The last post – from our Hardy podcasting student, Kirsty!

It was a sad day for us when Kirsty O’Rourke finished her student placement here. Kirsty, studying for an MA in Public History at the University of York, not only helped us with our Thomas Hardy podcasts, but she led the way! She researched, planned, set-up, recorded and edited two podcasts, and several more are ready to be recorded. All done with great enthusiasm and humour – she was a pleasure to work with. 
Here is a blog Kirsty wrote about her time with us:
It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.’ Thomas Hardy

…But here I am about to prove Hardy wrong. Or maybe I won’t!

Ten weeks have flown by. I started my placement with Wessex Museums in January and at the end of March I was trying to come to terms with it finishing. Throughout this placement I met incredible people, both within the museums and outside. My placement was to assist on the project of making Wessex Museums first ever podcast – it was exciting, interesting, and honestly it was a bit of a learning curve.

I was lucky enough to complete this placement as part of my MA. Within this degree, we talk about theory, discuss pitfalls and issues, talk about how things could be done better. I sit as a cynic in a classroom evaluating practices and institutions. Now, as someone that, for the briefest of times, has had a window into these institutions, my cynicism has wavered. My appreciation for these institutions has grown and my motivation to work in this sector has increased ten-fold. It has been a fantastic experience and has helped me in my understanding of Public History.

I have had an amazing experience and learnt so much. Discussing with guests about possible podcast episodes gave me the opportunity to meet a range of people with varied experiences and gave me brilliant insight into the heritage sector and all its possibilities.

Writing these blogs, that have to be about 500 words long not my usual 2,000-word rambling, have really shown me how to adapt from my academic writing to public writing outputs – a skill I hope to frequently use in the future. Working on this project has allowed me to get to grips with new technology including editing software, this will be invaluable for my future.

It has given me even more of a desire to work to make history more accessible to all. This placement has equipped me with some of the skills I need to enter this sector.

While I grew up in Wessex and went to school there too, I came to this placement with minimal knowledge on Thomas Hardy. Yes, I had watched Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba in Far From the Madding Crowd, and yes I had seen Hardy in Legend.. Oh no wait, wrong Tom. But I did not know the intricacies of Thomas Hardy’s life and the activism he used in his writing. I had not realised he moved to poetry towards the end of his career. And I definitely didn’t know that his heart stayed in Wessex while his body was brought to Westminster Abbey (and I do not speak figuratively).

This placement not only taught me digital skills but also educated me in the world of Thomas Hardy. So, thank you Cathy, the amazing Digital Marketing Officer, for your help with the digital and thank you Harriet, the incredible Thomas Hardy curator, for your knowledge and insight into Hardy himself.

I suppose, hopefully not for the last time, I will say goodbye.”


(Our Hardy podcasts will be released from June onward.)


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