The geographers in the cupboard: narrating the history of geography using undergraduate dissertations

Bruinsma, M. (2021) The geographers in the cupboard: narrating the history of geography using undergraduate dissertations. Geography Compass, 53(1), pp. 67-75. (doi: 10.1111/area.12653)

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This paper explores the possibilities of examining undergraduate dissertations as sources. By means of archival research on a collection of geography undergraduate dissertations at the University of Glasgow, comprising over 2,600 dissertations from 1954 to 2014, this paper argues for the epistemological value of both these ‘small’ knowledge productions and the experiences of becoming‐a‐geographer for studying the history of geography. A sustained study of the collection reveals that the dissertations comprise three kinds of sources: intellectual sources, seeing the dissertations as original pieces of academic research; cultural sources, examining the role of this ‘rites of passage’ in becoming a geographer; and lastly, as social sources, whereby the dissertations illuminate a diverse, personal network within and beyond the university. The vastness of the archival collection of undergraduate geography dissertations and the opportunities offered for a longitudinal examining of shifts within them over the years, revealing notable overall trends and traditions, ultimately discloses their own importance as exciting and striking original knowledge productions.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bruinsma, Mette
Authors: Bruinsma, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Geography Compass
ISSN (Online):1749-8198
Published Online:12 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Author
First Published:First published in Area 53(1): 67-75
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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