Why did you decide to study History at Queen’s?:
I drifted into Prof Paul Christianson's office in the fall of 1999 and pitched a PhD topic to him. He agreed, provided I wrapped it up before he was due to retire in 2003.
Provide us with a brief history of your time studying history:
My time in the PhD programme was literally life-changing. From taking stimulating courses with innovative teachers, to the supportive community of fellow students, to the cheerful and efficient help of Deb, Cathy and Cindy in the departmental office - it remains one of the most generative places where I have worked. The Department opened my mind to new historical perspectives, and also supported me with funding for vital travel to UK archives and supported a successful application for a SSHRCC Doctoral Fellowship.
What came next? How did your training in History prepare you for your future?:
I defended in June 2003, completed a year of sessional teaching - bridging to Jeff Collins' arrival from Chicago - and then moved to the University of Cambridge for two years supported by a SSHRCC Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Published the book of the thesis in 2005, got shredded on the job market, and was offered a critical lifeline of another sessional gig in 2006-07 by Richard Greenfield. During that year I learned how to write a good cover letter, and landed interviews, finally deciding on the University of Hull, where I am still.
Share a few of your fondest memories from your time at Queen’s:
The wildly fluctuating temperature and humidity in Watson Hall; Jane Errington's class in colonial America, which served as the foundation of what I am doing now; the Monday night class in Jackie Duffin's office where we talked about approaches and methodology.
Do you have any advice you would like to share with current History students?:
Remember that a degree in History gives you a range of assets and skills that are relevant to an economic context that sometime seeks to devalue humanities degrees. Think: digital, global, big and relevant themes.