Wednesday 14 October 2009


What a great start to the new term. I dont think there's a history lab in the country that could do what NEW HISTORY LAB has done and be WITH CALF at the same time. Consider this:

First we opened with Closure and heard about doing postgraduate work from those who have just finished. First up was Marie with a wonderfully candid and witty account of how to do an MA, work at John Lewis, keep your friends, learn Russian, run a literature group, keep your complexion and stay sane all at the same time.

Then there was Siobhan who has just finished her PhD. Siobhan told the LAB (there must have been 60 present) the single most important thing a long distance postgraduate needs to know. You could pay thousands for this advice from an educational consultant but Dr Begley gave it to us for free. PhDs involve a long journey where there is no map. Or if there is, you have to make your own. Nobody can do it for you. And when you have made it, you are transformed.

Julie Deeming followed that (and not many people could follow that) with a discourse on the difference between writing and writing up. Writing up is a bad idea. Writing is the good idea. It makes the map - and the earlier the better, and the more often the better. So let's drop that terrible university phrase borrowed from the sciences - 'writing up' - and let's remember that what we do and what we know is what we write.

Finally, as examiner of over forty doctorates, Professor Chris Dyer told us about the world we have lost - the world of research as it was in the time of King Alfred when he did his. For in those times nobody gave (or had) a hoot and bad advice abounded in the land. On the other hand, jobs were plentiful and examiners, when not drunk, were generous.

Thanks to all speakers for the nmost beautiful combination of great good advice and great good humour. That's the way we like it.

More NEW HISTORY LAB achievements later in the week.