Postgraduate Spotlight: Jordan Girardin

jgirardinJordan Girardin grew up in the French region of Franche-Comté, only eight miles away from the Swiss border. He undertook his first degree at Sciences Po in Lyon, where he focused on both Communication and Political Studies. This included a year-long programme at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he was able to specialise in 18th and 19th century history. In 2012 Jordan decided to leave France’s gastronomic capital to move to St Andrews and to join the MLitt in Modern History, which he completed twelve months later. He has remained loyal to the School of History, by starting his PhD at St Andrews in September 2013 under the supervision of Dr Bernhard Struck.

Geneva: network hub and Alpine gateway? © Bibliothèque de Genève / VIATICALPES

Geneva: network hub and Alpine gateway? © Bibliothèque de Genève / VIATICALPES

Jordan’s main research interest is the study of networks, particularly in border regions, which explains his general enthusiasm for transnational history. Logically, his PhD thesis examines the development of travel networks and intellectual flows in the Alpine region (1750-1830). His MLitt dissertation consisted of a spatial analysis of transnational interactions in the County of Montbéliard, before and after its annexation by Revolutionary France (1770-1820). Jordan is also a keen historian of the Napoleonic era: his work (in French) on Napoleon’s decisive journey between Grenoble and Lyon during the Hundred Days is available in the Napoleon Foundation’s digital library.

Outside of his doctoral research, Jordan is involved in the Centre for Transnational History as a Communications Intern, hoping to develop the Centre’s visibility in St Andrews as well as abroad as part of the GRAINES Network. This year, Jordan is organising a workshop entitled “Mapping Flows & Visualising Data in the Era of Digital Humanities“. He has also helped to co-convene the Early Modern and Modern History Postgraduate Forum, including running the forum website, and teaches his mother tongue in the University’s evening language programme. In his spare time, besides repeatedly playing The Killers on his ukulele, Jordan likes to keep his Lyonnais and Philadelphian habits alive, always looking for a new restaurant or pub to try among the streets of Edinburgh. Jordan is passionate about travelling and particularly enthusiastic about railways, which is a topic that it’s best not to mention when he is around. You can reach Jordan online on his personal website or on Twitter.

Transnational History – Calls for Papers

SWWprojectThe GRAINES network, of which the St Andrews Centre for Transnational History is an active member, has recently released its call for papers for this year’s summer school, taking place in Vienna. This year’s theme is “The European City in Transformation: from the Early Modern Period to the Present”.

The Flying University of Transnational Humanities has also released a call for papers for this year’s meeting at the University of Pittsburgh, which can be downloaded here. The theme is “Globalization East”. Dr Bernhard Struck and Dr Konrad Lawson, both of St Andrews, have recently joined the FUTH steering committee.

Plans are currently underway to bring both the GRAINES summer school and the FUTH annual meeting to St Andrews in the summer of 2015.

Transnational History Retreat, 22-24 January 2014

The Centre for Transnational History recently hosted an inter-semester retreat by Loch Tay in the Scottish Highlands. One of the PGs researching in the centre, Dawn Jackson Williams, reports on a trip that combined enlivening intellectual discussion with taste bud-challenging whisky tastings…

Members of the retreat on Kenmore Hill (photograph: Alexander van Wickeren).

Members of the retreat on Kenmore Hill (photograph: Alexander van Wickeren).

The Transnational History retreat began, appropriately enough, with its 24 participants travelling from various points around the globe to reach Loch Tay, with scholars arriving from Vienna, Basel, and the United States. The group included PhD students attached to the Centre for Transnational History, staff members teaching the Crossing Borders Masters module and a number of their MLitt students, and representatives of the cross-European GRAINES network and steering committee. The retreat was also attended by members of the Heirs to the Thrones project.

The base for activities was Morenish House, once a laird’s dwelling near the shores of Loch Tay. Once the fire was burning well its cosy living room made the ideal setting for the first organised discussion of the weekend, on global history and the circulation of knowledge. This was followed by a stubbornly un-transnational, but very delicious roast dinner. Such fortifying fare was very much necessary, as the group was then treated to a whisky-tasting session under the tutelage of the Director of the Centre, Dr Bernhard Struck. The transnational nature of the modern whisky trade was discussed (Scotch whisky is, apparently, aged in casks previously used for Bourbon in the States) and various attendees were mildly chastised for their lack of their appreciation of an especially peaty Islay whisky.

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The view from Morenish House (photograph: Alexander van Wickeren).

The following morning it was agreed that such a rarely fine Scottish day as could be spied through the windows could not be wasted indoors. The majority of the group made for the easterly lip of the loch, from where they launched a brief venture up Kenmore Hill. Breathtaking views of snow-covered Ben Lawers were had from the high point, and as there so happened to be a distillery in the area the group descended to enjoy a tour at Dewar’s World of Whisky in Aberfeldy. The tour guides responded admirably to a barrage of questions regarding the embeddedness of their production within a wider global trade in spirits…

Upon returning to Morenish House the retreat split up into two groups, to discuss, respectively, cities and urban spaces, and questions of spatial and temporal scale in history. In the latter group a reading from the American Historical Review inspired an intense debate regarding the place and potential role of ‘deep time’ within historical narratives. After the session members of the GRAINES network discussed plans for forthcoming summer schools. The closing dinner, appropriately enough considering the proximity of Burns’ Night, took the form of haggis, neeps, and tatties.

After the dispersal of part of the group the following morning, a smaller cohort with neither flights nor other pressing business to hasten towards took a leisurely route back to St Andrews, with a visit to the partially ruined cathedral of Dunkeld, rounding off the retreat in aptly historic style. All in all, the two days provided valuable formal discussions but also, perhaps more importantly, they also provided the time and opportunity for participants to share their thoughts and ideas in a variety of contexts. The retreat also looked forward, as plans were set into motion for a GRAINES summer school in Vienna this summer, and another in St Andrews in 2015.

Why Study History at St Andrews?

Why study History at St Andrews? Our Director of Teaching, Dr Bernhard Struck, answers this question.

Spotlight on Bernhard Struck

Bernhard StruckDr Bernhard Struck came from the Free University Berlin to St Andrews in 2006. Originally from northern Germany, he studied History, Philosophy and Political Sciences in Kiel, Berlin and Lyon before embarking on a “co-tutelle de thèse” PhD in Berlin and Paris between 2000 and 2003. Bernhard’s first teaching position was at the Centre for French History and Culture at the Technical University before joining and co-directing the former Berlin School for Comparative European History at the Free University Berlin between 2004 and 2006.


nichtwest_w300Bernhard has a broad interest in modern European history since the eighteenth century, though his main focus has been on the German Lands, Poland and France. His first book, Nicht West – nicht Ost. Frankreich und Polen in der Wahrnehmung deutscher Reisender zwischen 1750 und 1850, analysed travel writing and a number of spatial issues including border-lands between Germany, Poland and France in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The second book, Revolution, Krieg und Verflechtung, 1789-1815, which just came out with Septentrion in French translation, is a comparative and transnational synthesis on German-French history between 1789 and 1815. Bernhard is currently finishing “Mapping Germanies”, a monograph that analyses cartographic representations of the nation during the long nineteenth century.

Bernhard book copySince 2009 Bernhard, along with a number of colleagues, has launched the Centre for Transnational History. Along with the Centre he has been involved in setting up new courses along comparative and transnational history such as MO5710 Crossing Borders: European History in Transnational Perspectives and more recently MO5612 Global History, Globalisation and its Histories. At undergraduate level Bernhard is still passionate about travel teaching MO3217 Travel Cultures in Europe or MO4914 The German Enlightenment in European Perspectives.

Beyond academia Bernhard is a keen and (according to his own accounts) a highly talented tennis player and an equally enthusiastic (though less talented) football player. Prospective PhDs students should be aware that sharing his weak spot for watching football, in particular Bayern Munich, may not harm their relationship with their supervisor.

UG Hazel Blair awarded essay prize by Groundings Ancients

Groundings Ancients

Third-year honours Mediaeval History student Hazel Blair has been awarded the prize for the best essay published in the new undergraduate journal Groundings Ancients. The prize was judged by the academic advisory board of the journal, made up of academic staff of the four ancient universities of Scotland. Hazel was awarded the prize by Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor of Glasgow University, and presented with a cheque at the launch of the journal at the University of Glasgow last week.


Groundings Ancients, which is an offshoot of the Glasgow University undergrad journal Groundings, chooses twelve undergraduate arts and humanities essays to be published in each issue, three each from the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen.

Hazel’s article is called ‘The end of time in sixth century Francia: Bishop Gregory of Tours’ Histories’ and was written for Dr James Palmer’s honours module ME3232 Mediaeval Apocalyptic Traditions c.400 – c.1200 in semester 1 of 2012-13.

The journal and Hazel’s article can be accessed online on the Groundings Ancients website or in hard copy at the British Library and the University of Glasgow’s Library and Archives, The Bodleian, Cambridge, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, and Trinity College Dublin.

The academic advisory board of Groundings Ancients includes the School of History’s Dr Bernhard Struck.

In summer 2013 Hazel will take up an Undergraduate Research Internship awarded by the University of St Andrews and to be supervised by Dr Katie Stevenson.