Steve Hindle is Professor of History at the University of Warwick and is also the Director of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance.
What is your background/experience?
A-levels at Secondary school in Warrington, Lancs. (1983); BA History Cambridge (1986), MA History & Political Science Minnesota (1988); PhD History Cambridge (1992); JRF Girton College Cambridge (1991-93); Lecturer in History, Anglia Polytechnic University (1993-95); Warwick Research Fellow in History, University of Warwick (1995-2001); Senior Lecturer in History, University of Warwick (2001-2004); Professor of History, university of Warwick (2004-); Director of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick (2005-)
Can you walk me through your day to day activities?
The typical working day Monday to Thursday would be:-
8.30am check e-mail from home
8.45am take the kids to school
9.15am arrive in the office; answer mail; check e-mail
10am-12noon: teaching either lectures or seminars
12noon-1pm Office hours, usually consuming sandwich lunch
1pm-2pm: meetings of various kinds
2-4.30pm: seminar teaching and/or admin; usually for Renaissance studies
4.45pm arrive home; deal with e-mail
5.30 pm cook dinner
7pm bath kids and put them to bed
7.30pm start work at home usually spending at least 30 mins on e-mails
8-10pm: teaching preparation; general reading; marking; reading grad students work [I never finish work before 10pm on a week night]
10.01pm: drink first of several glasses of wine
- Friday I try to work from home or to visit an archive or library and I try to finish by 4.30pm
- I never work at weekends unless I absolutely have to, though I generally do an hour or so every other Sunday evening in the alternate weeks when I don’t play five-a-side football
What are the key issues facing your sector?
Low staff morale because of increasing administrative pressure and low pay; depressing sense that students are becoming less important all the time; increasing need to secure external funding to conduct research
How does government legislation affect your job?
By dictating the mechanisms of research funding; by influencing the levels of student intake in the HE sector
What impact has technology had on your job?
It has helped a lot with the provision of online resources, especially catalogues of archives and full texts of early printed books (I now never need to visit the BL since its collection is effectively on my desktop; and I rarely have to make exploratory trips to record offices since I know in advance from online catalogues what is there). E-mail attachments and word processing mean that I can archive my own and my own students work very effectively: I am virtually paper-free in some respects of my job.
The obvious down side is the sheer volume of e-mail: averages 30 messages a day and not many of them are irrelevant and can be ignored
What are the best things and worst things about your job?
Best bits: I love delivering lectures and generally like the opportunity to inspire and challenge students. When a student gives a good presentation in a seminar it’s a real thrill. Working with able graduate students is also great. Getting positive feedback on research output by colleagues I respect is always welcome
Bad bits: gratuitous admin; form-filling; applying for research funding.
Do you have any horror stories?
Delivering a 20 page paper at a major international conference in Switzerland and only discovering at bottom of p.16 that pp.17-19 were missing. Frantic improvisation apparently went unnoticed by audience.
Advice to others looking for a job
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out?
Try to avoid displaying signs of administrative competence.
What do you need to break into this industry/sector?
It’s really extremely competitive to get a foothold: you need energy and ambition (what my PhD supervisor used to call ‘fire in the belly’), patronage networks (high profile academics who believe in you) and a great deal of luck in addition to some measure of ability (though the latter in itself is not a necessary let alone a sufficient skill to break into the sector)
What are your three most useful websites for your work?