Proposal

Now that I’m accepted, matriculated, and transplanted, I’m comfortable with publicly posting the details of my doctoral project. Needless to say, this has been a long time in coming, and the initial response leading up to this proposal was met with much interest and enthusiasm from a variety of sources whom I greatly respect. I sincerely hope to live up to that excitement with hard work and limitless academic endurance and, at times, the need for the tolerance and patience a project like this will incur.

What follows is my finished research proposal to the University of St Andrews for placement in the Institute for Scottish Historical Research within their greatly-respected School of History. The original document has been uploaded here for easier reading.

During the research for my MSc dissertation in 2004, I had the opportunity to closely examine and quantify many sources containing thousands of names linked to Scottish Jacobitism in the 18th century. In appraising the causes of both loyalty and resistance to the movement, I was struck by the disparateness of data within both the primary and secondary sources with which I worked. Many scholars had been able to list out names and abstracts of hundreds of these suspected or convicted Jacobites, both in Charles Edward Stuart’s army and also on the Scottish home front. This was largely in thanks to the great corpus of publishing on the subject that surfaced in the late 19th century and again in the 1920s and 1930s, when post-Victorian fascination with the romanticism of the Jacobite movement reached a zenith on both sides of the Scottish/English border. But even within the plethora of texts, transportation lists, and muster rolls that form the backbone of what we currently know about the constituency of 18th-century Jacobitism, there are inconsistencies, gaps, and deletions, thus admitted by many of the very scholars who collated this data. As well, there is little accessibility to details about the people connected to Jacobitism other than the names which are listed out, removed from the context of the movement itself.

In the conclusion of my dissertation, I identified the need for an authoritative source of Jacobite constituency from which modern scholars might draw accurate and up-to-date information for their own studies of Jacobitism. Such a repository would be invaluable to the academic community. A detailed, living Jacobite database would provide the most accessible platform for this project, akin to the St. Andrews- hosted SSNE Database, but in a more technically modern and flexible format that could support a wider breadth of editable data. The creation and maintenance of this database would be the centrepiece of my doctoral research, yielding a large number of cultural, social, religious, and military topics for detailed and discrete chapters within my PhD thesis. Because the scope of the ‘Jacobite century’ is so large, the database would focus on the period 1745-6 – the years of the final Jacobite conflict – but there would be room to connect it with a wider context as more data enters the field.

During the creation of the database, I hope to harness a number of technical assets in order to build, maintain, and promote its functions, including remote project management and research, digitisation of and linking to primary source documents, and concurrent documentation of Jacobite personalities on a dedicated webpage within the database’s online domain. The experience of established scholars at St. Andrews would provide an exemplary precedent for my work. The authors of the SSNE database are both St. Andrews-based academics and Professor Steve Murdoch would serve as my main PhD supervisor for this project, being an authority in the field of web-rendering of biographical information as well as a recognised scholar on aspects of the Jacobite diaspora. The resources available at St. Andrews will furnish me with an excellent research environment, as being a part of both the Scotland and the Wider World project and also the Institute of Scottish Historical Research will connect my research to a wide range of like-minded scholars and study.

The establishment of this Jacobite database will be a unifying agency within the discipline. Its living format will allow it to be expanded after the initial scope and context is described, beyond the uses found for it in serving as the basis for my PhD thesis. Following the progression of technology and its increasing use in historical study and digital documentation, I believe that this will be a powerful contribution to my chosen field of scholarship, as well to that of Jacobite scholarship in its entirety. 

© 2011 Darren Scott Layne

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3 Responses to “Proposal”

  1. Tod Booth Says:
    September 21st, 2011 at 1:33 am

    This looks really interesting. I hope it goes well, if I can help in any way let me know.
    Tod (a friend of Phil Cawley)

  2. Ned Says:
    September 28th, 2011 at 11:18 am

    DATA! I approve. :)

  3. @angledge Says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 6:56 am

    You're going to build a database?! That's what I did for my MSc! Have fun, buddy!

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