Research into the Medieval and Early Modern: Navigating Issues of Engagement

Queen Mary, University of London and London Medieval Graduate Network
Saturday, 18 October 2014 from 10:00 to 18:30 (BST)

This colloquium is free of charge. Lunch and refreshments will be served throughout the day, and the colloquium will be rounded off with a drinks reception.

This one-day Colloquium will focus on the how and why of researchers connecting with wider audiences and ‘the public’, via radio, television, popular books and journals, newspapers, exhibitions, blogs, etc. We want to look into the role of public engagement - to what extent will current graduates need to be – or can they be – involved in this and how will they grow into it? Other questions we may ask are: how can early career researchers be selective and know when to seize opportunities, how can they access various types of media, how can these media be used most effectively, how accessible is the academic ‘style’, and how can public engagement help us to develop and progress professionally?

Many emerging academics would like an opportunity to communicate their research to the public via various forms of media, but they are often unsure how to access these types of media and they might not know the best ways to use these forms of media if an opportunity arises. On a more fundamental level, a common concern is how this type of public engagement might affect an academic’s research life. Will turning a PhD into a more commercially viable book actually be detrimental to academic job applications? Will an appearance on a television or radio programme change the way your colleagues and potential future employers could view you and/or your research? How do we know which opportunities to agree to, and which to turn down? These are some of the questions we hope might be partly answered during the course of this colloquium.

During three panels, the various speakers will explain how they became involved with various projects and how this affected their research (both positively and negatively), and there will be ample time for questions afterwards. The first two sessions will feature several academics talking about public engagement through their own experiences and current projects, whilst the third session will feature industry professionals who will share their experiences in working with academics (publisher, radio producer, artist in residence). As well as offering practical advice for students who want to engage with the public about their research via various media, the event will provide a forum for wider discussion of increasingly important questions on how public engagement ‘fits’ with an academic career and the importance we should place on this aspect of academia.

Although the day will be focused on research into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (where do these periods even fit in with ideas of ‘public engagement’?), the event is open to all who are interested in attending. The speakers will share some of their own experiences and will offer practical advice, applicable to any field of study.

Our confirmed speakers include Prof. Miri Rubin (Queen Mary, School of History), Prof. Adrian Armstrong (Queen Mary, School of Languages, Linguistics, and Film), Clare Whistler (Leverhulme Art Fellow for the History of the Emotions, 2013/2014) Mukti Campion (BBC radio producer) and Claudia Bickford-Smith (Cambridge University Press). More speakers tbc.

This event is sponsored by QMUL, together with the London Medieval Graduate Network. The main organisers are: Hetta Howes, Ella Kilgallon, and Lydia Zeldenrust.