Leave to Supplicate Granted: November 2022
DPhil Research Topic:
The Crimean Moment and Crucible: Ideas of War and Peace, 1854-6
I am an historian of Modern Britain, with a particular interest in religious, intellectual, and cultural history. My research primarily examines how clerical and lay intellectuals addressed complex questions of war and peace which intersected with religion and morality. It focuses on the period between 1851—the year which saw the apogee of the peace movement and of ideas of non-interventionism, liberal internationalism, and free trade—and the outbreak of the First World War. My work draws on visual and material culture, secular and religious newspapers and periodicals (metropolitan and provincial), pamphlets, tracts, parliamentary debates, letters, diaries, poetry, fiction, and sermons.
My DPhil thesis, jointly funded by the AHRC and the Sir John Keegan Scholarship at Balliol College, in addition to the Royal Historical Society Centenary Fellowship based at the Institute of Historical Research, has argued that that the Crimean War’s unique circumstances forged a crucible where competing ideas of war and peace interacted in complex ways. These interactions generated vibrant debates—religious, intellectual, political, and cultural—between supporters of the war who comprised a majority, and a vocal minority of critics associated with the British peace movement, of which the Peace Society and members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were an integral part. These highly interactive debates cut across Victorian society, and were framed by the principles of the peace movement and the idea of ‘just war’. They were also mediated through religious, historical, cultural, and ideological categories that Victorians used to make sense of the world around them. My thesis is distinctive in developing a wide contextual perspective, and in placing diverse commentators—churchmen, dissenters, historians, parliamentarians, poets, writers, artists, and others—within a common argumentative framework. The result is an account that reconstructs a richer and more holistic picture of ideas and debates about a war which marked a defining moment in the Victorian era. The thesis thus builds a new story of the Crimean War as a crucial chapter in British intellectual and cultural history.
I presented papers at academic conferences in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Since September 2021, I have been working as an Outreach tutor at Oxford’s Faculty of History. I was Balliol College's Junior Dean between September 2021 and August 2022; a History tutor of Opportunity Oxford (Sept. 2022); a Postgraduate tutor for Pembroke College's OxNet Programme (Summer 2022); a Study Skills tutor and History tutor for Lincoln College's Study Days (Summer 2022); and a Graduate Outreach tutor at Balliol College (2021, 2022). I am also an Access Associate at St John's College, Oxford.
Between January and June 2021, I was a Junior Teaching Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum. I also taught classes and tutorials for the second-year undergraduate Further Subject 'Intellect and Culture in Victorian Britain'. I am currently teaching an undergraduate paper in Modern British History at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
You can follow me on Twitter: @petros_spanou