One of the best things about the taught MA is that, like a BA, you get to work on a number of smaller projects in the run up to the mighty dissertation (a meaty 20,000 words rather than the 10,000 at BA level). This introduces a level of variety that I, for one, really enjoy. In the last two years I’ve worked on the medieval landscapes of Ludlow and its environs; the relationship between Thomas, Lord Coningsby and the town of Leominster; a project evaluating what a small country churchyard in the south of Shropshire can reveal about the community and culture of the parish it serves; and finally, a project asking what Joyce Jeffrey’s Household Accounts could reveal about her local identity. Each of these has resulted in a document numbering around 5,000 words and each one has been great fun to research and write – the bigger word count means there’s more room to play with and to explore complex themes. Continue reading
As part of my MA dissertation I’ve been researching the case of Robert Foulkes, and I gave a paper on a part of my research at the University of Leicester’s School of History Postgraduate Conference on May 17th. The full title was ‘Every step thou makest in sin, brings thee in greater danger’: The penitential sermon of Robert Foulkes‘, and I’d like to write a little bit about that paper here.
I’ve written about Robert Foulkes before, and his affair with Ann, and the dreadful circumstances that led him to commit murder. In the paper I gave, I focused on two different theories around execution, and explored which I thought Robert Foulkes’s case might be more relevant towards. Continue reading
I blinked… and suddenly, it’s January.
Last I knew I was giving a paper at a conference, and then it was a case of … well, head down, and keep on charging through. I didn’t really get time to think, let alone think about writing here. I have missed it though, which is why I’m back here today: things have cleared enough that I’m no longer impersonating a bull determined to get through that red cloak if it kills him, and I can put my head up and breathe…. and think, reflect. Continue reading
Having had a look around the internet this morning, this doesn’t seem to be discussed anywhere [feel free to correct me if I’m wrong]. But I think it’s an important thing that has to be dealt with – the thing being the post-conference come down, for those who presented a paper at a conference. If you’ve only attended conferences, then this isn’t for you, or if you’re a seasoned conference speaker, then maybe you don’t need to worry about this so much. But for people like me, finding their feet, their speaking style, their research methodology and topics … basically, their confidence in who they are as academics and speakers, this is certainly something that needs to be discussed.
What is post-conference come down? In the period immediately after the conference, there may be some jubiliation, a high, if you feel as though you’ve done well, a sense of relief, perhaps. There may not be, and that’s okay. This isn’t meant to be prescriptive, a “you must feel these things after the conference” list. Everyone feels things differently. But after the high, and perhaps if you didn’t have a high, and certainly if you struggle with imposters syndrome, the doubt and the questioning can start to set in. ‘I only got one question!’ … you might think. ‘I ran over by a few minutes, had to drop a couple of slides’. ‘I didn’t explain that bit very well..’. The exact words & phrases will of course differ, but the underlying emotional tones are the same: self-doubt, questioning, and if you did have a high, that drop from the high to the self-doubt and questioning is horrible. Really, and truly emotionally horrible, and it can be enough to really badly knock you off your path as an academic. It can come out in a number of ways: being grumpy, being teary, lethargic, not wanting to do any work, right through to feeling really low, down, and perhaps even depressed and wanting to quit.