May 2020

Since I finished my teaching for this year at Lancaster, I’ve been keeping busy in several ways.  For one thing, I’ve taken a more hands on role in home schooling my daughter – so far it’s mainly been English Literature and science, but we’ll start feeding the history and music back in after half term.  I’m quite looking forward to learning about the American West! 

I’ve also compiled a report on the responses to the Lancaster Castle MOOC, on which I was a mentor last autumn.  It was a rather different experience to what I’ve done in the last few years, as I was using the data to create graphs and statistics as well as analysing the responses qualitatively.

The move to online work due to coronavirus has also opened up opportunities to attend lots of seminars that I would normally miss, only I keep forgetting about some of them.  I’ve been to a couple of the Digital Humanities Hangouts hosted at Lancaster and the Tudor Music Coffee Mornings, though.  This week I’m looking forward to an early modern reading group this week too – we’ve been reading Jennifer Richards’ Voices and Books, which I’ve found really interesting and potentially useful for my work on the Pilgrimage of Grace.  It certainly reflects my feelings about the importance of how texts were performed in early modern England.  More on that later, maybe. Things I keep forgetting about include the Historical Association’s Virtual Branch and the online seminar series hosted by St Anne’s College, Oxford… 

Back at the beginning of the year I was asked to write a blog post about Singing the News for the Social History Society website. I decided to take the Cromwell ballads as my starting point to think about what songs can tell us about 16th century England. You can read my post here.

On Tuesday morning, I taught my last seminar of the academic year. Yes, I’ve still got a stack of grading to do and various bits of admin, I’ve got a supervision meeting with my doctoral student and a report to write for the impact project based on the Lancaster Castle MOOC, but I’ve taught my last seminar of the academic year. Having been made redundant by Liverpool Hope last Christmas when my contract came to an end, and with no guarantee that I’ve got any work coming up next academic year, it’s sobering to think that it might not just have been my last seminar of the academic year.

It might have been my last seminar.

Once again, I am staring into the abyss of a summer with no money coming in, and with the current situation with Covid-19, the freelance work that I do has all gone too. And with universities tightening their budgets for the next academic year, my future is more uncertain than ever.

Doe Castle