The York Historian Meets: Michael Walkden
“It’s essential for universities to keep producing citizen historians… the university historian doesn’t have to be the only gatekeeper of the truth of the past.”
The York Historian meets Michael Walkden, a third-year PhD student in the History Department, studying early modern medical history. Michael’s research, “The Gut-Mind Connection in Early Modern Medicine and Culture, c.1580-c.1740”, delves into the mental and physical connections observed in the digestive system during the early modern period. Together, we discuss Michael’s perspectives on academia, the postgraduate process and the role of the Historian in everyday society, with existentialist digressions along the way.
00:32 Teaching seminars
03:56 Michael after PhD
05:33 Networking in academia
09:22 Writing essays
11:29 Doing an MA in a related field
13:56 PhD funding and process
18:59 Choosing what to study long-term
25:39 Approaching PhD research
27:34 Finding relevance in research
29:51 Using history to explain the present – is this problematic?
33:03 Margaret Macmillan and the Historian as the oracle of truth
36:41 How much authority does history have, and how much should it have?
38:04 The value of a history degree
39:19 Era of presidential tweeting and united opposition to ignorance
41:38 Citizen historians and closing remarks
By Paul Kerr
Reblogged this on and commented:
My interview with faculty member and PhD student Michael Walkden :).
Michael Walkden has now made the top ten of my list of people to be trapped in a lift for several hours with- What a fascinating discussion! Michael’s sociological perspective on history allows a multi-faceted and surprisingly modern and relevant conversation. Should anyone be tempted to think the study of history the sole preserve of crusty academics, here is a man who moves effortlessly between medieval medicine and almost the byword for medical innovation, the Wellcome Trust. From an MA in “writing”, to mental health studies, past and present, endearingly, Michael believes he is just scratching the surface of his chosen career. I look forward to Michael’s PhD in print, please put me down for a copy. If it is anywhere as fascinating as the man himself, it will probably end up being required reading for undergraduates across at least three disciplines.
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