Theses and Works in Progress

Our current and recent research page gives summaries of both ongoing postgraduate work on aspects of Scottish history and recently completed postgraduate projects. If you wish to offer an abstract for inclusion on this page, this can be emailed to:

Katherine Eleutheria Basanti, University of Aberdeen
The Politics and Ramifications of Crusade Rhetoric in Late Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Statecraft: 1437-1542

This study investigates the politics of crusade rhetoric (bellum iustum et sanctum rhetorica) in late medieval and early modern Scottish statecraft, following the assassination of James I (1394-1437) on 21 February 1437 until the end of the reign of James V (1512-1542) on 14 December 1542. The findings of this research explore the didactic function and sociopolitical ramifications of holy war rhetoric, whether advocating or contesting the crusades, in three key aspects of Scottish statecraft; first, military conduct and martial ethos; second, governance and civic practice; third, diplomatic tactics in relation to ecclesiastical politics. Via the comparative study of parliamentary records, state documents, diplomatic correspondence, and chronicle sources, the conceptualization of authority and intricacy of crown-magnate relations are scrutinized. Crusade rhetoric, in this respect, appears to have facilitated the purpose of instructive interpretations and warnings against the alleged unscrupulous avarice of magnates seen by certain scholars and political thinkers as a potential threat to Church and crown. The purpose of this study is to provide a first full-scale analysis of the triptych of power, politics and piety within the context of a crusade ideological as well as critical framework during fifteenth and sixteenth century Scottish state-of-affairs.

Daliah Primrose Bond, University of Aberdeen
Scottish Chapbooks and Popular Culture 1650-1800

This thesis concerns the significance of Scottish chapbooks in relation to popular culture 1650-1800.  This question is explored by using a database of Scottish chapbooks held in major UK libraries and reassessing their place as a piece of vulgar ballad literature for the uneducated lower classes but looking at the possibility that they were also read by and marketed to the elites.  By looking at the issue of illustration, content and production values we can explore the notion of ‘cheap’ vs ‘luxury’ print. As well as exploring the chapbooks’ usefulness as ‘mirrors of their time’. Additionally, I am also interested in how Scottish chapbooks were distributed by the chapman and to what extent this contribute to their form and content.

Meagan Lee Butler, University of Glasgow
“Husbands without wives, and wives without husbands”: Divorce and Separation in Scotland, c. 1830-1890

This thesis explores divorce and judicial separation as it occurred in nineteenth-century Scotland, from the decades 1830 to 1890, predating the phenomenon it came to be in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  As Scotland’s history has often been incorporated into a general history of Great Britain, this thesis separates it from the widely researched accounts of marriage and marital breakdown in England to highlight the different approach to regulating marriage, divorce and separation under Scots law.  Applying Scotland’s distinctive legal, demographic and economic context has provided a social history of marital breakdown unique to the country, and filled a historiographical gap for the nineteenth century.  This research will be presented through separate analyses of divorce for adultery, divorce-both official and unofficial-on the ground of desertion, and judicial separation for cruelty, and the more commonly used remedy of criminal courts to resolve marital violence without dissolving the marriage.

Jodi Campbell, University of Guelph
‘To Insult the Church and Ruffle the Magistrates’: Scottish Episcopal Networks of Resistance, 1690-1715

Research on Jacobite networks focuses mainly on Jacobites in exile and their work to return the Stuarts to the throne. Through prosopographical analysis, this project, however, focuses on a network of Scottish Episcopalians and their Anglican brethren in England and Ireland. These men chose to stay in Britain to face down their Presbyterian opponents, highlight what they termed were Presbyterian abuses of power, and push for toleration. Although a great number of Episcopalians were Jacobites hoping, and working for, a Stewart restoration, this thesis stresses the religious persecution of the Episcopalians and their struggle to achieve toleration.

Dr Alison Chand, University of Strathclyde, 2012
The Second World War in Glasgow and Clydeside: Men in Reserved Occupations 1939-1945

Alison’s thesis explores the masculine identities of men in reserved occupations in wartime Glasgow, looking at how they relate to historical discussions of social change and wider discourses on masculinities and gender identities. Her work extends the field of masculinity research in a Scottish context and explores the complexity of masculine identities among Clydeside civilian workers during the Second World War. Her research is based on personal testimonies, focusing primarily on a body of new oral history interviews, as well as the oral history collections held by Glasgow Museums and other cultural sources.

Andy Clark, University of Strathclyde
Women’s Factory Occupations in 1980s Scotland

This research will consider the changing meaning of work, workplace closure and resistance for women in Scotland in the later part of the twentieth-century. Utilising a case-study approach, three factory occupations will form the primary focus of this research: Lee Jeans, 1981; Plessey Capacitors, 1982; and Lovable Lingerie, 1982. The research will utilise a mixed methodology, with a substantial incorporation of oral testimony, allowing the analysis to explore aspects of the occupations unreported or under-reported at the time, along with a consideration of the emotional aspects of employment and prospective joblessness. The role and response of the trade union movement will be analysed, considering the support that women workers received from their own representatives and other rank and file workers.

Lucinda Hazel Stewart Dean (Lucy), University of Stirling
Crowns, Wedding Rings and Processions: Continuity and Change in Representations of Scottish Royal Authority through State Ceremony c. 1214 to c. 1603

Lucy’s thesis bridges the gap between medieval and early modern to address long term continuity and change in representations of Scottish royal authority through three key royal ceremonies: inaugurations/coronations, funerals, and weddings (with consort coronations). It places the ceremonies of death, accession, and royal marriage within the complexities of their political context, including frequent minor accessions, early violent deaths, absentee kingship, and political and religious upheavals in Scotland from c.1214 to c.1603. By offering a detailed analysis of these ceremonies across a broad time period, this thesis illuminates the development of these ceremonies as both reflectors of a distinct Scottish royal identity and representative of their integration within a broader European language of ceremony, and provides the framework from which further research into royal ceremony and its place as essential platform for the dissemination of royal power can be undertaken. For more information see:

Anita R Fairney, University of Western Australia
Jacobite Scotswomen: their roles, identities and agency in Scottish politics, 1688-1788

This thesis will examine the roles and contributions of Jacobite Scotswomen to Scottish politics, from the revolution in which King James II & VII was deposed and went into exile (1688-89), until the death of his grandson, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1788). It will explore Scotswomen’s agency and motivations for contributing to the Stuart restoration—a treasonous affair—with a close analysis of their multi-layered identities and the manifestation of them as Scotswomen and Jacobites, within Scotland’s national politics and identity.

Jennifer Farquharson, Glasgow Caledonian University
‘Citizen Soldier’: the Marginalised Asylum Patient in Great War Scotland, c.1914-1930

This thesis aims to explore the experiences of the civilian and the ex-service patients in Scotland’s District asylums during the Great War and Inter-war eras, and assess the extent of their marginalisation. As War hospitals were requisitioned, existing patient populations were redistributed alongside servicemen thought incurable or unfit for duty; yet a complex interplay of attitudes towards mental illness, including politico-legal, medical, social and military constructs, impacted upon their institutional experiences in distinctive ways. For example, some key concerns of this thesis include the experience of environment disruption, ‘dehumanizing’ admission procedures, and understanding patient communication. Although inroads have recently been made into examining the ex-service patient, the Scottish dimension of such studies has been non-existent, and little has been done to place the civilian within the same context. Therefore this thesis hopes to redress a significant gap in the knowledge of the patient experience in Scotland.

Dr Erin C M Grant, University of Otago, 2013
The Ladies’ Pipe Band Diaspora: Bands, Bonnie Lassies, and Scottish Associational Culture, 1918-2012

Scholarship about the history of the Great Highland Bagpipes has, over the past few decades, focused on the origins and evolution of the instrument, the types of music it produces and the military role it has played historically by high profile pipers. However, there are only a few key studies and this topic is still in its genesis. Further, and paramount to this thesis, existing musical scholarship on the pipes gives minimal attention to women’s involvement with this instrument. In light of this, Erin’s thesis situates female pipers in the history of the pipes and its associated culture through an investigation of ladies’ pipe bands in Scotland and its diaspora including Australia, Canada, England and New Zealand. Erin’s thesis comprises two interrelated investigative threads, addressing the extensiveness, dynamics and endurance of ladies’ pipe bands and the legacies that they have left behind. The first component of this thesis concerns the present lack of acknowledgement of women’s involvement with, firstly, piping traditions and culture throughout the twentieth century and, secondly, within the wider context of Scottish associational culture in the diaspora and in Scotland itself. Ladies’ pipe bands were part of a rich heritage of associational expressions of Scottish diasporic consciousness.

Derek Janes, Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, University of Exeter
The Business of Smuggling in SE Scotland: John and David Nisbet and their associates, 1740–1790

Derek’s starting point is Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth, designed by John Adam for John Nisbet, a local “merchant” in the early 1750s. The purpose of his work is to seek to understand the nature of trade and smuggling in SE Scotland with reference to the lives and careers of John Nisbet of Gunsgreen House, Eyemouth, and his brother David. It will consider the society in which they operated, their connections, associates and rivals.

Aimée McCullough, University of Strathclyde
On the Margins of Family and Home? Working-Class Fatherhood and Masculinity in Scotland, c. 1970-1995

Aimee’s thesis aims to explore the nature of Scottish fatherhood in late twentieth century Scotland, examine stereotypes and assumptions about Scottish fatherhood in relation to masculinities, and recover the experiences of working-class fathers from the margins of family and home life.  While public and political interest in fathers and fatherhood has intensified in recent years, fathers have largely remained ‘hidden in history’, often neglected in historical studies of the family, and appearing only on the periphery of family life, if at all. In Scotland, the history of fatherhood – and particularly working-class fatherhood – is almost non-existent. It is therefore of fundamental importance to explore men as gendered beings and this research has the potential to inform policy debates about fathers, alter social attitudes about the role of fathers in working-class families, and recover fatherhood to modern Scottish history.
Dr Peadar Morgan, University of St Andrews, 2013
Ethnonyms in the Place-names ¬of Scotland and the Border Counties of England
Those place-names containing potential ethnonymic elements revealed a number of motivations for employment of ethnonyms. Ongoing interaction between ethnicities is marked by reference to domain or borderland, and occasional interaction by reference to resource or transit: more superficial interaction is expressed in names of commemorative, antiquarian or figurative motivation. The people recalled can be classified as overlords, interlopers or natives. Implications for the history of the individual ethnicities are discussed. Most are of medieval significance, but antiquarianism in the eighteenth century onwards ascribed many remains to the Picts and Cruithnians (though in Shetland a long-standing supernatural association with the Picts may have been maintained). In an example of ethnicism, growing Gaelic self-awareness is manifested in early-modern domain demarcation and self-referential naming of routes across the cultural boundary. But by the nineteenth century, cultural change came from within, felt most acutely in west-mainland and Hebridean Argyll to judge from the toponymic evidence.

Christoph Otte, University of Edinburgh
Economic Links and Estate Landscapes in Early Medieval Southern Scotland

At the heart of Christoph’s PhD research is the question of how the rural economy in early medieval southern Scotland worked. It aims to test the models set up by J. E. A. Jolliffe and G. R. J. Jones regarding the shire or multiple estate and whether there is any evidence that this was the dominant estate structure in the Kingdom of Bernicia during the sixth to eighth centuries. To make up for the lack of written source material for that region and period, the thesis is designed to encompass a variety of inter-disciplinary approaches and sources, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), archaeology, place-name studies, historical text and map material, palaeoenvironmental studies and anthropology of landscape. By the end of this research, a fuller understanding of the estate and settlement landscape in early medieval southern Scotland will be possible.

Dr Heather Parker, University of Guelph, 2012
“In all gudly haste”: The Formation of Marriage in Scotland, c. 1300-1600

Heather’s work investigated the way in which people entered into marriages in late medieval Scotland and the degree to which this changed during the Reformation. Her thesis provided an in-depth investigation of marriage practices including the choice of partners, the legalities of marrying, the degree to which family was involved in the decision-making process and informal networks of family advisors. She also showed that although some marriage laws changed with the Reformation, there was a great deal of continuity in the actual practice of planning marriages throughout the sixteenth century. Through case studies of the Campbells of Glenorchy and the Carnegies of Kinnaird, Heather demonstrated how this culture of marriage functioned in a large family.

Laura Paterson, University of Strathclyde
‘Beyond commodity and consumption’: Human-animal relations in early modern Scotland

The project will examine the nature of the relationship between humans and animals in Scotland during the seventeenth century, focusing on animals that formed the staple of the Scottish diet, cattle and fish, as well as animals regarded as prestige items, such as hawks and hunting dogs. All Scots, whether arable or pastoral farmers, merchants, or the nobility, had a relationship with animals: buying, selling, eating, breeding, hunting or wearing them. This PhD will explore how animals were regarded and the extent to which this depended on the particular type of animal, on location or economic and social standing, and whether this changed throughout the early modern period.

Sarah Phelan, University of Glasgow
T. Ferguson Rodger: ‘social psychiatry’, ‘mad dreaming’, and ‘rethinking mental health’

This PhD will research the contribution to psychiatry of Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907-1978) who was the first Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948-1973) and a consultant psychiatrist at a number of Glasgow hospitals. Rodger’s career spanned an important period of transformation in psychiatric practice as older “asylum-based” psychiatry was being challenged by emergent general hospital- and community- based psychiatry. This PhD will investigate Rodger’s contribution along three axes: (i) to situate him within a genealogy of humanities-informed Scottish, British and ‘Western’ psychiatry, including as a progenitor of R. D. Laing; (ii) to reconstruct his hybrid psychiatric approach which was neuroscientific and hospital-facing but also “social” and community oriented; and (iii) to disclose the intimacies of his practice. The focus of this exploration is Rodger’s archive held by Glasgow University Archives which contains a wealth of material from Rodger’s career including lecture notes (for students and non-academic audiences), professional reports, war-time records following from Rodger’s involvement in military psychiatry and patient case notes.

Dr Helen Rapport, University of Stirling, 2012
Edinburgh and Glasgow: civic identity and civic rivalry 1752–1842

Helen’s PhD covered the relationship between Scotland’s first and second cities at an important time in their political, economic, and social development. Essentially, the thesis is a comparative study of the two cities’ comparative cultural fabric. The sources for this research are varied and include: diaries, visitor accounts, speeches, newspapers, letters, histories, and sources for the built environment. This research charts how Edinburgh and Glasgow emerged with competing and contrasting civic identities, which encouraged their rivalry but which, more importantly, indicated how claims of local attachment were as evident as those of pertaining to any commitment to the idea of Scotland and Britain.

Chloe Ross, University of Aberdeen
James Connolly and the Internationalism of the Scottish and Irish Labour Movements

Chloe’s thesis focuses on the activities, writings and thoughts of the Edinburgh-born, Irish labour leader, the Socialist James Connolly. At present there are two central failings in the relevant historiographical literature. Material relating to the Scottish labour movement during this period is preoccupied with Glasgow and West-central Scotland. Additionally, in Ireland, the labour movement is simply a footnote to the dominant nationalist historiography. Through focusing on James Connolly, his movements, actions and political writings, the way in which these contexts have been previously analysed can be altered. In the domestic or provincial context, Connolly’s activities highlight the presence of a labour movement in Edinburgh and Dublin respectively. Most strikingly, it demonstrates the internationalism of the labour movement in both these contexts: for example, in Edinburgh Connolly mingled with European émigrés who were prominent figures on the city’s socialist scene, and in Dublin his nationalism was a direct and necessary product of his Socialist-Internationalism. In this sense, Connolly was one of the most significant and important figures within Marxist-Internationalism. Drawing on these chapters the conclusion will seek to elaborate on Connolly as an Internationalist. His participation in the 1916 Rising signalled that he had acted beyond the confines of the Second International which had entrapped many of his European comrades, hence Connolly’s lone actions at a time of jingoistic nationalism stood out to such an extent that many of his fellow socialists distanced themselves from his rhetoric.

Kim Ross, University of Glasgow
The Locational History of Scotland’s District Lunatic Asylums, 1857-1913

Kim’s thesis looks into the later ‘Asylum Age’ in Scotland, concentrating on the legislation and construction of Scotland’s district lunatic asylums from the passing of the 1857 Lunacy (Scotland) Act, 1857 to the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act, 1913. Concentrating on the specific geographies of the asylums, what Foucault refers to as “the space reserved by society for insanity” (Foucault, 1965:251), the thesis weaves a new route between previous radical/critical and progressive/simplistic interpretations of the ‘Asylum Age’, by integrating a Foucauldian interpretation with non-representational theories around the engineering of affective atmospheres. The ideal district ‘blueprint’ for asylum location and design, as put forward by the Scottish Lunacy Commissioners, is uncovered and reconstructed by ‘picking out’ details about the asylum site, grounds and buildings as they were discussed in the annual reports of the General Board. The research then moves to uncover the system ‘on the ground’ as it was constructed in bricks and mortar. As asylum location and architecture was a relatively novel concern, questions of siting and design became more pertinent, and indeed central, in institutional planning during the decades after the mid-century lunacy reforms. Thus, despite periods of waning enthusiasm for the institution as a mechanism for ‘curing’ insanity, ‘fitting the building to its purposes’ continually involved a variety of structural innovations, stylistic refinements and new ways of organising the external and internal spaces of the asylums.

Iida Saarinen, University of Edinburgh
‘Belonging’ in a Roman Catholic Seminary in the Nineteenth Century: A Prosopographical Study of Students and Social Identities at ‘Scots College Paris’, 1793-1878

I am investigating the identifications and lives of the individuals who studied for Roman Catholic secular priesthood, were funded by the Scottish Mission, and spent a part of their studies in any of the affiliated French educational establishments between 1793 and 1878, collectively treated as a continuation of the ‘Scots College, Paris’. The individuals are connected by an experience of senior seminary education in France in the nineteenth century (although not all of them reached their intended goal): the secular priesthood in the service of their funder, the Scottish Mission. I will attempt to identify a full sample of the individuals who meet the criteria and gather not only the key biographical details, but also their socio-economic background, the details of their studies and their later life. This data, coupled with qualitative evidence, will help me to establish how these individuals may have negotiated their sense of belonging affected by the peculiar contexts of the senior seminary.

Lis Smith, University of St Andrews
The First Women at St Andrews, 1877-1892

Lis’ research will examine the role of the University of St Andrews in promoting the higher education of women across the United Kingdom and beyond, through its award of the Lady Literate in Arts (LLA) certificate in the last decades of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth century. It will appraise, in the context of the familial and economic backgrounds of women who undertook the course, what influence possession of the LLA had upon their career development, and the significance of their contributions to the social and political structures of the period. Specifically, the issue of whether the existence of the LLA itself was in any form a catalyst in raising the profile of campaigns for female emancipation will be considered. Analyses of the first matriculated women students in the university will be undertaken, and comparisons drawn between outcomes derived from LLA and degree status.

Heather Stewart, University of Edinburgh
The Influence of Economic Ideas and Local Interests on UK Fisheries Policy, 1945-95

Using UK and Scottish government archives, this research analyses the drivers and processes of UK fisheries policy over the period 1945-1995. Through examining the themes of ownership, access and allocation and examining the choices made regarding regulation, the research aims to determine how, and to what extent, the economic and commercial ideas of fisheries management have been used by politicians when making policy. It argues that, historically, fisheries policy in the UK was shaped foremost by changes in the relative abilities of domestic and local interests to influence government, with intra-British regional conflict working to marginalise the impact of economic ideas within the government’s considerations.

Andrea Thomson, University of Glasgow
Marriage and marriage breakdown in late twentieth-century Scotland

Andrea’s research will add a new perspective to the existing discussion surrounding marriage and family relations in late twentieth-century Scotland. This thesis seeks to recapture the everyday reality of marriage and marriage breakdown, using oral history and a range of contemporary and archival source materials, including legal records and parliamentary, ecclesiastical and sociological commentary. Perceived advances in terms of both mainstream ideology and legislation did not influence marriage in a discursive vacuum, but instead are likely to have integrated and competed not only with generic ideals regarding appropriate gender roles, but also embedded local patterns of gender relations. Oral history is a particularly appropriate methodology with which to address this topic as it permits an arguably unrivalled insight into the experience of daily life.

Helen Louise Young, University of Stirling
The Small Rural School and Community Relations in Scotland, 1872-2000: An Interdisciplinary History

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, utilising social theory and combining archival research with oral history interviewing and quantitative analysis, the aim of this ESRC funded research is to provide a detailed historical account of education across rural Scotland as well as focusing down at community level to explore the role that small schools, and their teachers, have played in community life during this period. Comprising three layers of research (a regional case study based around the old school board districts of Fortingall, Killin and Kenmore in Highland Perthshire; a quasi-random sample of rural schools from across Scotland; and a national overview) the study will engage in thematic discussion with a particular focus on: the small rural school as a ‘pillar of the community’, the urbanising influence of education, and the link between citizenship and community relations.