Just A Minute With… Dr. Rob Dale

rob daleDr Rob Dale is Lecturer in Russian History, specialising in twentieth-century Russian and Soviet history, especially the late Stalinist period (1945-1953). He studied for a BA in History at York, an MA in History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and a PhD in Russian History at QMUL. Find him on twitter @DrRobDale

  1. Which famous historian would you most like to meet for a drink, and why?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of my historiographical heroes for a drink. I’d most like a drink with Elena Zubkova, the historian who almost singlehandedly put the study of late Stalinism back on the map.

  1. What advice would you have for current UG or early stage PG students?

Never ever go anywhere without a book. You never know when your bus breaks down, the person you are meeting will be late, and ten minutes appear when you could read something interesting.

  1. What book are you currently reading?

I’m reading several. Owen Hatherley’s Landscapes of Communism, which is introducing me to the architecture of parts of the Communist world I’ve never visited, and Sheila Fitzpatrick’s new book On Stalin’s Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics, which is written with her usual wit, precision and deep understanding.

  1. What is the most important life skill you learnt whilst being a PGR student?

The ability to root out the cheapest flights, rail tickets and hotel rooms, and live off a diet of buckwheat, salted cucumbers, and kefir.

  1. What do you enjoy the most about being part of the history, classics and archaeology department at Newcastle?

Interaction with our students. Having taught in a number of institutions, I think the make-up of our student body generates really fascinating discussions. I love working in the Armstrong building too.

  1. What would your perfect day away from work be?

I’d probably still be reading and working, but in the Russian National Library in Saint-Petersburg. I’d spend the day reading different materials in the different reading rooms, but spend lots of time in the tea room and buffet talking to Russian colleagues.

  1. What’s the question you’d most like to have been asked (and why)?

Are you available to keep wicket for England next week? I’m a huge cricket fan, and love keeping wicket.

  1. If given complete freedom to start over, what profession would you like to do and why?

I’d probably want to do something where I could spend more time in the open-air. I like idea of working for the forestry commission in some capacity.

  1. What is your favourite movie quote?

“With great power comes great responsibility.” (Peter Parker, Spiderman)

  1. What’s next for Rob?

I’m about to start working on an article about the upkeep of soldiers’ graves in the late Stalinist period. The material is really exciting, and I think it tells us something important about Soviet War Memory.

Best of luck with the research, Rob. Until next time…!

Just a Minute with… Lauren Emslie

me1Lauren Emslie, 2nd year PhD student in classics, studying religion and theology in the late Roman republic. She is also currently chair of the PGF and organising AMPAH 2016.

She has a self-defined “slight social-media aversion” (although likes meeting people in person!), so it took a while, but we finally got her to sit down and answer a few questions for us…

1. How did you come to be interested in your current area of research? 

From a young age I was fascinated by ‘the Romans’. When I came to university I started learning Latin and from there fell in love with ancient literature.

2. What advice would you have for current UG or early stage PG students?

Keep reading!

3. Can you describe your research in three words?

Religion, Gods, and Cicero

4. What book are you currently reading?

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

5. What is the most important life skill you learnt whilst being a PGR student?

When to use a backpack for your books.

6.  Do you have favourite hidden gems of Newcastle?

It may not be so secret, but the view down the river from the Free Trade Inn on any day is one of my favourites.

7. What is your favourite movie quote?

“For a special agent, you’re not having a very special day, are you?” (Waverly, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015))

Thanks Lauren – see you around here soon!

“Disrupting the Notion”: A Postgraduate Conference

Last Friday (22nd May 2015) saw Newcastle University’s 12th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference go off with a bang. A really fantastic range of papers and posters were presented from Newcastle and beyond, displaying some really varied research.

The theme of the conference was “Disruptions”, which had taken root from marketing and commercial theory, as chair Amy Shields explained in her introduction. I think it is fair to say that each paper developed and worked with this theme in really varied and fruitful directions.

The first panel comprised of Skylar Arbuthnot, Samuel Pearson and Victoria Hughes. Arbuthnot gave us some interesting food for thought in local archaeology by suggesting that the understood disruption of Roman settlement could be rethought if we looked for forts in different places. Pearson followed this with an interesting discussion of Lollards and Lollardy heretics in Elizabethan England, and the evidence for and against familial conversion. Finally Hughes looked at some of the Christian responses to a Pagan emperor in the Roman world, and the disruption they felt it caused to their religion.

This was followed by a quick break and a discussion from our keynote speaker, Harry Dickinson (Edinburgh University) who showed a fantastic range of caricature imagery from Britain during the French Revolution and the comedic responses that disruption caused in this country. He almost caused a disruption of his own when he revealed in a denouement that he is, although local, a Sunderland supporter!

After that was a very posh spread for lunch!

Our second panel was Stephanie Moat, Andrew Marriot and myself, Chris Mowat. Moat took the idea of non-classical art styles being regarded as “inferior” in classical archaeologist scholarship and disrupted it herself with the theory of mimetic practice. Marriott then took us to one of the world’s biggest disruptions, the First World War, and looked at how trench art can actually provide new ways of thinking about the historical, military and social developments and outcomes of the war. Thirdly my own paper looked at dreams in the Roman Republic as not simply a disruption of sleep but also a message of potential disruption to the future, and how gender reinforced structures of importance, even in sleep.

The third panel had John Burke and Anthony Stewart. Burke provided stimulating discussion regarding the ongoing disruption of the island of Cyprus by looking at the ‘ghost-town’ of Famagusta, and Stewart took us into Haiti with a look at the local religion of Vodou and the island’s cultural understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.

The poster session showed off, in particular, some of the varied work being done by Masters students.

The final panel of the day was Steven Server and Ben Morton. Server took us through the political climate of the US in the ‘6os and ‘70s through the lens of risk theory, and the disruptions to society and politics during the period. Finally, Morton brought us back to thinking about the theme as a whole and the way we as historians, classicists and archaeologists look at static movement and disruption.

At the wine reception, the Keith Wrightson and Norman McCall prizes were presented. The runner up prize was presented to Andrew Moat, and the winner for the best paper was Stephanie Moat; for posters, Victoria Bell won the runner up prize, with Stacey Astill being the winner.

I, on behalf of the PGF, would like to give a big thank you to Keith Wrightson and Norman McCall for, as always, supporting our event and taking a keen interest in our postgraduate research community – Thank You.

As well, we would like to thank the speakers and audience through the day for the stimulating presentations and fascinating discussion. The whole day was a great success and a lot of good fun. We would all also like to thank Shields for organising and chairing a fantastic conference – thank you!

See you all next year!

Chris Mowat

PGF Committee Member


Welcome to our site!

We are a really dynamic and enthusiastic group of History, Classics and Archaeology postgraduates, with lots of exciting ideas being bounced around.

Armstrong Building, Newcastle University
Armstrong Building, Newcastle University

As we all know, doing your PhD or MA is hardly a walk in the park; everyone is isolated by the uniqueness of their research, which can make it seem like no one really understands what you are going through. We also know that it can be difficult for people to get involved if they don’t live locally, if they work, or are doing their PhD part time. That is why, this year, we are making a concerted effort to match our lively presence within the School with a lively online presence! We have already started blogging on the School-blog, Beyond Frontiers, and you can easily find us as we will always be tagged ‘Postgraduate’. If you have something you would like to blog about, whether you would like share a conference experience or a research idea, please send it to our IT Officer, Lauren, at l.emslie@ncl.ac.uk. Alternatively, if you have an idea for one and would like to chat about it, please do come and find us or e-mail one of our committee members, who will be happy to chat to you about it! If you would like more information, read our ‘Letter from the Chair’.  You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

On this site, we aim to get to know each other better and share our research interests.  We will use this space to advertise our events and update you through our monthly newsletters.  In the next few days we will collecting information for our postgraduate profiles, which we would like to post up on this site (hopefully along with a picture, so we can all put faces to the names!).  And in the new year, we will be publishing our e-Journal.

There is lots going on, so watch this space!

The PGF committee.