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.

Listen here

00:00 Introduction

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