Three undergraduate history students from Kingston University’s History department were rewarded for their very hard work and contributions to the world of history blogs at a recent graduation ceremony.
The three students – Timothy Lortal, Kate Riley and Adreanna Uttke – all graduated at the University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences graduation ceremony, held at the Rose Theatre in Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, on Friday 20th July, 2018.
The students were awarded with the new Emily-Violet Award, a new award created by the University’s History team based on an idea and funds generously donated especially for the module by former History undergraduate (and current Kingston History MA student) Stuart Smith, who had undertaken the module himself during his undergraduate degree at Kingston. The award is given to the student (or students) who, in the view of the History staff at the University, have produced the Best Student Contribution to, and Performance on, the History department’s Final year History Capstone blogging module.
Timothy Lortal produced some fascinating work on the British Space programme of the 1950s-1970s, an area of relative neglect in the available scholarly literature. As he pointed out, many people are aware of the Space race involving the USA and USSR; however, ‘much less known is the British Space programme and you might be forgiven for not being aware that there was one’. It had a severely limited budget compared to the virtually unlimited resources of the American and Soviet programmes, but, while its aims were significantly less ambitious, nonetheless it remained important.
Timothy’s history blogging work was also motivated by his own residency on the Isle of Wight and the fact that rockets in the UK’s programme were manufactured and tested ‘not far from where I lived’ – this inspired him to research into its history. Timothy’s research included some scrutiny of some invaluable primary sources available at the National Archives in Kew, near Richmond.
Kate Riley produced some equally fascinating research work for her blog on Hamilton: the Musical, the hit Broadway musical from 2015 that combined hip-hop music and material on the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers. As Kate pointed out, Hamilton has ‘become one of the most successful pieces of musical theatre ever created’. Written by Lin-manuel Miranda, it has won 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and has continued to sell out shows months in advance.
Kate’s history blogging work was also motivated by the fact that she happened to be one of the lucky people who had managed to obtain a ticket for the show when it finally transferred to London’s West End, and ‘I witnessed for myself this incredible blend of history, hip-hop and politics’. Kate’s work for the blogging module critically evaluated the historical content and messages and meanings that richly pepper the smash-hit theatre production.
Adreanna Uttke produced some intriguing and highly original work for her blog on the ‘Salish Schools’ and their significance in Native American history. As Adreanna pointed out in her blog, she grew up in Spokane, Washington, about five blocks away from the Salish School of Spokane. She also grew up with Native American family members and friends, visiting local reservations and going to ‘pow-wows’ with her Apache-Aztec step-father. Andreanna also became interested in the Salish language when she attended Spokane Falls Community College, and became interested in learning about Salish and its place in the area’s history.
Explaining her decision to blog on the topic, Adreanna said: ‘When I moved out of Spokane to study my degree at Kingston University I discovered that I had to take a class on blogging and our final blog post and presentation could be on any topic we wanted with a historical connection. As no one in my course had heard of Salish I thought it would be the perfect topic for my blog post’.
The History teaching team at Kingston, together with Mr. Stuart Smith, would all like to congratulate the above three students for their hard work on Kingston’s innovative blogging module and their well-deserved Emily-Violet Awards, and also for their devotion to the world of history blogs, an approach to understanding the past which remains a relatively new, but increasingly important, area in the academic and more general study of history.
Dr. Steven Woodbridge, Senior Lecturer in History, Kingston University