this post

France and its Global Histories – Workshop Report

Dr Joanna Warson (Portsmouth) presenting her topic on France in Anglophone Africa, chaired by Dr Simon Jackson (Birmingham).

Dr Joanna Warson (Portsmouth) presenting her topic on France in Anglophone Africa, chaired by Dr Simon Jackson (Birmingham).

On 27th and 28th August 2014, the Centre for French History and Culture of the School of History hosted a conference entitled “France and its Global Histories: State of the Field”. The workshop was generously supported by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, represented by Dr Catherine Robert during the event.

The purpose of the conference was to offer new perspectives on French history, and on the role global history could play in tackling new historiographical issues relating to France’s past. Panels were diverse and discussed themes such as “Race, Gender, and Class” or the problem of scale in French history, attempting to redefine the themes of Empire, Postcolonialism or Circulation. In total, five panels were held throughout the two days and were chaired by Dr Stephen TyreDr Akhila YechuryMr Jordan GirardinDr Sarah Easterby-Smith (all from St Andrews) and Dr Simon Jackson from Birmingham.

It is safe to say that a particular strength of this conference was the diversity of its speakers. A few came from afar (the award for longest journey going to Pr Tyler Stovall flying all the way from Berkeley), with others coming from a number of different British universities, while the Centre’s former Visiting Fellow Dr Junko Takeda joined the conversation via Skype from Syracuse. The question of nationality and language was also raised: with a very small minority of attendees being born and raised in France, how did this conference still manage to lead a convincing discussion on how the history of France should be written? A long roundtable discussion was held at the very end of the second day, establishing that French history could indeed find its future through pluridisciplinary studies.

This conference provided an opportunity to remind attendees of the School’s research potential in terms of multidisciplinary approaches. Although the event was fully organised and run by the Centre for French History and Culture, the Centre for Transnational History (as of the start of this month, the Institute for Transnational History) was mentioned multiple times as one of the potential collaborators in order to offer new ways to write French history. Overall, the conference was an excellent start to this new academic year and we can expect more projects to emerge from the Centre for French History.

Report kindly provided by Jordan Girardin.

Apply Now: School of History Emeritus Fellowship

The School of History at the University of St Andrews is initiating an annual ‘Emeritus Fellowship’ for retired academic staff formerly employed by any University or equivalent institution, with the first Fellowship being held in Academic Year 2014-15. The Fellow will be expected to spend 3-6 months of the academic year in St Andrews and to participate in the research activities of the School, including giving a paper to the appropriate Research Seminar and having contact with postgraduate students in the appointee’s field.

The Fellowship will be worth £3000 for use towards accommodation, travel, and research.  The Fellow will also receive full Library and IT access and secretarial support. It is hoped but cannot be guaranteed that the Fellow will receive office accommodation.

Applications should consist of a CV (maximum 4 pages), a statement of research to be undertaken during the Fellowship (maximum 1 page), and the name of two referees who may be contacted. These should be emailed to the Head of History (currently Professor John Hudson) at hhis@st-andrews.ac.uk by 15 June 2014.

ISHR Reading Weekend 2014, The Burn, 21-23 March

Dawn Jackson Williams, School of History communications intern and associate of the ISHR, attended the annual ISHR Reading Weekend. Below is her account.

The Burn. Photo by D. Jackson Williams.

The Burn. (Photo credit D. Jackson Williams).

The weekend of the 21–23 March saw members and guests of the Institute of Scottish Historical Research head to the Burn, just south of the Cairngorms National Park, where they enjoyed three days encompassing a variety of presentations, historical discussions, and a field trip to learn about Pictish stones.

Following a mid-afternoon arrival on the Friday the group was given plenty of time to get acquainted over tea in the Burn’s beautiful Drawing Room. After dinner, the MLitt students in attendance kicked off the weekend’s presentations with a ‘Three Minute Thesis’ session. The six gave brief introductions to their areas of research, which ranged from an exploration of the queenship of Margaret Tudor to a study of Scottish music halls in the early twentieth century. The postgraduate focus of the evening continued in a more light-hearted vein as Claire Hawes demonstrated herself to be not only a talented historian, but also a brilliant musician; she treated us to a musical exposition of the highs and lows of PhD life, set to the tune of ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’.

The next morning saw two fascinating panels, featuring PhD students Sean Murphy, Carol Bailey, Liz Hanna, and Claire Hawes, which covered a range of topics including ‘verbal tartanry’ and its role in Scottish diasporic culture, the language debates of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, James IV and his uses of chivalry, and the nature of fifteenth-century urban communities. After lunch the group ventured to Pictavia, a nearby attraction boasting a collection of Pictish stones, where they enjoyed the commentary of an extremely knowledgeable guide, and – perhaps less cerebrally – the interactive nature of the exhibit which encouraged visitors to run their hands over replica Pictish stones, and to play a reproduction Pictish harp. The ISHR was also pleased to discover a reference to the research of Dr Alex Woolf in pride of place on the wall beside one of the opening exhibits. The two articles of particular relevance to the displays at Pictavia can be found here: ‘Dún Nechtáin, Fortriu and the Geography of the Picts’, and ‘Pictish matriliny reconsidered’.

Inside the Drawing Room of the Burn. (Photo credit Darren S. Layne).

Hearing about the MLitt research topics in the Drawing Room of the Burn. (Photo credit Darren S. Layne).

On returning to the Burn the group reaped the benefits of a pre-dinner skills panel, with Matt McHaffie sharing his experience of finishing the PhD, and offering advice to those PhD students present to whom handing in still felt like a distant dream. Darren Layne gave a persuasive presentation regarding the virtues of Evernote and its potential benefits for historians. The schedule for the weekend (arranged by ISHR intern Amy Eberlin) had boasted ‘Prescribed Fun Time’ for the hour or so after dinner, and the inaugural ISHR pub quiz certainly provided both entertainment and some head-scratching. History as a potential category was deliberately avoided and the assembled staff and students were tested on their general knowledge, geography, and, in a picture round, their ability to recognise the logos of international organisations. The ‘Blue Owls’ helmed by ISHR Director Katie Stevenson won, although as they boasted a one-time St Andrews University Challenge team-member, this had been widely predicted. The team of ISHR’s Edinburgh guest, Steve Boardman, came joint last after forgetting that the Queen was Canada’s head of state.

The final day saw some erratic weather – bright sunshine interspersed with hail – but no change in the continuing high standard of presentations across the weekend. Piotr Potocki explored Catholic identity and the Catholic church in Scotland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, whilst Neil McGuigan took listeners on a journey to the ninth and tenth centuries with his account of the sons of Ivar and the medieval kingdom of Northumbria. The weekend was ably rounded off by Dr Steve Boardman, who gave a compelling paper on the depiction of Anglo-Welsh and Anglo-Irish relations as depicted in Scottish sources. After a final lunch, the group dispersed, perhaps a little more tired, but certainly more knowledgeable than they had been upon arrival.