Our new Head of Dept, Professor Ian Shaw (far left) and Dean of Faculty of Humanities Professor Rob Warner (far right) with the editors – Meggen (right), Jo (centre) and Howard (left) at the book launch

A New Book

Yes, we have finally decided that the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester should start doing book launches to celebrate the publication of our principal book-length research outputs. On Wednesday of this week was our first, to celebrate the publication of the book: Early Medieval Stone Monuments: Materiality, Biography, Landscape published by Boydell. Together with my co-editors Jo and Meggen, I can now sign off on a project that began in 2010 and you can read about here. Also, if you would like, please buy your copy of the book here. Christmas is coming and it would make a fabulous stocking-filler!

After the first of this academic year’s departmental research seminars by Professor Ian Shaw, our new Head of Department, we moved on to the book launch. Nibbles were nibbled, booze was quaffed and there were speeches and presentations. The event was a well-attended by staff and students who had a chance to celebrate this book’s launch but also the broader and growing research culture of the Department.

We were proud and pleased to give a copy of the book to Rod Cox, the local businessman who part-funded Jo’s PhD research, part of which appears as a chapter in the book.

Jo, Meggen and me!

Remembering John

We were also privileged to give another copy of the book to Aleta Doran and her three girls. We dedicated the book to the memory of the late Dr John Doran, a great colleague who is sadly missed. It meant a great deal to all three of us to have them present at the book launch and receive the book.

Mixed Feelings about Book Launches

Wednesday’s launch was a good event.  Still, I must confess that I have mixed feelings about book launches. It is a personal regret for me that edited books and monographs can be put on a pedestal in this fashion when much of my work goes into chapters in edited books and articles in peer-review journals and cannot be celebrated in a comparable fashion. No-one ever wants a ‘launch’ for book chapters and journal articles! In addition, I have just slogged through the last 3 years editing a journal and while apparently books deserve a launch, journal volumes don’t!

So I have plans to continue to support the department’s book  launches but also to subvert this tradition. Writing blogs about my new publications is one way of celebrating their release and letting people know about them. Moreover, I hope to organise the opposite of a book launch – a journal de-launch – in May 2017. This is when I step down as Honorary Editor of the Archaeological Journal, the annual journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute. By that point, I will have edited 6 volumes of the journal over 5 years (vols 169, 170, 171, 172 and forthcoming volumes 173 and 174).

Still, I am very happy to have this moment just pause and celebrate our achievements before moving on to the next project…