8th September – 15th September 2014 Maggie Scull

On Monday @wethehumanities travels from Scotland to England for an American researcher who’s working on Northern Ireland.  She’ll be giving as an insight into the Northern Irish Troubles and her work with Four Nations History; the latter feels particularly pertinent the week before our Scotland-based followers will be going to the polls to vote on the independence referendum.  Although the Troubles are part of my personal history (dad was born in NI and mum tells stories of pushing my pushchair down the middle of the street for fear of bombings when we lived in London in the early 80s) I know very little about it; Maggie’s research methods sound fascinating and I for one am looking forward to hearing about her findings.

Hello everyone! I’m Maggie Scull, but you may know me by not so original twitter handle, @MaggieMScull.  You’ll also sometimes find me @4nationshistory but I’ll elaborate more on that later. I’m just beginning the second year of my PhD in History at King’s College London.

Before moving to London, I completed my BA in European History from Boston University with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  I then relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana to work as a secondary special needs teacher before moving to London to begin my MA in Modern History at King’s.  My experience teaching secondary has shaped me in a variety of ways, which I’ll talk about this week as well.  I’m about to head into my first semester as a graduate teaching assistant so if anyone has advice, feel free to send it my way!

The current working title of my PhD thesis is “The Catholic Church and the Northern Irish Troubles, 1969-1998”.  I look at the Church as an institution: how did it change throughout the Troubles?  Why has little academic research been done on the Church itself but largely focuses on religion? I also work with both private and public archives as well as conducting interviews with priests and former members of paramilitary organisations. My oral history and archive sources can sometimes conflict, which I hope to discuss this week as well.

My subject is very emotionally charged, another topic I hope to cover. How do we delicately handle a very sensitive subject, especially when we’re coming from an “outsider” position?

In addition to my research for my thesis, I have also been developing a Four Nations History Network with Naomi Lloyd Jones (@beingahistorian) also based at King’s.  Our conference, “United Kingdom? Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History” will take place on 20 February 2015. You can find more information on our blog here: https://fournationshistory.wordpress.com/

I hope to talk more about our inspiration for the conference, successes/challenges in planning the event and four nations approaches to British History in general.

I’m also American and I want to discuss the differences in European vs. American academia, as well as immigration issues, living costs, the NHS, higher tuition fees, etc.  I’m starting to get the hang of this transition, so I’d like to offer my advice to any prospective crossovers but also hope others can guide me as well!

To conclude, in my spare time I love to travel, go to the theatre and cook.  I read about 10 food blogs daily so if you ever want recipes, feel free to ask! Cooking is a major passion of mine and allows me to totally forget about any stresses in my day. It’d be great to talk about more hobbies outside of academia, as I feel like many people (myself included) only discuss our PhD research outside of work.  I’m really looking forward to meeting you all!

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