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HRC Postdoctoral Research Fellows 2023-24

Despoina Vasiliki Sampatakou, Archaeology

My doctoral research explored how we, as archaeologists, can effectively communicate our work through DIY projects utilising digital media and storytelling. I explored different media such as text, interactive digital narratives, 360 filmmaking and Virtual Reality, and I designed a methodology to evaluate their impact on the audiences.

I aim to contribute to the HRC community through digital storytelling workshops that I will organise, using Voyager and Twine, two very effective and interesting tools to engage the wider public with academic research. I believe that both the HRC and the University of York community will benefit from introducing them to their public outreach projects.

The HRC Fellowship will allow me to prepare my PhD thesis for publication as a monograph and will give me time to complete an article on cryptocolonialism and decolonising practices in Greece. The Fellowship will also benefit my research, as through the workshops I will organise I will further study the impact of digital storytelling by testing a different tool than the ones I have used for my doctoral research.

Emma Marshall, History

My doctoral research examined familial experiences and representations of illness and healthcare, c.1630-1750. It focused on gentry or ‘upper-class’ families, using correspondence, diaries, recipes and accounts to show how they navigated their relationships and identities in relation to health. By applying certain sociological perspectives of both sickness and family life, I revised our understandings of domestic responses to sickness, arguing that they can be ‘political’ and bound up with notions of obligation, reciprocity, management and power, as much as affection and love.

During the HRC fellowship, I will build on this work in order to turn my thesis into a monograph for publication. The work will also produce peer-reviewed articles on overlooked subjects, such as servants’ connection to healthcare and the role of sickness in inter-generational family memory. My doctoral thesis discusses these issues, but I believe they warrant further scholarly attention. In 2024, I will take up a Short-Term Research Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC; this and other archival trips in England and North America will allow me to develop my thesis conclusions with further primary evidence.

I am looking forward to continuing to work with the HRC, and hope to organise an interdisciplinary symposium on the history of the body and pain and a regular reading group for historians of the family. I have done outreach and engagement work throughout my studies, and am keen to expand connections between the HRC and local museums and young people. One possible way of doing this is to bring my early modern medicine-making activity, devised for the 2023 Family Fun Afternoon as part of the York Festival Ideas, into primary schools or youth groups.

Nina Kümin, School of Arts and Creative Technologies (Music)

Nina Kümin is a researcher, performer and teacher specialising in historical musical improvisation. Following her PhD in music performance, researching how to improvise a baroque fantasia on the violin, her fellowship work will extend this to consider pedagogy, exploring how best to teach historical improvisation in higher education.

Qiyue (Sally) Shangguan, School of Arts and Creative Technologies (TFTI)

My project expands upon the findings in my PhD thesis, which examined contemporary UK film policy in a historical context, including UK-China collaboration. By exploring the British Film Institute's (BFI) new 10-year strategy for the UK screen industry, the development of the Chinese film industry in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the initiatives of China-UK co-productions, this research project will evaluate the impacts of post-pandemic policy shifts on the screen industries in China and the UK, and discuss how the resulting changes will affect collaboration and soft power ambitions in a global context.

Rebecca Drake, English and Related Literature

Becca Drake is a writer, poet, and critical-creative based in York. She/they completed a PhD in medieval English and Icelandic literature at the University of York (2023). Her/their work focuses on east coast histories and literature, maritime environments, and the place of the human in the natural world.

Veronica Smith, History of Art

My doctoral research explored secular stained glass of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in cities and towns in Britain to highlight the importance of stained glass for analysing Victorian culture. Stained glass in a variety of different building types was highlighted, such as in public houses, libraries, Town Halls, galleries and public swimming baths. This major expansion of the stained glass industry in the nineteenth century was unprecedented and I undertook a thematic approach to the material which covered the areas of gender, class and political agendas, as well as technological advances in the production of glass. My work therefore interacts with a wider spectrum of cultural scholarship and focuses on the secular context and intersection between the industrial and the craft in fulfilling this cultural demand.

During the HRC Fellowship, I will be completing work on several publications for Journals developed from my doctoral thesis. I am also excited to further develop the aspect of glass technologies of the nineteenth century and how this produced new approaches to stained glass design and composition which manipulated light through texture. This specifically relates to Victorian and Edwardian culture and the sensory capacities of the decorative arts; exploring glass in relation to the sense of touch as well as sight. This will further my research into the technical and meta-physical aspects of glass and the contribution this made to Victorian and Edwardian society. This research would enhance aspects of my PhD thesis and also bring a wider understanding of glass aesthetics to researchers of nineteenth and early twentieth century visual culture. 

Ed Willems, Philosophy

My PhD thesis argued for metaphysical deflationism, the view that philosophical disputes about the fundamental nature of reality, what sorts of things really exist, and so on, actually hinge on questions of language, rather than being deep questions about the world. As such, ordinary language-users are just as well placed - if not better - to draw conclusions about these disputes as metaphysicians who question commonly held beliefs of this sort.

In the thesis, I explored the metasemantic views of language we would have to hold in order to adopt this deflationary standpoint. I will continue to do this over the course of the fellowship, as I aim to publish a series of papers arguing that deflationism requires a non-representationalist account of language, ie: one where linguistic meaning is explained in terms of the use-properties of expressions, rather than in terms of word-world representational relations. I aim to branch out and expand this view to offer a non-representationalist analysis of gender ascriptions and possibility talk, to bring a deflationary view to these topics.