For the past week I have been researching, thinking and re-thinking potential subjects for my long project. Being presented with such an open project where each aspect of it has to be independently thought out makes you realise the difference between pre-honours and honours in History. No more essay questions presented neatly on a platter, and no more set bibliography. It is harder, but it is also more exciting. I have been forced to question what really interests me and, although I still don’t really have a clear answer, I have ideas.

My family has had an AGA oven since we moved to Scotland from Sweden in 2007. Although the idea of studying an oven might not sound very stimulating, the more I look into the history of the AGA then more I am fascinated by it. It is a Swedish invention by a Nobel prize winning Physicist from the 1920s that has since been increasingly connected with British identity, but is now also exported across the world. I want to track the journey of the AGA through its advertising, and examine its success through its aim to improve efficiency for women in the kitchen. The twentieth century saw an increasing preoccupation with efficiency and functionality. However, traditional design still remained important for many countries, which is probably why the AGA has been so successful in Britain at the same time as it is barely used in Sweden anymore. I think this is a really interesting subject, but I also recognise problems and limitations. I will need co-operation from museums and advertising archives when looking for source material, and will also have to try to track down people to interview about acquiring an AGA in the mid twentieth century and how it changed everyday life ( I will clarify how it did this in my project proposal).

Ultimately, I believe that his project will introduce us to a more realistic picture of what it means to be a historian. Yes, we will need to spend hours in the library to find information, but we will also need to think creatively about who to contact, and what places we might need to travel. Ultimately, studying History (and maybe in particular Transnational History) is a living activity that should also connect us to people and places, and not just confine us to solitary study.

The Long Project and Personal Connection in the Study of History

One thought on “The Long Project and Personal Connection in the Study of History

  • March 1, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I like this acknowledgement of history as a “living activity” – the best historians have to be able to work with the living repositories not only of their own memories, but of our libraries, archives, and sources. Just in the past 3 days, a single email turned into a flurry of new sources and personal connections for me in my own research project. I hope you have similar luck with the AGA project!

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