Hello, my name is Anna, I’m in the final stages of finishing up a PhD (no loud noises or sudden movements please) at the University of Sheffield where I am in the department of history. I’m interested in criminal history, urban history, particularly comparisons of Paris and London, and the possibilities opened up for humanities research by new technologies and media.
I’m originally from Bristol (the happiest city in Britain) and did my undergraduate degree in French and History at the University of Exeter with an Erasmus year at the University of Rouen, Normandy. After a brief (and wonderful) foray into the history of science, medicine and technology, which earned me an MSc at the University of Oxford, I began my PhD at the University of Sheffield in September 2012. I am an AHRC studentship holder and an Entente Cordiale Scholar, through which I spent a marvellous, croissant-filled three month fellowship at the Université Paris Sorbonne IV in Autumn 2013.
My PhD is entitled ‘Perceptions of the murderess in eighteenth-century London and Paris’ which is the sort of research topic that makes people edge away from you at parties. I’m interested in what writings about women accused of murder in London and Paris in this period can tell us about understandings of threat and prejudice in the city, partially in terms of gender but also (and I think probably more importantly) in terms of occupations, spatial movements, class differences and migration patterns. The idea is that female killers were such an unusual phenomenon in both cities (about 1/10 of male killers) that commentators weren’t able to assimilate such figures into wider criminological beliefs and had to search within their own societies and everyday lives into order to rationalise the crimes of these women. So, by comparing writings about such women in London and Paris, we can learn more about the intricacies of two societies which had much in common, but also had some major differences.
I am passionate about comparative history and international collaboration and am president of the Franco-British Network for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Research. I’m also the Digital Media Assistant for ‘History Matters’, the University of Sheffield History Department’s award-winning blog. I use a great deal of online material for my research, not least the wonderful Old Bailey Proceedings Online and am amazed daily at the great research tips and help that you can find on Twitter. I am a firm believer that online resources should belong to everyone, and, in this quest, I run ‘Beyond the Bailey’ a creative writing programme that encourages young writers to engage with, and use, online archives as a source of inspiration. The project is in its third year, and we just had a very successful workshop evening with Young Writers Rotherham. I also recently ran the twitter campaign #newfollowerhistoricalmurder to spread awareness of the Old Bailey Online- and boost my following!
I’m really looking forward to curating @Wethehumanities for the week. I’ll be tweeting about my major interest: free online digital resources and their use in the humanities. I’m keen to learn as much as possible about what kinds of free digital resources are out there and how people use them. We’ll be talking about all the different forms that such resources take and debating their benefits and limitations.
See you soon! You can also follow my personal twitter @acjenkin .