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“Thaibhsí i measc muid:” Ghosts amongst us.

I’ve chosen this title for my blog for a number of reasons. “Ghosts” because I study the long-dead citizens of medieval Dublin: who they were, how they died, where they died, how and where they were buried. Their ghosts speak to me through the surviving medieval record sources. “Ghosts among us” because I also explore the medieval city of Dublin, particularly the spaces and landscapes where deaths were governed; this medieval Dublin (and its ghosts!) fused with the modern city  and it remains there – scarcely visible, but still there – among us. The title is in Irish because I have found a happy academic home in the field of medieval Irish studies.

Who am I? I am a Ph.D candidate in UConn’s Medieval Studies program, and a historian concentrating in medieval and early modern Ireland and Britain. Originally, it was Irish faerie (síd) beliefs that drew me to Irish studies; more recently, I’ve been exploring social and cultural histories of death and dying in medieval Ireland. Morbid? Maybe a little, but death rituals and customs can reveal so much about the living, particularly in a time and place (like medieval Ireland) where so few documentary records have survived beyond the Middle Ages. My dissertation is entitled “Competing authorities and contested spaces: Dying in Dublin in the reign of Edward I.” Essentially, I explore the spaces and landscapes where death, dying and burial was governed in medieval Dublin and the three rival authorities – the Irish Church, the King of England, and the City of Dublin – that competed for control over these spaces.

I’ve started this blog as a way to share anecdotes from my research and my experiences with academic life more generally, to chart progress on my dissertation, and to work through those occasional pesky episodes of writer’s block by reflecting on my own writing process and research methodology. I would also love to ignite conversations about teaching and writing history, Irish studies, archaeology and phenomenology, cultural geography and landscape studies, and surviving academic life in general.

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