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Organising a Conference, or: How to act like a swan!

By Mareike Ahlers (Archaeology PhD)

Graciously gliding across the water, swans have the uncanny ability to present a serene picture of themselves to the world above the water. Underneath the water, however, their feet are paddling frantically to keep them afloat. This sounds very much like organising a conference.

On the 20/21st November 2015, my colleague, Lucy Cummings, and I hosted the 2nd Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium (NEBARSS). Full of new experiences, it was both our first go at organising a conference and our first time presenting an academic paper. You can imagine then, that this was a little daunting! Our conference was a great success. Everyone—guests, colleagues, and staff—was really pleased with how it went. Our effort and organisation certainly paid-off, but it was not without its difficulties.

Starting on Friday evening, Newcastle’s own Dr Chris Fowler gave the keynote on ontologies in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain and Ireland, followed by a wine reception. This was a great start to the conference. The excellent keynote set the tone for the rest of the conference, and the wine reception provided the opportunity for everyone to meet. The occasion also gave the speakers the chance to loosen up and calm down any nerves with a glass of wine (or two!) … While we proceeded to stress about making dinner plans, double-checking that people had places to stay, and cleaning up and clearing everything away before rushing down to meet everyone for dinner. But the world seems much more relaxed after an amazing curry!

But the organisation does not stop there. On Saturday morning (the main day of the conference), Lucy and I met at the department well before 8am, doing more clearing and setting up coffee, biscuits and poster boards… These are wobbly A4 folding screen boards onto which we had to fit A1 posters. Just a little hiccup.

Trying to get your nerves under control throughout the morning is especially tricky if you know that your own, very first, paper is coming up in just a few minutes. While finally getting the chance to tell your audience about henges and long barrows, a little piece of paper telling you that only there are only 5 minutes remaining is vying for your attention. They seemed really off-putting! But, we are told that it happens even to the best.

After that it is finally time to relax… well, at least until lunch time. While everyone else was enjoying the delicious food platters and sandwiches, we were already starting to think about the next session: making sure that all the power point presentations are working, water is ready at the lectern to slake any sudden thirst, and the session leader has some information to use when introducing the speaker.

Finally, after the last session and when all thanks have been given, the first sip of your cold drink in the pub is the best feeling of the whole day. Everyone is happy, the conference is a success, no fatal mishaps, no wine or coffee on the carpets. You managed pass the whole day off like a swan. Time to breathe … and start thinking about the next one!

Northern Bridge Autumn School – October 2015

A number of our AHRC funded PhD students attended the Northern Bridge Autumn School, hosted by Queens University Belfast.

We set off from Newcastle Airport with the weather forecast to rain, rain, rain, with a little more rain scheduled for Belfast for the next few days. We were pleasantly surprised to land in a slightly grey but DRY Belfast. We had time to wander around the city of Belfast, to see some of the street art, the infamous ’Big Fish’, the Ulster Museum and we even squeezed in a visit to Maggie May’s Café, which was as nice as people had reported, and so we pass on the recommendation (see photo below)!

Belfast side streets & artwork (left & top right); Maggie May's milkshake & ice cream sundae after a trip to the Ulster Museum! (bottom right)
Belfast side streets & artwork (left & top right); Maggie May’s milkshake & ice cream sundae after a trip to the Ulster Museum! (bottom right)

The main aim of the Wednesday timetable was to give this year’s newly funded students a chance to talk and get to know each other, and to hear about their research topics; whilst for the 2014/2015 group it was a chance to catch up with each other’s progress and adventures since the Newcastle event in June 2015.

While the new starters were perfecting their ‘elevator pitch’ (ie. Sell yourself to a prospective boss in the time it takes you to climb 7 floors in a lift!), we spent time reflecting on the advantages of being part of the Northern Bridge partnership. We also highlighted areas in which more could have been made as a new starter, and this was the spark for the afternoon session, which we were to run for the new cohort. This ‘Peer Feedback’ session also included a pitching session for possible training events to be run and organised through Northern Bridge by us, the students. The focus of the afternoon was careers and employability; we heard from a Northern Bridge student who had undertaken a placement that had benefitted her research and provided a possible career path post-PhD. It certainly gave us some food for thought!

The day was concluded with a drinks reception in the wonderful Great Hall of Queen’s University followed by a meal at an Italian restaurant (also followed by a visit to the nearby pubs and bars for some!).

The Great Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast.
The Great Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Thursday’s sessions included thematic-based interdisciplinary group networking, followed by a Keynote lecture by Professor Richard Clay (Newcastle University) titled “from coins to Internet in 45 minutes(ish)”. Professor Clay outlined some interesting ideas about the use of marks, graffiti and prints to change perception and re-code public space using examples through history—from early coinage to modern-day street art.

The closing session focussed on ways of disseminating research via the media, discussing ‘being Mary Beard’ – an academic who regularly presents her research interest to the public through documentaries, radio programmes, and her blog, alongside her academic publications. This session also brought up very current issues regarding gender and the representation of academics (women academics, in particular) within the media. It was a short but thought provoking session which raised questions about women in academia and in the media, and how we can move to change these stereotypes. This is obviously an issue which is currently being scrutinised and addressed by academia and the wider public alike.

The autumn conference was a great introduction for the new starters, and provided some food for thought for those of us in stage 2 of our PhD projects – How will we disseminate our work? What road will be taken, an academic or non-academic path? What makes my CV stand out from all the others?

Time to start planning!

-Lucy

PGF Seminar – Wednesday 21st October 1pm

We are delighted to announce our first PGF seminar will be given by Xu Hong from UCD.
Wednesday 21st October in room 2.50 (Armstrong Building, next to the reading room) at 1pm.
Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available as always – please come along and support our first postgraduate guest speaker.

Xu Hong – ‘Did Philip intend to invade Italy? A case study of the application of the Realist theories to the Hellenistic international relations’

The PGF seminar series is a fantastic opportunity for postgraduate students to deliver papers about their current research or research interests. This has been a great success in past years, so this year we will be developing this series in order to offer more flexibility. Therefore, we offer you the opportunity to present either a 20 minute paper or an extended paper of 30-50 minutes. This could be at lunchtime (usually between 1pm and 2pm on Wednesdays) or perhaps, in the evening (with the opportunity for taking questions in the pub!). If you would like to give a presentation, please do get in touch. If have any other ideas regarding the structure of a seminar or seminar sessions which you would like to do, if you know of postgraduate students from another university you would like to invite to give a paper, or if you have any questions or ideas then please do get in touch – we are open to new thoughts and aim to be as flexible as possible!
We look forward to hearing from you.

12th Edition of our E-Journal – Call for Papers!

Call for Papers

12th Edition of the Postgraduate Forum E-Journal

School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University

 Disruptions

The theme of this year’s issue of the PGF E-Journal seeks to reflect on the way in which “disruptions” have shaped historical disciplines and processes.

Studies of history are littered with the disruptions of peoples and places, politics and religion, memory and belief, but the term itself is rarely used. Does the concept of disruption offer any new perspective, and how do we recognise and define these disruptions? Does the term disruption have any genuine utility?  Can we look at disruptions on a macro and micro scale?  How do we deal with disruptions to scholarly narratives when new theories, interpretations, and material are discovered?

We are seeking abstracts for papers of 4000 words. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Historiographical Disruptions
  • Material Disruptions
  • Disruptions of Landscape
  • Political Disruptions
  • Social Disruptions
  • Economic Disruptions
  • Ideological/Philosophical Disruptions
  • Religious Disruptions
  • Medical Disruptions
  • Urban or Rural Disruptions
  • Disruption of Memory
  • Natural or Environmental Disruption
  • Textual Disruptions
  • Narrative Disruptions

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words along with a CV to Amy Shields (amy.shields@ncl.ac.uk) by 28th August. If your paper is selected, the deadline for the final paper will the 2nd October.

NEBARSS 2015 – Call for Papers!

2nd Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium

November 2015

We are holding a postgraduate research student conference here at Newcastle University focusing on the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age archaeology of Britain and Ireland. The conference will be preceded by a keynote speaker (tbc.) and a wine reception, which will provide delegates with a relaxed and friendly environment to discuss their research interests with other PG students and Newcastle staff members, as well as external archaeologists and interested parties.

The conference does not have a theme in order to allow researchers to present aspects of their research projects as they so wish. We are now accepting abstracts for both papers and posters from postgraduate researchers, early careers researchers or independent archaeologists. Click here to download our abstract submission form.

We would also encourage poster abstracts from Masters students who wish to present the results of their dissertations, or new PhD students wanting to present their key research interests and research questions.

If you are interested in attending but not giving a paper or creating a poster we will be opening registration in July , so keep an eye out for further information or email us to be put on our email list.

email: l.b.cummings@ncl.ac.uk or nebarss2015@gmail.com

View our Call for Papers poster for more information.

We hope to hear from you 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

E-Journal: A quick update!

We have now finished uploading the back issues of our Historical Studies Postgraduate E-Journal. You can find them listed under the ‘E-Journal’ tab (hover over the tab to reveal the list. Please Note: this may not work if you are using Internet Explorer), or use the menu on the right hand side of the page.

If you come across any broken, incorrect, or missing links, please let me know! You can do so via email (l.emslie@ncl.ac.uk).  Thank you.

Lauren (IT Officer)

Disruptions!

Updated conference programme. We look forward to seeing you all on Friday!

Disruptions!

12th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference 2015
22nd May 2015
 Research Beehive, Old Library Building

9.00 Tea/Coffee Reception

9.20 Introduction

Panel 1 – Chair: Sam Petty

9.30 Skylar Arbuthnot (Newcastle, PhD) The End of Extramural Settlements in the Hadrian’s Wall Frontier Zone

10.00 Samuel Pearson (Durham, MA) Hereditary Heretics: The Experience of Conversion in Lollard Communities, c​. 1500-1550               

10.30 Victoria Hughes (Newcastle, PhD) “What an evil the Roman world is breeding!” Responses to the Emperor Julian’s Reign

Break

11.15 Keynote Speaker – Harry Dickinson (Edinburgh) British Caricatures and the French Revolution.

Lunch

Panel 2 – Chair: Lauren Emslie

1.00 Stephanie Moat (Newcastle, PhD) Mimetic Practice in Religious Iconography: A Case Study of Roman Britain

1.30 Andrew Marriot (Newcastle, PhD) Disruptive Influences and a Lack of Discipline? World War 1 Trench Art 

2.00 Chris Mowat (Newcastle PhD) Calpurnia and the Disruption of the Roman State

Break

Panel 3 – Chair: Amy Shields

2.45 John Burke (Newcastle, PhD) A Lost City in the Sand: The Memorial Legacy of Conflict through the Greek Cypriot ‘ghost-town’ of Famagusta

3.15 Antony Stewart (Newcastle, PhD) The Disruption of Leonce Joachim, 1934: How the anthropologist’s informant became the subject of an international debate on Haitian psychology, Vodou and mental health             

Break and Poster Session

 Panel 4 – Chair: David Lowther

4.30 Steven Server (Oxford, MSc) Extralaw and Disorder: Disruptions in Political Culture Surrounding State Risk Management, 1964-1976

5.00 Ben Morton (Newcastle, PhD) Disruptions, Scales and the Medieval Village: Questioning the Nucleated-Dispersed Paradigm

5.30 – Conclusion and Thanks

6.00 – Wine Reception – Student Common Room

Disruptions! Conference Programme

We are pleased to announce our programme for the annual PGF conference (22nd May 2015 at Newcastle University).  All Welcome!

‘Disruptions’

12th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference 2015

22nd May 2015

Room 2.22, Research Beehive, Old Library Building

9.00 Tea/Coffee Reception

9.20 Introduction

Panel 1 – Chair: TBC

9.30 Skylar Arbuthnot (Newcastle, PhD) The End of Extramural Settlements in the Hadrian’s Wall Frontier Zone

10.00 Samuel Pearson (Durham, MA) Hereditary Heretics: The Experience of Conversion in Lollard Communities, c​. 1500-1550      

10.30 Victoria Hughes (Newcastle, PhD) “What an evil the Roman world is breeding!” Responses to the Emperor Julian’s Reign

Break

11.15 Keynote Speaker – Harry Dickinson (Edinburgh) British Caricatures and the French Revolution’.

Lunch

Panel 2 – Chair: TBC

1.00 Stephanie Moat (Newcastle, PhD) Mimetic Practice in Religious Iconography: A Case Study of Roman Britain

1.30 Alan McCarthy (University College Cork, PhD) Enduring the Most: The Censorship and Suppression of Cork’s Nationalist and Loyalist Newspapers during the Irish Revolution, 1916-1923

2.00 Chris Mowat (Newcastle PhD) Calpurnia and the Disruption of the Roman State

Break

Panel 3 – Chair: TBC

2.45 John Burke (Newcastle, PhD) A Lost City in the Sand: The Memorial Legacy of Conflict through the Greek Cypriot ‘ghost-town’ of Famagusta

3.15 Antony Stewart (Newcastle, PhD) The Disruption of Leonce Joachim, 1934: How the anthropologist’s informant became the subject of an international debate on Haitian psychology, Vodou and mental health

Break and Poster Session

Panel 4 – Chair: TBC

4.15 Andrew Marriot (Newcastle, PhD) Disruptive Influences and a Lack of Discipline? World War 1 Trench Art 

4.45 Steven Server (Oxford, MSc) Extralaw and Disorder: Disruptions in Political Culture Surrounding State Risk Management, 1964-1976

5.15 Ben Morton (Newcastle, PhD) Disruptions, Scales and the Medieval Village: Questioning the Nucleated-Dispersed Paradigm

5.45 – Conclusion

6.00 – Wine Reception 

“Joan was Quizzical…”

Our first charity fundraising event was a success!  On Wednesday (11th March) we held a Pub Quiz in aid of Comic Relief at the Hancock Pub near campus.  There were raffle prizes up for grabs including chocolates, cinema tickets and a night ‘at the dogs’, which was donated to the cause and for which we are exceptionally grateful!

PGF Comic Quiz 2
Some of the raffle prize winners! Photo Credits: Amy Shields & Sam Petty

Our own Chris Mowat took off his Seminar Co-ordinator hat and become Quizmaster for the night – we should have picked someone who would have created an easier quiz!  Chris came up with a spectacular five rounds with a variety of great questions (including The Beatles song our title came from!) and everyone had great fun.

We had a fantastic turnout and everyone had a great night. 

Our sincere thanks tPGF Comic Quiz 1o
everyone who come along and joined in – we raised £111.50 altogether, which was beyond our expectations.  Thank you! 

A big shout out to our Losing Team, ‘Table 19’, who won the (literal) wooden spoon prize.

And Well Done to our Winners, the ‘The Quiz-tine Chapel’.

 

 

Jack & Michael