March 2012


Last week was a busy week. It started with a Spanish listening test (I don’t think I’ve done very well) and finished with my youngest child’s 5th birthday and a party in the garden with family and a few of his friends. Fitted into the middle was my first research panel, which took about 45 minutes and went very well.

My supervisors were very pleased with my academic writing, which is good because they were a bit worried that as I haven’t done an MA my academic writing wouldn’t be as good. They also thought that my engagement with my sources was very good and that in places I had woven in the secondary literature very well. We discussed ideas on where the work could go, particularly in the direction of the funding of pro-Marian publications and other sources of evidence such as sermons, speeches and letters. It was particularly nice to be complimented on my footnotes! The new title for the work (and it’s still not absolutely finalised) is ‘Selling Mary Tudor: Images of Catholic Queenship in the Reign of Mary I’.

On Friday I had a meeting of nearly two hours with my main supervisor to carefully go over the written work that I had handed in for the panel meeting and discuss where it could have more detail. We looked at other areas of secondary reading, and at the moment I’m reaading Kevin Sharpe’s ‘Selling Tudor Monarchy’, which is interesting but very long and quite heavy going. So far I’ve read 100 pages and it’s taken me two days. Anyway, I also have to look at some works on mnemonics and memory.

I’ve got a long list of things that need doing before my next meeting in a month’s time, including visiting the Talbot Library in Preston. I also have a lot of people to contact for advice and lots of little bits and pieces to do as well as the secondary reading and the redrafting of some of the work. All great fun of course, if a little bit daunting!

I sent off my first piece of research work to my supervisors today. It’s about the positive representations of Mary I during her reign. A lot of the images that writers use are biblical, and a couple of ballad writers refer to her as the marigold. There is even a ‘godly Psalm’ about her, written by a Protestant. I’ve left the anti-Spanish material to one side for now, and the works by Knox that are against Mary.

I’ve now been looking at the material and my written work for so long that I can’t be entirely sure how original it is, which is a rather strange experience.

I have another Spanish exam to prepare for next week, and then I have my first supervisory panel next week. Part of me is quite looking forward to it.

Come October, I’m going to be a Trustee of the Historical Association.  I stood as a candidate about a month ago, but as there were only a couple of nominations we didn’t have to go to an election.   I’m rather looking forward to it.

An interesting sort of week.  I have been trying to polish up my work, which is due in next Wednesday, but it’s impossible to switch off  from the analysis.  It keeps expanding instead of being cut!  I keep finding bits that need more explanation, so more explanation goes in, or another hour or two or more is lost looking for the further explanation.  Lost isn’t really the right word, I suppose, as it’s useful work, it just takes time.  Anyway, I think it’s improving.  I just hope that I get to tell my supervisory panel what I know the problems are and the areas where it needs more work before they tell me!

I spent two mornings this week watching research presentations by applicants for jobs in early modern history.  It was certainly an educative experience, in that you could see what the other staff were looking for in a colleague and what the standard questions and comments were.