Wishing blog readers a happy and healthy holiday season

by Cherish Watton on 1 December 2016

It’s that time of year again. The Porters Lodge is adorned in all manner of decorations; the Christmas tree is proudly standing in Warburton Hall awaiting audiences to the Christmas Formal Halls and the Carol Concert. It can only mean one thing – Bridgemas is well and truly upon us. Like every Cambridge term, the last 8 weeks have been packed.

This has been one of my favourite terms so far, as I’ve spent a lot of my time with my head amongst the forests of the Britain during the Second World War for my dissertation research. My dissertation focuses on the work of the Women’s Timber Corps, the female civilian workers who worked in the forests, affectionately known as Lumber Jills. This stems from my long-standing interest in the work of the Women’s Land Army - though it is surprising that many studies make very little mention of this aspect of women's work. For the first time in my training as a historian, I’ve grappled with some of the methodological and conceptual issues which can arise from using material culture as sources, in particular photographs and memorials. This has worked particularly well alongside another paper which I've taken, which revolves around the material culture of Early Modern Europe. Certainly one of the great things about this term has been the bringing together of various strands and approaches to history - both productive and engaging.

I’ve also enjoyed expanding my study of gender history through exploring masculinities. This has involved studying the various roles, expectations, representations and experiences surrounding masculinity in British politics from 1832 to 1901. It’s been fascinating to read a range of source, from parliamentary sketches to diaries to portraits, to unpack what it meant to be ‘a man’ in politics. As you can imagine, this was not a simple endeavour. Although set in the nineteenth century, there are many pertinent parallels which can be drawn in today's political discourses.

The Michaelmas term has also hosted two concerts by the Cavendish Chorale. Under our new conductor, Chloe Allison, we performed a selection of songs as part of our Remembrance concert, raising money for Doctors without Borders. This included Futility, a song composed by Chloe to the words of the famous poem by Wilfred Owen. Since mid-November, we have been getting in the Christmas spirit preparing all manner of carols and songs ahead of Carols Around the Tree this Saturday. We look forward to seeing many members of the Lucy Cavendish community there.

Well, I must dash, I’m welcoming a friend to Cambridge this afternoon ahead of tonight’s Christmas Formal Hall, which I’m sure will be a fun start to the festivities.

Wishing blog readers a happy and healthy holiday season!

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