Historical Novel Society Conference #HNS2014

The last academic year has flown past. The research has progressed with the translations and transcriptions almost completed. My intention over the next two years is to share my progress on this blog as part of my research process. This should be easier now I am on the analysis stage. Previously any posts about my work would probably have said ‘still transcribing’.

But as part of my research this summer I attended the Historical Novel Society’s 2014 conference held in London at the University of Westminster’s Marylebone Campus. My room was on the nineteenth floor with amazing views over London. It made me wish that I had brought my camera but with plans for the conference and a few days in the British Library I had decided to travel light. So the only picture I have is one taken with the iPad and here it is -

View over London


The conference was extremely interesting and of course very useful. It is first and foremost a conference for historical fiction writers at all levels of their career. Lindsay Davis was one of the authors I was particularly eager to meet and her ‘in conversation’ section of the programme was excellent and all based on a good dose of common sense.

Lindsay’s books were required reading on my undergraduate Medieval History degree at Queen Mary College London to remind students that history deals with the lives of real human beings not an abstract concept of ‘medievals’ as strange or other. The same of course applies to other periods of history.

The conference was filled with workshops on aspects of writing specific to the historical novel and took seriously the problems associated with merging fiction with perceived fact. There were also opportunities to pitch ideas to editors and can immediate feedback. I was led to believe it was a nerve-wracking process for those waiting for their turn in the pitch-sessions.

There were plenty of tea and cakes over which to share ideas and plans for that next book and provided me with a number if contacts for participation in my research. The next conference is in the States with more to interest the reader than London managed. I just wish I could be there but I am looking forward to the next London one in 2016.


Medieval Storytelling: Engaging the Next Generation

I have just returned home to Aberystwyth University from a very enjoyable and informative workshop organised by Oxford University.

The workshop was entitled ‘Medieval Storytelling: Engaging the Next Generation’ and is the first step in what will hopefully develop into a long-running programme of events both for myself and for Oxford and its future collaborators.

It was an AHRC-funded skills development programme aiming to train research postgraduates in the art of storytelling. We were divided into two groups. One group was led by professional storyteller Daniel Morden while the second group was led by Jenny Moon, a storyteller and proponent of the effectiveness of storytelling in Higher Education.

Packed into two days were workshops on performance and adaptation skills with a view to performing medieval stories to schoolchildren as a way of enhancing and supporting the teaching and learning processes within schools and to foster an interest in medieval narratives from an early age.

These two days of workshops are not the end of the project and now each participant must to go back to their home universities and  make contact with primary schools and/or more publicly accessible venues within their locality in order to perform the stories that they will adapt using the skills learnt at Oxford.

The organising of our own events for schools or the wider public will raise their own difficulties and in overcoming these I hope that by the end of the project I will have developed my general communication and organisational skills to a high level so that I can share my their research wider a wider audience outside of the academic community.

So while the workshops at Oxford were both informative and entertaining it is now that the hard work begins and I should announce that I am now available as a storyteller for schools and events.

Photography – crow

It has been a while since I last shared a post and a picture.

I am still busy working making sense of the research I have completed so far for the research monitoring process of my first year of PhD work. At the moment I am having difficulty in articulating just how fundamental I consider the process of translation and interpretation to be to my work and to my approach to research.  I expect in part this is because it is a theory I am still in the process of developing and will not reach an easily expressible form until later in the PhD.

So as can be expected at this stage it is a work in progress.

So for now here is a photograph I took earlier in the year of crow on some castle walls.  I do think these birds are fascinating.



Llamas, vikings, news

I do enjoying living in Wales surrounded by countryside.  The lambs are beginning to fill the fields around the town and snowdrops are blossoming in the front garden, and with the sun shining over the fields even the llamas seem to be enjoying themselves.

The initial stages of my PhD research seem to be going reasonably well.  I have located all my sources and I’m in the process of transcribing and translating them ready for further analysis. I have managed to restrain myself from going to overboard at this stage and I have limited myself to works written in Anglo-Norman and Middle English.

The only times I really miss London is when it comes to buses – we nearly lost our bus route just before Christmas – and when something wonderful happens at one of the London museums.  Which takes me to the breakfast news this morning and to the segment on the Viking exhibition at the British Museum.  It looks like it’s going to be a wonderful exhibit.

As with just about every medieval history undergraduate I too had a great time researching the Vikings, reading the sagas and having heated discussions over the mix of creativity and violence so it’s good to see the Vikings being portrayed ‘in the round’ so to speak and it’s an exhibition I hope to get time to see in the flesh if only for the jewellery and the ship.

If any of you do get to see it before me then let me know what you think of it.

To go with the exhibition the BM is also showing two films at selected cinemas across the UK – one general and one aimed at children.  So at the very least I will get tickets for that.

For more info on the Vikings in the BM click here.

And here is a llama photo to finish with.llama