Final Report on My Visiting Scholarship for Master’s Students, by Stephanie Bode

The German Historical Institute in Paris (GHI) awards visiting scholarships to selected master’s students in order to give them a better insight into central aspects of the academic career. Stephanie Bode has been awarded such a visiting scholarship and following is her report on her stay at the GHI.

Working title of the MA-thesis: “Security Strategies in Court Society. Short- and Long-Term Factional Politics During the Late Reign of Louis XIV”. Stephanie Bode (Marburg University)

Image: Le roy accepte le testament du feu roy catholique Charles II. et déclare.., Bibliothèque nationale de France, RESERVE FOL-QB-201 (75), Public Domain

The Student-in-Residence-Program offers students who consider applying for a PhD the opportunity to deepen and broaden their research experience. Visiting fellows are actively involved in one of the research groups at the GHI while still being allowed to work on their own research projects. The participation in the research group “Practices of Power and Interpersonal Relationships at Dynastic Centres (1500–1800)” meant that I attended team meetings and the reading group, both of which gave me the opportunity to discuss relevant research questions with experienced researchers and I greatly benefited from this exchange. As my own research topic was closely linked to the group’s research interests, I got very helpful advice for my own project. As well as being able to exchange thoughts and ideas, I was allowed to gain an excellent insight into the research process in general. For instance, I gained some insight into how to maximize the potential of a chosen research project, by using different methodologies. Regular meetings with Pascal Firges, head of the research group, gave me new inspiration and encouragement.

Furthermore, I very much appreciated learning more about various research topics in the field of historical scholarship. Although all the other projects within the research group were related to my own field of research in some way, they were an impressive testimony to the variety and complexity of research in general.

The Visiting Scholarship provided another great opportunity: I was allowed to work on my master’s thesis. Of course, a master’s thesis can hardly be compared to a PhD. However, during these three months at GHI, I was able to deepen and broaden my insight into the field of academic research. For me, this was an excellent opportunity to find out what would await me if I decided to apply for a PhD.

The impact of the access to the GHI library as well as to the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) on my research cannot be overstated. Marburg University’s library would clearly not have provided as many sources for my topic. Even more important than the access to research literature was the access to the stock of primary sources at the BnF. I was able to examine multiple correspondences at the Richelieu and Arsenal libraries, which proved to be of great value for my thesis as they revealed the courtiers’ factional politics.

Besides the very useful results I received from the sources at the BnF, I appreciated the fact that I could analyze primary sources on my own for the very first time – I no longer worked as a student assistant but as an independent historian. Working on these collections of historical documents gave me the opportunity to get more familiar with primary sources before beginning a PhD.

This experience has made it easier for me to consider an academic career in the long run. Being familiar with the administrative procedures at the BnF makes me feel much more confident for a potential doctorate. I am now able to assess what my work might look like, should I choose to pursue this career. While talking with other PhD candidates, I realized that many of them would have appreciated an opportunity like this before beginning their doctorate.

In sum, all my expectations of the program have been met. I had a fantastic time at the GHI, and participating in  the research group “Practices of Power and Interpersonal Relationships at Dynastic Centres (1500–1800)” for a three-month period proved very valuable for my research.

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