Andrew McDiarmid research experiences at Yale: entry two

Thanksgiving and Christmas ‘American style’ were something to behold; Cornbread casserole, mashed sweet potatoes topped with pecans and brown sugar, green bean casserole, turkey, ham, pecan pie, not to mention the eggnog, craft beers and wine.  A month later and I think I am just about back to my fighting weight.

I spent Christmas with family in Virginia, where I made the short trip to D.C. a few times. I visited everywhere you should and loved it all. I had a tour of the Capitol Building. I even visited the theatre where Abraham Lincoln was shot (the box where it happened has been preserved exactly as it was) for a rendition of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Washington is a truly fantastic city and I would recommend anyone reading this to go if they ever get the chance. However, my trip to Virginia was unexpectedly extended by a few days thanks to the ‘Bomb Cyclone’ that hit the east coast of America at the start of the year. My preferred method of travel (or rather the cheapest) from New York to Washington had been the Megabus (yes they have those here too), and I didn’t fancy getting stuck mid-journey by the side of the road in Delaware or Maryland on a packed bus with one toilet.

Overeating and bus rides aside, I made it back to New Haven and got back to work. The tail end of last semester had involved a lot of workshops and getting on with my writing. The workshops were varied, some related to Early Modern Britain, others cast their historical net a little wider, covering Russia and France, and there were also dedicated sessions to different aspects of higher educational teaching including: inclusive assessment, diversity, and structuring an effective lecture. The last of these workshops were part of a teaching diploma that I have undertaken during my stay here at Yale. For my assessment I was required to submit a portfolio including a teaching statement, two syllabi that I have developed for new modules, notes on two opportunities that I had to observe other classes, and reflective writing. The whole assessment process was incredibly rewarding. Creating class syllabi in particular was a huge step forward in preparing me for a future career in academia, whilst observing other scholars as they taught classes was very helpful in honing my own skills. Previously, I had always been in a class as a student or latterly as a tutor and therefore I’d never had the opportunity to watch what the teacher was doing. The one class that was particularly memorable, giving me the perfect occasion to observe was the ‘Protection Against the Dark Arts of Persuasion’, taught by Professor Zoe Chance (check out her TEDx talk) in the School of Management; it was a truly wonderful experience. The portfolio has been submitted, and I have been awarded the diploma.

As last semester was such a whirlwind of new experiences, I am currently reading, A LOT! I want to make the best use of the resources I have whilst I am here. The archival materials available at the Beinecke Library are a dream for any historian, and I have a research trip planned to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library at the New York Historical Society before I return home.

My time here has been great, but I am missing Scotland. Whilst living here in the USA I’ve lost touch with UK news, but have become well acquainted with all things Trump. I have also missed ‘real’ football, so I am looking forward to catching up on the Champions League. Speaking of news, as I’ve been away for six months I assume that by the time I return Brexit will have all been sorted out: right?