Hello there! My name is Tom O'Donnell, or @tomod14. You can thank fourteen year old Tom for that handle. I am currently a PhD student based in the Science and Technology Studies department in University College London.
This is a strange fit as I am a medievalist trained in Celtic studies and my PhD thesis is on the emotional impact of fosterage in medieval Ireland. I came to love medieval Irish literature during my late teens, because I was cool like that. I pursued it as an undergraduate, reading Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and doing my Masters in Celtic Studies.
I am most interested in the way fosterage creates incredibly close family ties between people who are not necessarily related. What we think of as family, as those inherently bonded to us, is an important part of how we think of ourselves. I like knowing that this family does not have to be constructed by blood, even in the Middle Ages, when these relationships were even more central to individual identity.
While Irish literature will always be my first love, I do have a bit of a butterfly mentality. My research into the construction of family has lead to an interest in the history of sexuality. I write for Notches (@NotchesBlog), a history of sexuality blog. As part of the STS department I have taught the history of science. On my off days, I am a research assistant at the College of Arms, which allows me to indulge an interest in heraldry and genealogy. This work is also allows me regular access to manuscripts. This is something that cannot be over-emphasised.
Finally, I have recently done some stand up for Bright Club. Medieval history can be ridiculous and I have always found it difficult to be entirely po-faced about my research. This is either a liberating pedagogical avenue or the end of any credibility I may have had.
If you really want to know more have a look at medievaltom.com.