Interview with Rhiannon Snaith

Our next seminar will be taken by Rhiannon Snaith on 29th January 2018. As usual tea and biscuits will be served at 17:40 with the seminar starting at 18:00. Below we talked to Rhiannon about life in the northeast, knights in shining armour and notorious nobles.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from?

I’m a local! I grew up in County Durham. At 18 I wanted to get away a bit, so I went to university in Wales. I studied Medieval and Early Modern history at Aberystwyth. There were a lot of seagulls, and once a blue shark was found parked on a set of double-yellow lines. It made the front page of the local paper. The place had an awful lot of charm!

What brought you to Durham?

I came back north to Durham for my MA because I’d been feeling a little homesick (and was tired of seagulls clog-dancing on my skylight). Wales was lovely, but there’s nowhere like the North East!

After working in North Yorkshire for a couple of years after my MA, I decided to jump back into higher education. Completing my PhD felt a lot like unfinished business. I’ve been feeling like a pig in mud ever since.

What is your favourite thing about the medieval/early modern period?

As a child I was always in love with the traditional notions of knights in shining armour, and I guess, given my research interests, some of that never really went away.

I’ve always been a bit of a story-teller at heart. I love how we have to play detective, piecing together different kinds of evidence to try and reconstruct a  kind-of ‘lost world.’ Studying this period often brings home to me that, despite the differences between our times and theirs, human beings don’t really change very much.

 

What does your research focus on?

My research focuses on the relationship between noble reputation and noble power in late medieval England. I explore contemporary notions of reputation (both noble and non-noble) and their role in society, culture and politics. Reputation mattered, and I’m just keen to find out the hows, the whys and the how-much-es!

What do you plan to focus on in your seminar?

My talk focuses on the posthumous reputations of two late medieval dukes of Gloucester. I explore the uses their reputations were put to by others in the wake of their deaths. It really does seem like an example of history repeating itself, and I don’t think that was an accident. I hope it will demonstrate why studying reputation is a worthwhile thing to do!

If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?

I really have no idea! My old job made me miserable, so definitely not that! I think I would have to be doing something creative because I’m happiest when I’m making new things. Writing was always my first love, so possibly something to do with that.

Do you have a favourite medieval/early modern text?

I really have no idea! My old job made me miserable, so definitely not that! I think I would have to be doing something creative because I’m happiest when I’m making new things. Writing was always my first love, so possibly something to do with that.

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