I’m Stephen and I am delighted to be hosting @WetheHumanities from the week commencing 28 March, 2016. I was awarded my PhD from the University of Huddersfield in 2015. My thesis was influenced by my time as a trombonist in a brass band when I was a teenager. It examined how, in the popular imagination, and - almost without question - the British brass band became a cliché of northern working-class identity. This is surprising when we consider the brass band movement was a national phenomenon. I concluded that this stereotype was ‘invented’, c, 1840-1914, through an amalgam of the bands’ internal traditions and the external reporting of brass band contests, which were arenas where middle-class commentators could comment on working-class leisure in a pseudo-anthropological way. In other words the British brass band, particularly bands from the Southern Pennines, became a metonym for working-class identity in the industrial north of England that is still exploited in television, journalism and film.
The significant point about my research was that it was interdisciplinary, bringing together the disciplines of social history and musicology. The study of the social networks that grow from musical groups has become a significant area for research for social historians, musicologists and others from the1990s onwards. Together with others I believe that the social networks of musical groups provide an important resource to understand how people lived their lives in terms of class, culture, gender, region and community.
I have published three articles and a jointly edited volume that embrace the notions of class, culture, gender, region and community and I hope that my week of hosting @WetheHumanities will encourage interdisciplinary debate. My ongoing research examines diverse subjects from punk rock in East Lancashire’s Rossendale Valley, jazz and gender in a 1930’s Staffordshire town and the nineteenth-century northern choral tradition.
I am currently reaching the end of an enjoyable time leading an adult-education course at Huddersfield University that examined the themes raised in my PhD. I am hoping to develop further adult-education courses based around my research. I have taught a wide range of adults - from a module on 1970’s Britain to being a brass teacher in a number of Yorkshire music centres - and I have found that teaching adults can be very rewarding. I am also in the process of applying for post-doctoral funding.
I can be followed on Twitter @DrGtrombone and I hope that you enjoy my curatorship of @WetheHumanities.