Kieran Connell - Black Handsworth in the 1980s
Kieran’s thesis examines the social and cultural background to the Handsworth riots of 1985. It offers a micro-history of Birmingham's black and asian population at a time of civil unrest and shows how identities were forged not only through political organisations but through the varied cultural life: from the poetry of Benjamin Zephaniah, the music of Steel Pulse and the sporting activities of Handsworth cricket club. The research for the Phd has included the curating of an exhibition of the photography of Handsworth that involved the active participation of school children today.
Andrew Jones - Live Aid
Andrew looks into the politics of the Band Aid and Live Aid phenomena in the mid-1980s. It explores the role of the media and celebrities (ie Bob Geldof) in the event, the impact on official aid policy and the ways in which it influenced the work of non-governmental organisations, such as Oxfam, operating in Africa. How and why people supported Band Aid has important implications for the politics of aid and humanitarian intervention today.
Daisy Payling - The anti-poll tax movement
Through her research, Daisy explores the social movement against the poll tax under the Thatcher government. It will examine the extent to which it was a movement of people who, as the slogan of the time put it, 'can't pay' and those who 'won't pay'. The PhD will locate this action within a wider history of political activism in 1980s and 1990s Britain, a time when it was assumed citizens became more apathetic
Emma Bullock - Informed consent and justified hard paternalism
Emma’s doctoral thesis focuses on the ethics of clinical decision-making; raising controversial arguments against the view that respect for patient autonomy should always be protected under the doctrine of informed consent. She argues that limitations must be placed on freedom of patient choice within medical practice, thereby motivating a case for hard paternalism: the position that it is sometimes justified to ignore or to interfere with competent patient choices. Emma achieves this conclusion by drawing upon both normative theories of autonomy and wellbeing, case law, and empirical evidence from medical practice.
Peter West-Oram - Healthcare and global justice
Peter pays particular reference to the role of developed nations in providing aid to the global poor. His research is concerned with the scope of obligations to provide aid as well as the extent of any right to health care and defining what is meant by the term health. Focusing on the nature of human rights, he intends to demonstrate that there is a fundamental entitlement to at least a basic level of health care and that this entitlement transcends national boundaries. Peter is also interested in the role of intergovernmental organisations in providing aid to the developing world.
Other areas of interest include biomedical ethics, disability theory, utilitarianism, and theories of justice more broadly.
Ben Bessey - Metaethics and capability theory
Ben’s work focuses on interconnections and relations of support between capability theory and certain views in contemporary metaethics. Capability theory is an influential approach to global justice and the assessment of well-being that urges attention to actual individuals’ opportunities to do, or to be, certain valuable things. His work begins from the existence of a link, in Martha Nussbaum's early work on the capabilities approach, between her methodology for thinking about and justifying the capabilities, and a way of thinking about good human life (as such). Ben hopes to examine these connections, isolating different ways of thinking about the metaethical issues involved, including approaches to realism, naturalism, and particularism; then, by arguing for some approaches over others, the correct relationship between metaethical and normative claims in the foundations of capability theory can be presented.
Herjeet Marway - Women, violence, agency
Herjeet’s research examines the agency of female perpetrators of violence (specifically suicide bombers) using gender and autonomy theories. It dispels misconceptions of gender roles, challenging the ‘peaceful woman’ norm, and argues that justice and liberal models of agency and autonomy are overly-reductive, abstract, and individualistic, which distort and fail to properly account for agency in these contexts. She aims to redress this problem by drawing on virtue and feminist based moral theories to propose a more nuanced, relational model of agent, constrained choice, and autonomy to more appropriately represent the agency of, and allot responsibility to, politically violent women, even in extreme situations of conflict.
Eve Davies - The life course in Byzantium 6th - 12th century
Eve’s PhD looks at the social construction of life stages in the East Roman Empire, sixth to twelfth century. While the course of an individual’s life is determined by certain biological features (puberty, reproductive fitness, death, etc), the trajectory of life is not fixed but it is dependant upon variables including, culture, status and gender. In our modern age, when the structure of the population is changing, constructions of the family are evolving and life expectancies are lengthening, it is increasingly important to understand the founding principles of current Life Course models in the context of our Byzantine cultural inheritance.
Andriani Georgiou - The Empress and Saint Helena as a symbol in Byzantium text and image between the fourth and fifteenth centuries
In Andriani’s thesis she brings together the complete corpus of primary written and visual sources referring to Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, aiming to analyse and interpret the ways that her role was evaluated and reconstructed throughout the Byzantine period.
Emma Login - The contemporary meaning of war memorials in the UK, France, Belgium and the USA from 1860 until the present day
Emma’s research aims to rectify the lack of broader temporal and geographical studies within the area of war memorial research. It challenges the notion that memorials are only important to those with autobiographical memories of the events they commemorate and seeks to demonstrate the many ways in which memorials are reused and appropriated with new meanings within contemporary society.
Rebecca Day - Trade and contact between the Mediterranean and South India and Sri Lanka in the fourth to eighth centuries A.D.
Rebecca’s research uses the movement of money to demonstrate connections between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean in the Late Antique world. By recording finds of coins in India and Sri Lanka, and using these as a background for written evidence and archaeology, her research is showing that the fourth to eighth centuries were important in the development and maintenance of global commercial networks in what is often thought of as a period of recession.
Daniel Reynolds - The impact of Islamic expansion on monasticism and pilgrimage in the Holy Land c.614-950C
Daniel examines monastic communities and pilgrimage sites in the ‘Holy Land’ following the establishment of Islamic rule. Marginalised as a period of dramatic anti-Christian violence, his research challenges this view which is underpinned by traditional anti-Arab prejudice. Daniel demonstrates that monastic decline in the region was not instigated by violence, but a process of progressive social change. In addition, he advocates a more nuanced analysis of Christian/Muslim interfacing in this formative phase–a period which is repeatedly evoked in modern interfaith dialogue.
Jorge Garcia Moncada - New approaches to musical composition derived in part from analyses of non-Western ethnic musics from both contemporary and archaeological source
Jorge’s result is an approach to electroacoustic composition which seeks to find new applications for structures not normally found in Western music, and which also engages with social concerns and regional history.
Chris Tarren - Electroacoustic music composition
Chris’s research investigates the use of 'real-world' recorded sounds in electroacoustic music composition, transforming them and combining them with abstract material, to create music which shapes the listener's experience through varying levels of focus and perception.
Holly Prescott - Abandoned and sub-terranean spaces in contemporary British literature
In her research, Holly challenges existing ways of reading literary spaces by emphasising how authors portray these urban spaces as having an agency of their own, rather than featuring merely as inert literary settings. In addition to her research, Holly has also taken on the responsibility of teaching undergraduate students in the department.
Emily Oliver - Shakespeare in performance on German stages
Emily is a doctoral researcher based at the University’s Shakespeare Institute. Her research focuses on Shakespeare in performance on German stages, exploring the relationship between theatre, society, and politics before, during, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), when the German theatre system was undergoing a difficult transition from state subsidy to commercial pressures caused by drastic funding cuts.
Daniel Moore - Aesthetic history and the representation of the Italian past, 1850-1935
Daniel has recently completed a thesis exploring a number of interdisciplinary writings on the Italian past by nineteenth and twentieth century artistically minded critics with a view to recovering their historiographical importance. Beginning with an exploration of the parameters and scope of a genre defined as 'aesthetic history', along with some theoretical work grounded in current debates about the nature of historical representation, his thesis offers in-depth discussion about texts on the Italian past by John Ruskin, Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, Hnery James, D. H. Lawrence and Adrian Stokes.
Benet Vincent - Modality and the V wh pattern
Benet’s research involves using computer technology as an aid to investigating repeated patterns of language used in the British National Corpus - a collection of texts which was created to be representative of British English in the early 1990s. The thesis aims to build on the insights of Pattern Grammar, an approach developed at Birmingham, by focusing on the V wh pattern, or the set of verbs that can be followed by an interrogative clause (for example 'I know what you are thinking') and the hypothesised association between this pattern and modal-like language. The emerging descriptions of modal-like language based around the infinitive may challenge traditional models of modal meaning.
John Horne - The psychiatric institution in cinema: spectatorship,citizenship and social policy
John's PhD examines cinematic depictions of psychiatric institutions in North American and British film, alongside historic shifts in the theory, policy and practice of mental health treatment. It aims to describe the interactions between socio-cultural realities and filmic imaginaries, producing an archaeology of what John terms the 'screen asylum'. As such, the thesis seeks to ask whether 'madness' is treated at a cultural level and to question how the pleasures of spectatorship are entangled with the political issues of citizenship.
John is in his first year as a PhD student following on from a very successful MA here at Birmingham too. He is an editor of 49th Parallel, an interdisciplinary journal of North American Studies, for which he manages the website as well. He successfully bid to bring the British Association of American Studies Postgraduate Conference to the University of Birmingham, and is co-organising this event which, entitled, 'American Frontiers', will take place in November 2011.