HEATHER MANN (DPhil in History)
Heather Mann is currently completing a DPhil in History at Lincoln College, Oxford. Her thesis, ‘Holocaust Memory and its Mediation by Teachers: its Study in Three European Cities’, uses oral history to study teachers’ memory of the Holocaust in Lincoln in Britain, in Aix-en-Provence in France, and Linz in Austria, to study the evolution of Holocaust education, memory and national mythology inside the classroom. Heather completed her Masters thesis at the University of Oxford on the evolution of British Holocaust education and prior to that worked as a secondary school teacher in the UK and Germany. Heather has just completed a work placement in UNESCO where she worked in Education about the Holocaust and preventing genocide.
Academic Team 2016-2017
- Sarah Bochicchio (MSt in Modern British & European History)
- Sudheesh Ramapurath Chemmencheri (DPhil in International Development)
- Francesca Donnellan (DPhil in Clinical Medicine)
- Emily Glassford (DPhil in History)
- Prateek Katti (DPhil in Medical Engineering)
- Lloyd Pinnell (MSc in Economics)
- Paul Stephens (DPhil in English)
Lincoln Leads DPhil student and Academic Representative for the MCR, Heather Mann, discusses her inspiration behind the student-led seminar series, Lincoln Leads.
The following article was published in Lincoln College’s Imprint Magazine in 2017.
After settling into my Bear Lane accommodation in Michaelmas 2015, the first Lincolnite I met was Max, who had just graduated from ‘the other place’ and was now looking to complete his DPhil in Synthetic Biology. As we took in the beauty of the Lincoln quads on a tour led by the incumbent MCR committee, he talked about the internship he had completed at Gen9 Bio, a Boston-based next-generation DNA synthesis startup. I nodded along and made a mental note to look up what synthetic biology was. Post-tour, I found myself in the MCR having a cup of tea with Lucie, who was eager to start her research into the role of emotion in Medieval Literature, and was looking forward to her first supervision where she wanted to discuss ‘joy’ in The Canterbury Tales. I hadn’t read Chaucer since I was sixteen and was out of my depth in a conversation where Lucy’s passion equalled my ignorance. I was overwhelmed by the expertise and enthusiasm of the MCR and it seemed apparent that my education at Lincoln was set to be much broader than just my research question and discipline.
But then term started, and as I approached my graduation for my MSt in British and European History, it dawned on me that after a whole year at Lincoln, I knew little more about medieval happiness and even less about biological engineering. I was determined not to make the same mistakes when I returned to start my DPhil, and instead chose to celebrate the diversity of research and acumen in Lincoln College, and the successes nurtured by the College. Perhaps overstepping my mandate as the elected Academic Representative for the MCR, I invited members of the MCR to join a newly formed ‘Academic Team’ and developed a multi-disciplinary seminar series aimed at bringing together the Lincoln common rooms, alumni and staff to celebrate the areas in which, without doubt, Lincoln Leads.
During Hilary Term 2017, Lincoln College played host to eight consecutive panel discussions; inviting a Lincoln Fellow, a Lincoln alum and a Lincoln student to discuss and debate topical questions, ranging from the purpose of scientific research to the legal consequences of Brexit. The series started on a high, as Professor Margaret Stevens (Senior Research Fellow in Economics), David Weston (1998, Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust) and Garima Jaju, (DPhil candidate in International Development) formed the panel ‘Lincoln Leads in Economics’ and deliberated over the question, ‘Are we taught to become ‘economically viable products?’
Week 2 brought us the impassioned words of Professor Peter Atkins (Supernumerary Fellow) and Professor Çiğdem Işsever (Fellow in Physics) who argued against Max Jamily (DPhil Synthetic Biology) about the pursuit of new knowledge above scientific research’s commercial viability. The panel sat well as a prelude to Week 6, when ‘Lincoln Leads in Medicine’ explored the past, present and future of Lincoln’s biological breakthroughs. Dr Eric Sidebottom (former Fellow in Medicine) put Lincoln at the centre of his history of Howard Florey’s penicillin lab, Professor David Vaux (Fellow in Medicine) highlighted key discoveries made by Lincoln students in his laboratory and MCR student Mustafa Aydogan positioned cell biology as the future of research in the Dunn School.
The success of the first two weeks meant that the remaining panels were fully booked, with over one hundred people securing tickets to listen to our third panel, ‘Lincoln Leads in Politics’. Coinciding with the parliamentary vote on Brexit, Lincoln alumnus Lord Lisvane (1963, the leading expert on parliamentary democracy and former Clerk of the House of Commons), Graham Child, (Supernumerary Fellow, Partner at Slaughter & May and co-author of EU law of competition) and Daniel Kozelko (2016, BCL) discussed the timely question of ‘What is the future for Britain post-Brexit?’
In Week 4, 1960s historian and Fellow, Dr Sam Brewitt-Taylor, current DPhil student George Artley and Richard Spencer (1984, Middle East Correspondent at The Times) debated the long standing historical question,‘Is revolution always about religion?’ The panel failed to agree on anything other than that it all rested on what you defined as revolution and how you defined religion. Debate continued in the following week’s lecture, as ‘Lincoln Leads in Law’ provocatively discussed ‘Should misogyny be a crime?’, with a panel composed of Dr Barbara Havelková (Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law), Zoe Williams (1991, journalist and author) and Patricia Jimenez Kwast (DPhil in Law). Week 7 saw Robert Kerr (1971, former executive at Burberry), Dr Joshua Thomas (Lavery-Shuffrey Early Career Fellow in Roman Art and Archaeology) and Sarah Bochicchio, an MCR historian of Elizabeth I’s wardrobe, all decisively agreed on the incessant power of the image in society and politics.
In our final week we were joined by student David Rochat, English Literature Fellow Dr Timothy Michael and comedian Kate Smurthwaite (1994), who each explored the language used by the media in support of contemporary populist movements. The session concluded with a particularly amusing and witty analysis of tropes used by ‘trolls’ commenting on Kate’s YouTube videos. Kate was one of a number of Lincoln Leads speakers who were subsequently invited to speak at the Oxford Union.
The debates were attended by Oxford dons, students and alumni, as well as the general public, and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. We were grateful to receive generous funding from the Annual Fund and Senior Tutor’s Fund, which allowed us to hold a post-seminar wine reception for the audience, and to entertain our speakers at High Table where lively discussion and conversation continued. The first lectures are now available as podcasts. Make sure to subscribe to the Lincoln Leads series to be notified when further podcasts are released!
Lincoln Leads offered a platform for students to professionally present their research alongside experts in that field, and united the College in celebration of its educational successes. It was an opportunity to showcase the incredible research and ideas that come from our Lincoln community; whether Fellow, alumni or student. It was heartening for so many alumni to eagerly return to Lincoln and offer their time and expertise as part of this project, and the Academic Team look to welcoming more alumni speakers in Hilary 2018 as Lincoln Leads ‘Again’.
Heather Mann (2015)
MCR Academic Affairs Officer 2016-17