I’m Mel, usually found tweeting @MedievalMJJ – my 80% professional, 20% personal twitter account where academia and public engagement merges with administration, accountability goals, feminism, equality, social issues and mental health. I also curate @PotBConf, the official twitter account for the biannual Power of the Bishop in Medieval Europe conference and fledgling research network, and @VoicesofLaw, the official twitter account for The Leverhulme Trust funded research network for medieval legal historians.
I graduated in July 2015 with a PhD from Cardiff University, and my thesis was a case study of the Cantilupes and Corbets in the Welsh March c.1199-c.1300. I am still at Cardiff, constructing a portfolio career with a permanent part-time administration role in Campus Facilities (receptionist and supervisor at the University gym), Network Facilitator for Voices of Law: Text, Language and Practice, (fixed term, part-time) and pro rata history tutor in the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education. I have a few projects on the side, too, and am currently writing my monograph and editing several articles for publication.
I am still involved with the Postgraduate Coordinator team who lead our flagship widening access project, SHARE With Schools (@SharewithSchool – www.sharewithschools.wordpress.com) and designed several workshops for the project to take into schools to deliver to Year 7s, Year 9s, and Year 12s. The project goes into the same schools every year delivering workshops to the same year groups, so that we see every year three times at least over the course of their school careers, breaking down barriers between Community First pupils and Higher Education.
I’m pretty passionate about this sort of work, and using my contacts and experience from this project, I am currently the Project Lead for the Welsh Baccalaureate History Resources project. We are in beta-mode at the moment, and moving into the pilot phase in April. Funded by Research Councils UK, I employed a project worker (Hannah Buckingham who tweets @ArchaeoHan, current PhD at Cardiff) and we created a bilingual website, www.welshbacchistory.com, to help students formulate their own research question, analyse source material, conduct interviews and find material for their history projects.
I’m in the process of developing a funding bid for a history/heritage app, turning Gerald of Wales’s Journey Through Wales (1188) into a game where players travel from place to place, collecting items and information that will help him complete his journey. We – myself and Kostas Trimmis @BalkanCaveman – are looking at turning the text into the game script, engaging local communities with their heritage and co-producing the gameplay elements with them, highlighting their heritage through workshops at local museums and libraries. We have a community partner, Grassroots Community Youth Work Project @GrassrootsCF10, developing the soundtrack for the game app by making modern covers (including hip hop versions) of medieval ballads with their youth groups. We are working hard to get funding – though there’s always Kickstarter, I guess!
In terms of my research, I work on the Welsh March and the Anglo-Welsh frontier in the High Middle Ages, looking at a variety of under-researched aspects of Marcher life such as inter-Marcher warfare, as well as case studies of individual communities and lordships. I’m the Medieval Researcher on the AHRC-funded CAER Heritage Project (www.caerheritageproject.com – tweets @CAERHeritage) researching the Medieval history of the West Cardiff communities, Caerau and Ely, with one article due to be published in April 2016 in Morgannwg: Journal of Glamorgan History. I have several other articles in various stages of editing, publication and looking for homes, my monograph to edit, and book chapter contributions to complete, as well as the Power of the Bishop conference 2017 (Bishops as Diplomats) to plan! See www.powerofthebishop.blogspot.com for more details!
This week, I will be thinking about portfolio careers, and how people cope with their heads being in multiple places (or under multiple hats). I’m interested in how one role can inform another, how teaching can influence research, or admin experience influence pedagogical approaches, or if that’s even possible, for example. Discuss.
I’ll also be pondering Twitter and other social media platforms as accountability tools, which is one of the ways I tend to use Twitter! If you do follow me, be prepared for strings of tweets on my To Do Lists and progress… You have been unapologetically warned.
Inevitably, I’ll also be asking about resting and coping strategies [it being Easter/Spring break and all], enhancing secondary (and primary) school curricula, gamification of heritage and history, and wherever else my whimsical mind takes me and the WeTheHums followers want to go!