Monday 22 May saw the annual conference for the History department’s MA programmes. Students are invited to showcase their dissertation topics, which will be written over the summer.
These topics span the Medieval, Early Modern and Modern periods, and include themes such as the medieval oral tradition (David Sloan); the legacy of New Orleans voodoo (Camilla Raynsford); the history of the poppy in Britain and Ireland (Catriona Allon); the reintegration of disabled soldiers into society in South Wales after WWI (Matthew Royston); multiculturalism and racism in twentieth-century Britain (Lowri Evans); and the Conservative party in modern Wales (Rachel Henley), to name a few.
Here are three examples of the topics presented:
Jane Baron’s presentation was titled ‘The Contribution Made by Rational Dissenters and Utilitarians to Gender Debates in Britain, c. 1780-1860’. The aims of this dissertation are to determine what the main debates in gender discourse of the time were, who was participating in these debates, and what reaction they elicited. Focussing on a select few dissenters and utilitarians, and the networks formed between these, this dissertation intends to give an equal platform to male as well as female gender issues.
Then Chloe Jones presented ‘Women on Trial after the Rwandan Genocide 1994’, which will analyse the women who participated in the Rwandan genocide. It will cover the women who occupied positions of power as well as those engaging on a more ‘ground level’. The aims are to investigate why these women participated, to what extent they did, and the extent to which judicial punishment differed according to the women’s power.
Rebekah Driscoll presented on ‘Disobedience in Monasteries’, focussing on monasteries in South Wales operating from the Norman Conquest to c.1400. Some examples of monastic disobedience were outlined: these included breaking out of prison, elopement with nuns, and abusing the wives and daughters of nearby towns. This dissertation aims to answer – what was defined as disobedience? To what extent was disobedience in monasteries a problem for South Wales? Were there any monasteries with a particular problem, and did any have to close?
As these three examples suggest, the structure of the presentations involved outlining the aims, sources, and historiography of the intended dissertations. As a result, the students are encouraged at this early stage to deeply consider the logistics of their chosen topic: will there be enough primary sources? What scope (e.g. timeframe) should they aim for? From this, the students emerge well-equipped to tackle their research topics over the summer.
Dr Christoph Laucht, director of the MA in History, writes that this conference forms an important part of the History department’s MA programmes. He says, ‘Not only does it provide our MA students with an opportunity to showcase their exciting dissertation projects to fellow students and staff members and to get constructive feedback on their work, but it also helps them to develop key communication and presentation skills, important employability skills in today’s world.’
The medievalists at the conference.
By Amy Megson, Web Design and Communications Officer.