| By Tim Galsworthy

I first joined the Pubs and Publications committee in the summer of 2018, just before I began my PhD that September. Pubs and Pubs has, therefore, been part and parcel of my entire doctoral journey so far. After first serving as Topical Editor, I became Chair of the blog in January 2020. I had the honour of chairing the blog during our fifth anniversary last February. After a year in this role – and what I year I chose to be Chair! – I am now stepping down and leaving the committee. In this final post, I am reflecting on what Pubs and Publications has meant to me. 

On a practical, utilitarian level, working with Pubs and Pubs afforded ample opportunity to write and to hone my prose. Writing is such a crucial part of a PhD and the blog enabled me to regularly produce pieces of work to set deadlines. In particular, I was able to write about things that interest me but are not necessarily related directly to my doctoral research. For instance, the very first post I produced for Pubs and Pubs, and probably still my favourite, debated the pros and cons of a “Confederate Memento Park.” 

The writing we produce throughout our PhDs is more often than not sombre, serious, and scholarly. Thanks to Pubs and Pubs, I have been able to work on much more light-hearted pieces. Writing dafter posts asking which football team or which British detective series best represented your PhD bought a smile to my face, and hopefully light relief to people reading them. If the trials and tribulations of 2020 have taught us anything it’s the absolute necessity of frivolity in the face of everything. 

Our doctoral journeys are habitually defined by specialism and silos. We find our niches and sometimes cling to those niches, joining particular organisations or attending particular conferences which are within our academic comfort zones. One of the great joys of Pubs and Pubs is its true inter-disciplinarity. Being part of, and then leading, the blog’s committee gave me the opportunity to work with amazing people from a range of disciplines, backgrounds, and institutions, inside and outside the UK. My experience of collaboration and cooperation has been nothing but positive. Working across subjects, and even without regard for specialism, is not just a buzzword for Pubs and Pubs, it’s a reality. We were versed in online meetings and remote, distance organisation before any of us had ever heard of Zoom!

Chairing Pubs and Pubs during 2020 has certainly been interesting. When I took over from Krysten Blackstone at the beginning of last year, a global health crisis was not something any of us factored into the thinking. The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the value and importance of our blog. As with countless other professions and sectors, doctoral researchers have faced unique challenges thanks to COVID-19. From uncertainty about funding/funding extensions, to difficulties accessing key research materials (something I have experienced myself due to travel restrictions and archive closures), and the mental health challenges of loneliness and isolation many of us have faced. Pubs and Pubs has provided – and will continue to provide – doctoral researchers an invaluable avenue to write about and read about the challenges we are facing and the different ways of navigating these uncertain times. I am proud to have lead Pubs and Pubs during this turbulent period, even growing our committee during last summer’s recruitment drive. I hope I have left the blog in as strong a position as when I took on the top job, even despite the hellscape of 2020!

Being part of this committee has undoubtedly been great for developing transferable skills such as time management, communication, collaboration, and writing for different audiences. However, Pubs and Pubs is about more than just a few more lines on my CV. It is hard to fully describe the pride I have felt working alongside such amazing people and having the privilege of reading such outstanding content. Pubs and Pubs is a family – once you are part of it, it never fully leaves you and you never fully leave it.

Despite departing the committee and stepping down as chair, I will continue to follow the blog. I might even supply the occasional guest post, if the remaining committee members will let me! I am incredibly proud to have followed in the footsteps of great past chairs and committee members. I hope my tenure has lived up to the expectations of those who went before me. My time with Pubs and Pubs is an experience I will always look back on with fondness and with happy memories. As we step into the brave new world of 2021, I know Pubs and Pubs will continue going from strength to strength. I look forward to cheering on from the sidelines. I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and safe new year. I will raise a glass to Pubs and Publications the next time I am able to set foot in said pub! 

Tim Galsworthy is a third-year History PhD candidate at the University of Sussex. His doctoral research explores Civil War memory and the Republican Party. Alongside being the outgoing Chair of Pubs and Publications, he is also Postgraduate Secretary for HOTCUS (Historians of the Twentieth Century United States).

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