By Ellen Crabtree (Newcastle) and Lori Lee Oates (Exeter)
Welcome to the French History Network blog! This is just a note to introduce ourselves as the two postgraduate representatives on the Society for the Study of French History (SSFH) committee. The Society is keen to support the work of postgraduates who work on French History; in addition to funding events for postgraduates, the SSFH also offers a range of bursaries and awards to help with research trips, conferences and writing up. We’d love to hear from fellow postgraduates so please feel free to contact us to make sure your issues are being heard at the committee level.
We both started as PG representatives in the summer of 2013. Since then, we’ve had a busy time, organising a successful PG study day in Newcastle, attending committee meetings and giving papers at the SSFH annual conference in Durham. Our most important activity is organising the annual Postgraduate Study Day in conjunction with the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (ASMCF, http://www.asmcf.org/).
2014 study day
After previous joint study days in Sheffield and Warwick, in March 2014 over forty PGs and scholars met in Newcastle to share experiences, tips and postgraduate research. The theme was ‘commemoration’, chosen for its contemporary pertinence. After a thought-provoking key note from Dr Matt Perry, reader in Labour History at Newcastle, twelve PGs from across the UK gave papers on their research linked to theme. Papers covered a range of French history themes and methodologies as well as interventions from literature, politics and philosophy. A full list of abstracts from the conference can be found here: http://frenchpgstudyday2014.wordpress.com/programme/abstracts/ The study day offers a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for PGs to present, often for the first time outside of their home university. It can be a valuable way of getting feedback on ideas and research before presenting at larger or international conferences.
The day is also invaluable for meeting other like-minded PhD students, who share an interest in French research – both history and other fields. Unlike most society conferences, the day has sessions dedicated to professional development. At Newcastle there were sessions on the importance of PG teaching (David Lees, Warwick), how to get journal articles published (Dr Julian Wright, co-editor of French History) and advice for finding a job after the PhD (Dr Imogen Long, Hull). We also held a roundtable on different research methodologies: from archives to participatory research and interviews for social science. Previous days have incorporated guides to specific archives as well, many of which are now hosted on the SSFH website: https://frenchhistorysociety.co.uk/french_archives.htm. Incidentally, if you’ve worked in an archive not listed here and would like to draft a short guide to help other researchers then please let us know.
Plans for next year
We’re pleased to announce that the 2015 study day will be hosted by the University of Exeter on Saturday 7 March 2015 – please make a note of this date in your diary and keep an eye out for the call for papers which will be issued soon. The study day’s theme will be The Global and the Local, which we feel fits a wide range of work in both history and French cultural studies. Postgraduates at any level (MA – PhD) are welcome to submit an abstract for papers. PGs who present at the day will be able to access funding to help cover transport costs, within reasonable limits. The day is an excellent opportunity to promote your work to other students and offers a friendly environment to present in, especially if you have never presented at a conference before. In terms of professional development, we are planning sessions on publishing including journal articles and how to convert your thesis into a monograph, along with postdoctoral funding, using social media to promote your research and pursuing jobs in the global academic marketplace.
Stay in touch with the SSFH
The other important aspect of our role is to represent the views of postgraduates at committee meetings. We can honestly say that the committee takes great interest in hearing postgraduates’ views so please do keep us informed if you have any comments, thoughts or issues – our contact details can be found below. The SSFH has an extremely generous array of research travel grants, conference bursaries and prizes for French History postgraduates. If you’re looking for financial support to attend a conference, go on an archival trip or even support writing up in your fourth year, these are well worth having a look at: https://frenchhistorysociety.co.uk/grants.htm. These grants make up a considerable amount of the SSFH’s expenditure, so it is worth bringing them to your attention!
If you’re a postgraduate who works on French history and have any thoughts, suggestions or matters to be taken to the SSFH then please get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Also follow SSFH on Twitter @FrenchHistoryUK or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frenchhistory