This blog began as a place to organise my thoughts in advance of writing a PhD research proposal. and as such is full of half-formed theories, photos and maps, lots of maps. Having now begun my PhD, it’s still for half-baked theories and diatribes, but also some of my research (although categorically not anything formal or fully thought-through!), plenty of Black Country History, and probably lots and lots of pictures of canals, which is my best and favourite thing.
Although I’ve ended up doing a PhD in History, I’m not really a historian by background. After being convinced that a life in university administration is perhaps not the most fulfilling thing one can do, I took an MA in urban geography at King’s College, London in 2009/10. I came out of that with the realisation that not only does history not mean much without geography, but that geography – particularly human geography – doesn’t mean a lot without history. Every place is a product of its past, and apparently I find it all fascinating, so much so that I’m undertaking a PhD at the University of Birmingham with a working title of “The Stafford Street area of Wolverhampton c. 1800-1871: space, demography and ethnicity.” So: if you have any interest at all in: the history of the Black Country; Wolverhampton; working-class housing; slums; nineteenth-century social history; space, place and landscape history; immigration history, particularly Irish to England; or anything else really, do get in touch.
I’ve written quite a bit on here by now, but there’s a couple of useful starting points:
- Series on so-called “slums” of the Victorian Black Country summed up here
- Irish immigration history and its modern context, and a series on Irish migration to the Black Country
- Maps and how they mess with your head
- Henri Lefebvre and ‘social space’. [Lefebvre’s ideas as laid out in The Production Of Space (1974) form the theoretical backbone to my research]
- My posts on the BAVS research blog: Wolverhampton and the urban text; and Maps, Modernity & False Economies