Academic Overviews.

I had been wanting for some time to blab a little bit about the current term’s projected research at University, mostly for my friends and family back home…and to let them know that I’m actually doing something here in between drinking binges, bike rides, and forays into the Highlands. No, really. Unless this, too is a clever fabrication intended to deceive and manipulate. But how could I possibly make this up? YOU be the judge…

Please forgive the droning and wordiness ahead.

Two big projects are being chipped away at in the early months of 2004.

The first is actually my second essay for this Master’s degree, simply one tangential paper to buttress my final dissertation that shall be written over the summer here in Edinburgh. I have come to the university with a constant idea for a research project in mind, that being a close look at behaviour and methods of impressment (forcing, pressing) by the Jacobite army of the 1745 Rebellion, and the irony of such draconian tactics in a conflict ostensibly supporting freedom from foreign determination (i.e. the Hanoverian regime). Immediately upon arriving here and seeing the abundance of resources that this city provides, it was clear that the project could certainly be turned into a PhD, including three more years of research to examine all areas of evidence. To fit it all into a single year must take into consideration a certain cutting of corners, and perhaps produce a open-ended thesis that will one day soon be taken farther along this train of research. With any luck, by me. 🙂

My first essay in support of this final dissertation (to be handed in at the end of fall 2004) was a critical assessment of Jacobite historiography–that is, a survey, comparison, and collation of all secondary-source literature already produced on the Forty-Five, from the time of the failure at Culloden to the modern day, now just moving past its 250-year anniversary. This was indeed a massive project, but I managed to somehow suck in an abundance of published material and spit in out into a brief, four-period timeline with supporting commentary. These periods are indicative of the changing nature of interest and hindsighted support of the conflict in Scotland, and of the changing nature of Scottish Jacobitism itself–its connections with nationalism, romanticism, and its innate legitimacy as an effective socio-military movement.

The second essay, also to support my final dissertation, has just been decided. Since I spent the first term tackling secondary literature, the next couple of months will be spent taking a closer look at the conflict using decidedly primary sources–journals, diaries, proclamations, eye-witness accounts, and Sheriff Court and Justiciary Court records. While there is no way to look at *everything* available at the National Library and National Archives, I have certainly been swimming within an inundation of material, and with no end in sight. What I hope to accomplish with this time is not only to find supporting evidence of impressment and coercion amidst Jacobite recruitment, but to produce a brief but detailed examination of the general behavior and “self-image” of the occupying army throughout Scotland and England. In effect, this second essay will look at the changing nature of the soldiers’ dispositions while in populated, urban areas, and how they were desired to act by Charles Edward Stuart versus their actual behavior, as witnessed by local citizenry and Jacobite officers and soldiers. As it should be noted, there were two phenomena worth qualifying: one, that the strict discipline intended by the Bonnie Prince was to go some distance toward propagandizing the rebel army as more than a commonly-perceived band of “rabble and horse-thieves.” This structure and ensuing behavior certainly broke down as the army made its retreat from Derby in December 1745, and during the winter and early spring campaigns back in Scotland, however. Second, even in traditionally-considered hotbeds of Jacobite support (Aberdeen, etc.), the majority of common citizens seemed to regard the occupying rebels as truculent and somewhat less than human, but hindsight and playing both sides of the field to escape Government-incited punishment was certainly a strong consideration to these lengths.

Finally, I shall blather on for a moment about my second large undertaking this winter and spring. Born from beer-soaked ruminations on building some sort of postgraduate community that bursts the confines of individual Scottish universities, I organized a small group of student administrators for an academic fellowship called STASIS: postgraduate Students for the Advocacy of Scottish Interdisciplinary Study. Our aim is to gather together Master’s and Doctoral students in a monthly or twice-monthly seminar series, where we may organize and present papers in a comfortable and informal setting to raise our familiarity with public-speaking and tangential research foci. In addition, the cross-disciplinary breadth of topics and membership from universities all over Scotland ensures that for the first time, some sort of country-wide academic community is formed. This is an obvious boon when meeting like-minded students from other Scottish cities who share similar interests and academic pursuits. Plus, it gives us yet one more excuse to retire to the pub afterwards to fritter away the stresses of the Ivory-Towered Maze.

Our first meeting is scheduled for 21 February here at the University of Edinburgh, and so far we have received positive support form faculty and students alike in the environs of Glasgow, Paisley, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen. Two abstracts for papers have been submitted thusfar, on interesting topics spanning different areas of Scottish studies. As well, I will also be one of the inaugural presenters, offering a brief paper entitled:

Just Six Miles More to Glory – Murray’s Night March and its Effects on the Battle of Culloden

Of course, I’m just humoring myself here…it’s a chance for me to do a bit of side research on a more tangible, military topic that is often overlooked in its relevance. The gist of the paper is that the depletion and desertion from Lord George Murray’s failed sneak attack on the Duke of Cumberland’s camp at Nairn and Auldearn on the night preceding Culloden had a direct effect on the availability of ready Jacobite numbers as the final decisive battle of the Rebellion unfolded. We’ll see what I can make of this, but really it’s just a fun and interesting tangent unstressed by current historians of the period.

And there you have it. Now you can’t say I’m not doing anything…but really, it’s much easier than digging ditches and picking up garbage. I’m thankful for the opportunity, and Edinburgh is being extremely good to me. Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.

15 Responses to “Academic Overviews.”

  1. shawree Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 6:15 am

    I have indeed gotten this far and have to say I'm intrigued.
    To start with, I wish a thesis in Germany included essays in preparation of the main work. I would have had a lot more confidence in what I was doing if I'd had the time to go through my sources in such a thorough manner – as it was, I had to go straight to writing the actual thesis from reading my material. 🙁 Ah well, who knows, maybe I'll get the chance to take it back up where I left off some time in the future. Currently looking into postgradutate options…
    Also, it'd be great if you could post more about STASIS here. Is there any particular fields and periods you intend to cover, or are you generally interested in anything related to Scotland? Is it purely for members of Scottish universities?
    And last but not least: funny icon. I've now got this cartoon piper parading up and down in front of my mind's eye. 😉

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 6:29 am

    You're a dear for finding such interest in the above ramblings.
    I completely agree with you regarding your previous thesis thrust. My own degree programme entails a unique set of requirements created by my supervisor. I am truly sorry that you didn't get a more comfortable course your first time around, but here's hoping that if you do indeed opt for continued postgraduate work, a more lively and accommodating plan is made available…
    If you care to mail me your own e-mail address (see my Info page for mine), I would be more than happy to send you the STASIS proposal and overview that we sent off to faculty and students all over the country. Most of your questions should be answered by this, but of course I will be happy to cover anything left out by the Overview. While intended to primarily accommodate postgrads at Scottish universities, some exceptions would be made as long as the presentations fall within the breadth of furthering Scottish Studies.
    I'm so pleased that you love the icon. I dug it up from some old clip-art I had mouldering away in the bowels of my hard drive. When I close my eyes, as well, he's there a-blaring. 🙂

  3. dr_beep Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 9:52 am

    I only love you for your brains.

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 10:44 am

    Though I thank you dearly for your compliment, I know it's partly because of my ass, too.

  5. ubernacht Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 10:26 am

    Check out the Big Brain on Darren!

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 11:13 am

    Re: Whoa…
    You'd have one, too, if you wouldn't leave dumb-ass postings in my journal.
    🙂 Hehe.
    Love your picture/icon, by the bye.

  7. rivermonkey Says:
    January 26th, 2004 at 1:09 pm

    Heya Darren
    Hey there, its Tarn…Alex got me into this live journal thing…just saying hi. Glad to hear Scotland is treating you well.

  8. FunkyPlaid Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 7:00 am

    Re: Heya Darren
    Heya, T. How's it going with you?

  9. rivermonkey Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 12:10 pm

    Re: Heya Darren
    Very well thanks! I'm heading off to Missouri in a few weeks for Combat Engineer training and then Germany for 2 years =)

  10. fragiletender Says:
    January 28th, 2004 at 4:25 pm

    This sounds like heaps of fun to me – well, OK, not the actual essay writing but definitely the research. In a couple of weeks time I plan to be knee deep in three hundred year old church records for one of the art projects that I am doing. Ah, fun with primary sources!

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 7:02 am

    Why do three-hundred-year old church records slightly turn me on?
    I wish you all the luck–and fun–with your research.

  12. fragiletender Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 5:35 pm

    "Why do three-hundred-year old church records slightly turn me on?"
    Probably cause you're smart. There's really nothing quite like the mental hard-on you can get from really neat research, is there…
    I expect I'll be posting rabid yet slightly dusty updates once I get stuck into the records. I look forward to hearing lots of gems from your research too. How do you manage with the old writing? I'm not a trained researcher and I find it really hard to read.

  13. purpleleopard Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 5:43 am

    You have once again reminded me how I have picked the wrong thing to get my MSc in…
    But in other news, I do believe I have moved into a flat right around the corner from you – its on Lochrin Place. I think I saw you walking around there yesterday, but I have this fear of shouting hello to someone who isnt who i think they are… it probably means I miss out on meeting interesting people. Anyway, I thought I would say hi!

  14. FunkyPlaid Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 7:04 am

    Welcome to Tollcross, neighbour!
    Just give a shout (or throw a rock)…I'm pretty hard to miss!

  15. purpleleopard Says:
    January 29th, 2004 at 8:51 am

    Will do 🙂

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