Ronald Cant and the Establishment of Scottish History Teaching at the University of St Andrews

Blog post written by Sarah Leith, former Mlitt student and starting her PhD at St Andrews in September

cant1.jpg

Photo reproduced with the kind permission of the Strathmartine Trust, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Today, Scottish history enjoys its rightful place as part of the history curriculum at the University of St Andrews: first and second year modules delve into Scotland’s past; there are honours courses devoted to the nation’s history; a Scottish Historical Studies MLitt is offered, and there are numerous PhD students researching a wide variety of Scottish topics. However, it was not until around the mid-twentieth century that Scotland’s first university offered the serious and permanent study of this subject to its students. Flying the flag for Scottish history at St Andrews University during this time was the historian Ronald Cant. Having been appointed mediaeval history lecturer in 1936, the historian almost immediately began his mission to single-handedly secure the study of Scotland’s past at this university. Although characteristically modest and unambitious, Cant was a pioneer who fought a long and lonely battle to gain recognition for his subject, with a Scottish history chair finally being created in 1974, the year of the historian’s retirement. Read more of this post

Medievalists in Scotland Meeting

4859997529_24839c840b_z.jpg

Photo attrib. Neil Howard, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

On the third of December, The St Andrews Institute for Medieval Studies welcomed almost a hundred medievalists from all over Scotland for a day of friendly chats and scholarly exchanges of ideas. Victoria Turner and Audrey Wishart organised this fantastic day in St Andrews, following the example of a similar event six years ago. The first Medievalists in Scotland meeting had been a great success, so the third of December had been widely anticipated by many!

The event was opened by a short speech, courtesy of the newly installed Principal Sally Mapstone. As a medievalist herself, she encouraged the participants to embrace all the new possibilities currently arising in medieval studies, without forgetting the material details of the sources everyone worked with. After these wise words, participants were free to mingle during the poster session. Not only senior lecturers from St Andrews were present: postgraduates and academics from all over Scotland attended, working on a wide variety of subjects.

Due to the high number of participants, there were two rounds of poster sessions. Everybody had been asked to craft posters beforehand, outlining their current research interests and projects. The geographical range spread from the Middle East to the far corners of Europe. Textile-oriented approaches were present alongside philosophical explorations, and the timeline of the Middle Ages was similarly approached from many different angles.

Following the poster session, participants were given the opportunity to meet in groups to discuss a variety of research interests. It will come as no surprise that a wide variety of interests exist among medievalists in Scotland: palaeography and manuscript culture, clothing/textiles, editing/philology, reception studies, spirituality/piety/relics, monasticism, gender, lordship/nobility/patronage, and governance/law. During these roundtable discussions, old and new approaches were all explored. After these workshops, participants met in groups again to discuss some of the latest trends in medieval studies, including: digital humanities, new materialism, emotions, academic/non-academic collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and palaeography. In certain panels, future collaborations were proposed, including workshops and conferences.

When the day ended, many medievalists had (re)connected with their colleagues elsewhere in Scotland. In the future, the Medievalists in Scotland Day will certainly be as successful in furthering research connections and bringing together scholars from all over the country.

Early Modern and Reformation Studies Reading Weekend

1671629342_f8f7ffc78a_z

Photo attrib. Stu Smith, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

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!

5905705737_acd252f4ea_m

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

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.

 

Monthly Round Up: November

Staff Activity

Dr Rory Cox gave a paper, ‘Waterboarding: “torture-lite” or “getting medieval on your ass”?’, at the University of Glasgow, School of Social and Political Sciences, Politics Seminar, 17th November.

Dr Emily Michelson gave a talk to the Parkes Institute, University of Southampton, on 22nd November. The talk was entitled, ‘Jewish Conversion and Catholic Networks in Early Modern Italy.’

Dr Sarah Easterby-Smith gave a public talk entitled ‘Boxes of Delight: Botanical Collecting in the Age of Sail’ to a packed audience at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoological Museum, Dundee, on 29th November.

On 30th November, Dr Alex Woolf spoke about ‘Harald Gille and Eysteinn Haraldsson: The Irish contexts’ at the Norse-Gaelic Interactions seminar, held at the University of Nottingham.

Recent Publications

Sarah Easterby-Smith, ‘On Diplomacy and Botanical Gifts. France, Mysore and Mauritius in 1788’, in Yota Batsaki, Sarah Burke Cahalan and Anatole Tchikine (eds.), The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century (Washington, D.C., 2016).

Tomasz Kamusella, ‘The Idea of a Kosovan Language in Yugoslavia’s Language Politics’, International Journal of the Sociology of Language (Nov 2016), pp. 217-37.

Chandrika Kaul, ‘Need Fulfilment: Society and Community in the Age of Digital Communication, The Indian example’, in R.G. Picard (ed.), What Society Needs from Media in the Age of Digital Communication, Iberia XXI, Lisbon, 2016, Chapter 7.

Frank Müller and Heidi Mehrkens (eds.), Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016).

  • Frank Müller, ‘“Winning their Trust and Affection”: Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe’, pp. 1-19.
  • Maria-Christina Marchi, ‘The Royal Shop Window: Royal Heirs and the Monarchy in Post-Risorgimento Italy, 1860–1878’, pp. 23-4.
  • Richard Meyer Forsting, ‘The Importance of Looking the Part: Heirs and Male Aesthetics in Nineteenth-Century Spain’, pp. 181-200.
  • Miriam Schneider, ‘A “Sporting Hermes”: Crown Prince Constantine and the Ancient Heritage of Modern Greece’, pp. 243-261.


James Palmer
, ‘Martyrdom and the Rise of Missionary Hagiography in the Late Merovingian World,’ in R. Flechner & M. Ní Mhaonaigh (eds.), The Introduction of Christianity into the Early Medieval Insular World (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 157-80.

Jacqueline Rose (ed.), The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707, Proceedings of the British Academy, 204 (Oxford University Press, 2016):

  • Michael Brown, ‘“Lele consail for the comoun profite”: Kings, Guardians and Councils in the Scottish Kingdom, c.1250-1450’
  • Claire Hawes (former St Andrews PhD student), ‘“Perverst counsale”? Rebellion, Satire and the Politics of Advice in Fifteenth-Century Scotland’
  • Roger Mason, ‘Counsel and Covenant: Aristocratic Conciliarism and the Scottish Revolution’
  • Jacqueline Rose, ‘The Problem of Political Counsel in Medieval and Early Modern England and Scotland’; ‘Sir Edward Hyde and the Problem of Counsel in Mid-Seventeenth-Century Royalist Thought’; ‘Councils, Counsel and the Seventeenth-Century Composite State’

Alex Woolf, ‘Plebs: Concepts of Community among Late Antique Britons,’ in R. Flechner & M. Ní Mhaonaigh (eds.), The Introduction of Christianity into the Early Medieval Insular World (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 225-36.

Publication Spotlight: Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe

coverBlog written by Professor Frank Lorenz Müller

In 1877 Archduke Rudolf, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, reached his majority. To mark this happy day, Field Marshall Archduke Albrecht, the stern Éminence grise of the Habsburg family, sent the young man a set of “aphorisms”, which contained a whole list of strict injunctions and dire warnings. Above all, Rudolf should make sure to eschew the “softening” (Verweichlichung) Albrecht was observing at other courts. For that way lay dishonour and loss of prestige. For the old field marshal, the princely profession was all about the splendour of majesty, about sticking rigidly to court and dynastic rules and about distance from the banal normality of human life.

For Albrecht, our new volume Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe would probably have been as unedifying a choice of bedtime reading as his austere aphorisms were for the wayward Rudolf. For the historians contributing first to our conference in 2015 and then to the volume which grew out of it, however, the phenomenon of royal power “going soft” – or at least adding a “soft” string to the bow of monarchical power – in the nineteenth century is not a cause for despair.

Rather than seeing the increasing attempts made by Europe’s dynasties to win over politically relevant audiences, to attract, cajole and persuade instead of forcing or coercing them, was a central component of monarchical survival. That these old dynastic dogs learned a whole bag of new tricks as they journeyed from commanding hard power to exercising influence is a sign of their resourcefulness and astuteness and not, as Archduke Albrecht would have argued, a symptom of a flaccid loss or moral fibre.

Organising our case studies round the famous concept of “soft power” – as coined by the American political scientist Joseph S. Nye – we invited historians specialising in many different European monarchies to explore how their dynasties sought to acquire this new skills set, to consider the different means they used and to assess the success of these efforts. Both our conference and now the volume have ranged from Spain to Norway, from Greece to the UK by way of Austria, the Netherlands, Prussia and Sweden. Our authors have analysed sports and public diplomacy, good looks and sartorial style, news management and the political market – while not neglecting love and marriage, dynastic virtues and the power of the visual in imperial settings.

HeirstothethroneMarking, as it did, the high-point of the AHRC-funded project Heirs to the Throne, the volume showcases the work of three St Andrews PhD students: Maria-Christina Marchi, Richard Meyer-Forsting and Miriam Schneider. It also adds to the list of volumes already published within the “Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy”, a series founded alongside the project and co-edited by Heidi Mehrkens and Frank Lorenz Müller in co-operation with Axel Körner (UCL) and Heather Jones (LSE), who both contributed to last year’s conference volume “Sons and Heirs”.

As the project is drawing to its official end, we look forward to more published research and to continuing our co-operation with Palgrave Macmillan. Meanwhile, we invite everyone to get hold of a copy of “Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power” – which, by the way, makes a terrific Christmas present – and to find out for themselves why Archduke Albrecht was wrong and “soft power” was not a bad thing for 19th-century heirs.

Postdoc Spotlight: Sarah Greer

 

Sarah Greer joined the School of History at St Andrews in September 2013 as a Marie Skłowdowska-Curie Research Fellow while she completed her PhD on ninth- and tenth-century Saxon female monasteries under the supervision of Professor Simon MacLean. This was not what she expected when she started her tertiary education. After graduating from a high-school history curriculum which focused almost exclusively on twentieth-century history, Sarah was determined to take as wide a range of modules as possible when she arrived at the University of Auckland. Three years followed of courses ranging from Ancient Egyptian religion to modern Australian history, but when she enrolled in a paper on the Later Roman Empire and the ‘barbarian’ kingdoms of Western Europe in her final semester she was hooked. Her Honours dissertation was on the origins of female monasticism in sixth-century Gaul; this was followed by a research masters on the function of double monasteries under the Merovingians and Carolingians in the sixth to eighth centuries and she was lured even closer to the High Middle Ages during her doctoral research. She is now peeking over at the Salian and Capetian dynasties with interest, but still likes to describe herself as an early medieval historian.

img_1079

Hrotsvitha presenting her Gesta Ottonis to Otto I, photo attrib. Sarah Greer

Sarah was fortunate enough to be able to come to St Andrews on a fellowship through a research network called Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom (PIMIC), which also included Professor John Hudson, Professor Caroline Humfress and Cory Hitt. As PIMIC was an EU-funded Innovative Training Network, this meant that in addition to working on her thesis, Sarah has spent the past three years also taking part in a variety of training workshops across Europe. She was also seconded to work at Brill Publishers in Leiden for three months in 2014; at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne for three months in 2015; and at the Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales in Madrid for two months in 2016. She also took part in a month-long documentary film school as part of PIMIC, and remains grateful to the PhD students from the Mediaeval department who stood in as various members of the Ottonian imperial family for her documentary on Mathilda of Quedlinburg.

img_1094

The city of Quedlinburg, photo attrib. Sarah Greer

Having submitted her doctoral thesis in September 2016, Sarah is delighted to be continuing her connection with both the School of History at St Andrews and the EU. She has been selected as the postdoctoral research fellow under the supervision of Professor MacLean as part of the new HERA-funded research network: ‘After Empire: Using and Not Using the Past in the Tenth Century’, which joins together historians from St Andrews, Exeter, Berlin, Vienna and Barcelona. Sarah will work on how tenth-century people interacted with earlier royal mausolea and used the memories of the past embedded in these sites in the post-Carolingian world. She is very happy to remain in Scotland for another three years on this fellowship, although she does at times miss New Zealand’s summers.

 

Monthly Round Up: October

islamNews

Congratulations to Professor Carole Hillenbrand, who has been awarded the prestigious Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding for her book, Islam: A New Historical Introduction (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2015). The prize, worth £25,000, is awarded annually for outstanding scholarly contribution to transcultural understanding. The award is designed to illustrate the interconnected nature of cultures and civilizations, and was founded by the International Relations scholar, Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan.

Staff Activity

On 7 and 8 October, Dr Aileen Fyfe and Dr Noah Moxham participated in an international conference in Paris on ‘Copyright and the Circulation of Knowledge: Industry Practices and Public Interests in Great Britain from the 18th Century to the Present’. They spoke about the Royal Society’s involvement in the publication of scientific knowledge, and explained how it was only in the late 20th century that the Society began to see ‘copyright’ as an appropriate tool for its scholarly mission to circulate knowledge

Dr Chandrika Kaul was the featured guest on BBC World Service Weekend Review, 16th October, where she also spoke about her research on the British press, the BBC and India.

On 19 and 20 October 2016, in Belgrade, Serbia, Dr Tomasz Kamusella delivered two talks on the same subject, namely, ‘The Forgotten 1989 Expulsion of Turks from Communist Bulgaria.’ The first talk was hosted by the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju) at the University of Belgrade, Belgrade, and the other by the Institute for Balkan Studies (Balkanološki institut) in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

On 27th October, Dr Aileen Fyfe appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ to discuss the scientist John Dalton.

gypsiesOn 29th October, Dr Alex Woolf gave a short talk ‘Pefferham Revived’at the Aberlady Anglo-Saxon Feast.

Recent Publications

Nathan Alexander, ‘E.D. Morel (1873-1924), the Congo Reform Association, and the History of Human Rights’, Britain and the World, Vol. 9, No. 2, (September 2016): pp. 213-235.

Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov, Gypsies in Central Asia and the Caucasus, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.