I am currently a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow (a three-year fixed-term post) at the John Rylands Research Institute in the University of Manchester. My research is focused on social identities in late medieval Germany, particularly the development of binary ‘town’ and ‘noble’ identities in the fifteenth century.
Employment in Higher Education
As a PhD student at Durham University and following my graduation I worked on a casual basis as a graduate teaching assistant (2011–16), exam invigilator (2016–17) and alumni fundraiser (2016). In 2017–18 I held a one-year teaching fellowship at the University of Tübingen (Germany), and in 2019 I was a Humboldt Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at Tübingen for 6 months. In August 2019 I started my present post at Manchester.
I have also held various fellowships and bursaries which were my main means of support at the time. My PhD was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and by a Scouloudi Fellowship from the Institute of Historical Research.
Education and Qualifications
I grew up in Witney, Oxfordshire, and attended my local comprehensive school. I have taken the following degrees: BA Modern History and Modern Foreign Languages (University of Oxford, 2008); MA Medieval and Renaissance History (University College London, 2010); PhD History (Durham University, 2016). I am also an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My PhD thesis was awarded the 2016 dissertation prize of the German Historical Institute London.
Trade Union Activity
I joined the University and Colleges Union (UCU) for the first time when I began my current job in Manchester. Like many PhD students, I was not aware that UCU membership was open to me during the PhD, but watching the unfolding events of the 2018 USS dispute from Germany inspired me to get involved once I returned to the UK. The 2019–20 ‘Four Fights’ dispute helped to shape my approach to precarity, as did discussions with fellow members of the Manchester Anti-Precarity Network, which grew out of that dispute and became even more active during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have subsequently joined my branch’s executive committee as a co-opted member, and I am a founding member of the activist network UCU Commons.
Because my position is part-funded by a private charity and my research involves work in archives which are currently inaccessible, I have been placed on furlough leave for parts of 2020/21. Awareness of my good fortune in this respect relative to other early career academics has been an important factor in my current activist activity.
I have organized several conferences my discipline, and in 2013 I established a postgraduate-led community evening course which has become an annual event at Durham. I am also particularly interested in improving data management training for early career researchers, and in better mental health support for early career academics. In 2009 I taught English as a foreign language to pupils aged mostly between 5 and 11 in Xi’an, China.