Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Liberal Party and the Great War

On 22nd May, the lab played host to Dr. Gavin Freeman, a former committee member and chairman. He took as his subject 'The Liberal Party and the Great War', giving us a detailed narrative of the power dynamics at work within the British governement during the First World War. I was particularly interested to hear about the extent to which the Liberals were divided over how to conduct the war, with conscription being a particular area of contention. As Prime Minister of a coalition government, Lloyd George chiefly relied on Conservative support in order to maintain power and prosecute the war effort. This raises uncomfortable questions of whether ideology must necessarily be compromised in order to face a national crisis.

With histories of the First World War often focussing on the 'mud and blood' of the trenches, it is important to remember that events on the front had considerable ramifications for those in Westminster and a lasting effect on the political landscape of this country.

Many thanks to Gavin for his time. At our next event, Sam Grinsell will be presenting 'Listen Up! Moments in the History of Sound.'

Thursday, 21 May 2015

'The Liberal Party & the Great War'

Tomorrow, the lab welcomes back Dr. Gavin Freeman - a former committee member and chairman!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How I learned to stop worrying and got a job

On 8th May, in the first of our Spring/Summer series of events, New History Lab hosted three Leicester alumni who spoke of their experiences in the job market after finishing their Masters degrees.
First up, Mark Small told us how he came to work at the Bristol Record Office, a path which began with a trip to Bath during his Masters which led to a job with the Churches Conservation Trust. The Masters then, was not simply a qualification to put on the CV but the inspiration for a potential career path. The overarching message from Mark was not to plan your career, or at least, don’t stick to a plan if other opportunities arise. And so, Mark told us how he moved from old buildings to old documents via the Red Lodge, Bristol’s smallest museum.

Secondly, Tim Savage recounted the ups and downs of postgraduate careers, or as he put it ‘the good, the bad & the ugly’, in a funny and engaging manner. Tim’s postgraduate career has involved many jobs, from call centres to the heritage sector. In his most recent job at the Carnegie Museum in Melton, Tim has been working on a very exciting project with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps; with postgraduate careers, it’s always great to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

Last but not least, Mike Fox told us of his work with the campaigning organisation SAVE Britain’s Heritage. Having completed a Masters in Urban Conservation, Mike set about putting theory into practice, participating in campaigns to try and preserve many historic buildings. While I can’t speak for anyone else in the audience, a particular favourite of mine was Wentworth Woodhouse, a large country house in danger of losing its ‘wings’, the house having been undermined for coal after the Second World War.

It was great to hear about career opportunities for postgraduates and what three former students have got up to since they left. All of the speakers were Centre for Urban History alumni and we thank Roey Sweet, Director of CUH, for helping to organise the event. Our next event comes this Friday (15th May) with a Ghost Tour of Leicester.

Aaron Andrews

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Summer Labs!

Yes that's right! We have a jam-packed summer planned with a pub crawl, advice on funding applications and even a film lab. Check out this poster and more to follow throughout the following months. Don't forget our first lab of the summer this Friday in Attenborough 111 for tea, cake and non-academic job advice!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Wellcome's Institute of Sexology Exhibit

On Saturday I decided to visit the Wellcome Trust's Institute of Sexology Exhibit after many, many, suggestions to do so by friends and colleagues. As a self-proclaimed 'sexologist-in-training' I was quite curious to see what this exhibit had to offer, particularly because of its association with the Kinsey Institute of America.

There was a bit of a wait since only so many people can be in the exhibit at once and also because it's FREE. I was handed a booklet with vague summary and history of some of the collection which also had a blank page at the back reserved for notes. I wish I had brought a pen with me but staff are also happy to lend a pen if you look excited and deranged enough.

On entering the exhibit, the first thing I saw was a chastity belt. I knew I had struck gold with this exhibit. I will admit that my research interests are a little out of the ordinary but this exhibit made me feel quite ordinary. There were illustrated scenes from the kama sutra, films of animals mating and even equipment from the famous experiments by Dr. Masters and Virginia Johnson. The exhibit was slightly out of my time period with the major case studies carried out on Freud, Stopes and Kinsey but it was interesting nonetheless and I would definitely go again. I would also encourage others to visit the exhibit to understand the discipline of sexology.

On Friday we have a Wellcome Trust Fellow from the University of Leicester coming to talk about her experience of life after the PhD. We encourage people to come along to ask Eureka questions about the process of applying for funding and fellowships after postgraduate study as well as about her current research project!

The link for details on the exhibit can be found here: http://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/institute-sexology

Friday, 27 February 2015

Discover Special Collections, meet in Library Seminar Room

For tonight's lab please join us in the Library Seminar Room, not Attenborough 206. If you do not have access to the library please email you details to Jennie jb573@le.ac.uk and we will give your name to the library staff :)

Saturday, 21 February 2015

'Everyday life in East Germany' and 'Discover Special Collections'

This week we have two events to promote! In our usual Friday lab slot we will be joined by Simon Dixon from the David Wilson Library, who will be talking about the Special Collections' holdings and how we might make the most of them.
Before that on Thursday night, in a joint event with the Centre for Urban History, New History Lab will be proud to present special guest Lisa Zorn from Bauhaus University. She will be speaking on 'Everyday life in East Germany'. This will be at usual lab time, but in our old home of 5 Salisbury Road.
A busy week ahead, we hope to see as many of you around as possible!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

2015 so far

Blink and you end up a month and a half into the year! The days are getting longer and the sun a little warmer; it won't be long before we're surrounded by daffodils, swallows, lambs, rabbit-shaped chocolates and other harbingers of springtime. Meanwhile, here are my thoughts on the labs we've had so far, and what we can look forward to over the rest of the term...

New History Lab Showcase

Our original timetable for this term started on January 30th, but we decided that we simply couldn't wait that long. Also, while we love having eminent guests sharing their knowledge, part of the remit of the lab is to encourage postgrads to speak about their own research and propose their own events. With this in mind we planned an 'in house' lab with talks from myself, Katie Bridger and Matt Wale. With our different interests (colonial Khartoum, medieval Leicestershire and Victorian scientific periodicals respectively) we also hoped to have something to appeal to everyone.
I won't say much about my talk except to mention that I really, really hadn't slept much before writing and delivering it. If this was discernible to those of you there, I apologise. Katie's talk on the gentry of North West Leicestershire introduced me to an area of history I knew little about. In particular, I found the linking of the histories of particular families to landscape and architectural history fascinating. This has much to add, I think, to how we relate modern concerns around the construction of place to more traditional histories of elites.
Matt's evocation of the lively discourses carried on in the pages of nineteenth-century scientific journals featured an intriguing array of characters and claims. Many contributors were amateurs who had day jobs but also pursued an intense interest in (for example) hedgehogs. The cheap printing of the late nineteenth century enabled the growth of specialist journals through which likeminded scientists could exchange thoughts, plans and specimens.
We were gratified to have a good attendance for an event near the start of term, and it was great to gather in the pub once again and catch up with friends after the long break.

The World's Your Oyster

Two weeks later we gathered for an event that was something of a departure from our usual format: rather than a talk, or set of talks, we would be hosting a discussion of how best to introduce undergraduates to global history through a first year module currently being designed. This was an opportunity for the lab to play a role in shaping the undergraduate curriculum, and to gain some insight into how modules are constructed.
Toby Lincoln and Deborah Toner began the session by outlining the aims of the module and the structure agreed upon so far. There were additional contributions and comments from Clare Anderson, Bernard Attard, Katherine Foxhall and Prashant Kidambi. After some general discussion, attendees broke into groups to work on proposals for themes that might attract an undergraduate student, and which could provide linking threads through the module. The session closed with more general discussion, and a white-board busy with ideas and connections.
Although much stimulating debate was had, an hour was perhaps rather a short period in which to hope to build much consensus, especially given the number of people present. Certainly the event brought out the complexities involved in designing this kind of module, and also opened up possibilities for thinking more broadly about how we approach teaching global history to undergraduates. My own conclusion was that one module can only be the tip of the iceberg, and that delivering some of the grander aims global history requires embedding concerns around international networks and flows through the broader curriculum. This doesn't, of course, deny the need for an introductory module, but I think this can only be the beginning of an ongoing process. I will quote Nicola Blacklaws, who will be known to many of you and attended the event, as saying that this course should be 'a gateway drug'.*

And All That's To Come

The rest of this term we have a great range of labs: Steven King will be talking about nineteenth century courtship; Simon Dixon from the library will be presenting an introduction to the special collections; postdoc researcher Eureka Henrich will be offering her thoughts on life beyond the PhD; and former committee member Tom Hulme will be speaking on what is the best title I have ever read: 'Bishops, Dinosaurs, and Robot Soldiers of Death: Performing 'History' in Twentieth Century Britain'. Now, should really get on with a poster to match that!

(We also have some special collaborative events in the works, which will be announced shortly. Watch this space!)

*The NHL Committee only condone the kind of substances that can be purchased in pubs