History in the Making author in focus: Mark Pashley-Partridge

Mark Partridge

Photo supplied by Mark Pashley-Partridge 

Mark Pashley-Partridge is the author of “Silence in Australian Folkore: The 1804 Escape Attempt From Castle Hill and Why the Irish are Silent“, recently published in Volume 7, Number 1 of History in the Making.

To kick-off the beginning of our 2020 ‘author in focus’ series, Mark reflects on his research, his creative processes, his experiences of the peer review process and provides some timely advice for history students conducting research during the COVID19 pandemic.

How did you come to the topic for your History in the Making article?

Ever since primary school I have been interested in Australian colonial history influenced by a trip to Old Sydney Town and after watching Against The Wind. I was aware of the 1804 Castle Hill rebellion but did not understand the full magnitude of the event until further reading revealed that this was the first example of an organised armed rebellion in the colony; the first example of martial law being instigated and many other firsts. What surprised me was the lack of commemoration of such a monumental event in Australian culture.

I have always been drawn to the subaltern view of history, the “history from below” view, and sought to explain the silence linked with this event. It was my wife that mentioned the Irish folk tradition of memory in song which resulted in me diving down the rabbit hole of silences in folk tradition – thanks Kate.

What’s your writing process?

Structure is extremely important with a clear indication of submission dates. I utilise a whiteboard as a visual aid to keep me on track with the fundamental question I am attempting to answer. Research is critical and it is important to leave myself sufficient time to find and read all necessary sources. I only commence a rough structure after reading all available source material before I commence writing. Once I start writing I force myself to write every night (I was working full-time during my postgraduate studies so discipline was essential).

What did you learn from the peer review process?

It is always an apprehensive feeling opening your work to potential criticism by academics rather than simply submitting a paper for grading but it was an interesting experience to receive the feedback from others that did not know you or your work prior to the review process. Fresh eyes can surely only be a positive process as the researcher is sometimes too close to the work they have completed. The peer review feedback was supportive of my overall thesis and it was encouraging to receive some fantastic guidance to improve the quality of my paper. I wish I had this level of feedback before submitting this paper for grading.

What advice would you give to someone considering submitting an article to History in the Making?

As a budding historian you need to be passionate about your work. History is about challenging the established views in order to expand our thinking and this best way to open your work up to academia is to seek publication of your paper. Do not take any peer review comments personally and treat the process as a means of professional development on your course to becoming an historian in your chosen field. The team at HITM have been great throughout the process so overall it has been an enjoyable experience.

Do you have any advice for history students trying to study and conduct research during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I graduated from my Master of History in June 2019 prior to the madness that is COVID-19 but I studied via the University of New England as an external student. As such, my mode of study was predominantly online. The online mode of study required discipline and the ability to prioritise with often conflicting assessment dates. My research did require a few days at the Mitchell Library, Sydney enjoying delving into primary sources. This would be difficult in the present circumstances but thankfully the majority of libraries have now digitised a large portion of their primary source material making it possible to conduct your research online. I think resilience and persistence are the key to conducting research at the moment.

Where would you like to take your research next?

I have been asked this question a lot since I have graduated. My goal when I enrolled in my Master’s was to write a research paper that added to the historiography of Australian colonial studies and to have that research paper published. After working full-time and taking 3.5 years to complete my award it’s time for a well-deserved break before I determine whether there is a PhD in me. I think my wife would kill me as it is her turn to study next.

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