On 25 May 2017, Dr Karol Mullaney-Dignam, Department of History, spoke at a colloquium on ‘Historical debates within arts scholarship and practice’ at the University of Glasgow. The event was organised by the Eighteenth-century Arts Education Research Network (EAERN) which is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh to bring together scholars and practitioners to discuss and investigate new approaches in using eighteenth-century arts educational materials.

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Dr Mullaney-Dignam is the only international core network member. She presented a paper entitled ‘Hidden histories: arts, education, and élite Irish household records’ which drew on her published case studies of the related FitzGerald and Conolly families in Co. Kildare. It considered the role of arts scholarship in enhancing historical accounts, particularly as these aspects of the past have tended to fall outside what has been monumentalised as historically significant. Issues relating to the historiography of music in Ireland and the challenges of constructing historical narratives from ‘silent’ primary sources removed from practice-based or performance contexts were also outlined.

The purpose of the colloquium, the first of three proposed for 2017 and 2018, was to consider current methodologies in using eighteenth-century education sources, especially for the purposes of practice-based research, and the possible challenges and benefits of interdisciplinary collaborations with other arts subjects. Relevant items from Special Collections at the University of Glasgow Library were displayed in the colloquium presentation space and discussed by presenters. The evening ended with a participatory social exercise: learning late eighteenth-century group dances to music supplied by members of Concerto Caledonia’s Dance Band!

The following day, Dr Mullaney-Dignam attended a meeting of the core network at the University to discuss future network events, including a workshop series commencing in September 2017, necessary areas of research, and the future of the network. Information on the aims of EAERN can be found on the website: eaern.wordpress.com as well as on the EAERN Facebook group and Twitter @EAERNing.

Dr Mullaney-Dignam’s research activity at Glasgow was funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Limerick’s AHSS Faculty Research Committee.

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