On Monday (1 July), I attended my first history staff meeting at the University of Hertfordshire where I’ll officially be taking up my new lecturing position in September. This marks the end of an era for me. Since 2000, I have been firstly a student and then a member of the academic staff at University College Dublin. During my time there I worked as a lecturer and later Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the UCD School of History & Archives. More recently, I’ve been the Irish history lecturer for the study abroad programme at the UCD Quinn School of Business.
A business school might seem like a peculiar place for a historian to work, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Yes, it has sometimes been challenging: I’ve had to teach history to visiting business students. It’s a compulsory course, and many are – understandably – unsettled at the prospect of having to take a module outside their discipline. Happily, many have also admitted to me that, by the end of the semester, they found that they ended up enjoying the module. And I got a lot out of it, too. It forced me to think differently about how I teach history and I feel that I’m a more flexible lecturer, as a result.
I’m really looking forward to teaching at the University of Hertfordshire. The history staff there have created a really dynamic research environment and are strongly student-oriented. They’ve given me such a warm welcome. I’m particularly excited to teach a course called Themes in Twentieth Century People’s History. This course will be a great opportunity for me to draw on my more recent research and to look at ‘history from below’, something I’ve been particularly interested in since reading Leif Jerram’s Streetlife: the Untold Story of Europe’s Twentieth Century. I’ve also been very influenced by the work of my former UCD colleague, Dr Niamh Cullen, who has been doing some fascinating work on growing up in 1950s Italy using diaries and women’s magazines as some of her sources.
While it will be strange to say goodbye to UCD after all this time, I’m also looking forward to moving on and I know I’m going to be really happy in my new position. Roll on September!
All images author’s own, photographed at source,