Aidan Mooney – Final Reflection

What have been the major obstacles you have faced in putting a research project together?

My initial obstacle was deciding on a subject for this project. I had a few ideas but after choosing to focus on nationalism in nineteenth century Europe I still had a difficult time narrowing this down into specific research questions. From there I was faced with sorting through the huge amounts of literature that have been produced on nationalism, both history and theory. Additionally, being stuck with online only resources meant some material was not available to me.

What strategies have you adopted to overcome these obstacles?

To overcome these problems, I have had to become better at quickly deciding what is or is not relevant to my project when reading. To be able to do so I have had to improve my critical reading. I have changed approach when using online search tools to narrow results and find more relevant or specific material and used the bibliographies of relevant texts as a means of finding new ones. Discussions with my supervisor from an early stage were also helpful.

What has this taught you about approaching your dissertation?

The need to engage in a clear methodology is an important aspect that I had never really considered before but now know is essential. I know that I will have to undertake large amounts of background reading to get to grips with such a wide topic and so am better prepared for that. The reality of having to start this project over the summer is now also clear.

 Which aspects of the 9X6 module have been the most useful in helping you get your project ready to start?

Having conversations with a supervisor from an early stage was particularly helpful. Examples of assessments given in seminars, particularly the literature review and the reading from that week, meant we had a clearer idea of what was expected of us. Finally, I think carrying out the literature review allowed me to get a better grip on my topic area and was something I found very useful.

Annotated Bibliography – Aidan Mooney

I have only a general idea of a topic for my dissertation and have not yet narrowed my focus so have looked at general works on both the development of nationalism as an ideology and nationalist movements in 19th century Europe. I used key search terms like ‘nationalism’, ‘nation’, ‘origins of…’, ‘19th/nineteenth century’ etc. to find sources from JSTOR, Periodical Archives Online, Europeana, and Stirling Uni’s own library catalogue.


Jackson Preece, Jennifer. “Origins of ‘Nations’: Contested Beginnings, Contested Futures.” In The Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict, edited by Karl Cordell & Stefan Wollf, 15-24. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016.

Found in the library catalogue. A very useful article on the ongoing debates surrounding nationalism, the origin of nations, and nationalist movements. It introduces the most influential thinkers on these topics; and discusses various theories of nationalism and their applications in depth. It led me to plenty of other secondary sources that I think will be necessary reading.


Haas, Ernst B. “What Is Nationalism and Why Should We Study It?” International Organization 40, 3 (1986): 707-44.

Found using JSTOR’s search function. A review article of four seminal texts on nationalist theory that also asks why it is important to study nationalism. Dense, but explores many of the ways in which the study of nationalism can be approached. Hass relays his own theory of nationalist formation at the end, going into some depth on various factors that affected nationalist sentiment and movements.


Connelly, John. Chapter 4: Nationality Struggles: From Idea to Movement. In From Peoples Into Nations: A History of Eastern Europe. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2020.

This chapter is a good example of the type of secondary sources relevant to a historical study of a particular nationalist movement. It focuses on the development of Hungarian and Czech nationalist sentiment into cohesive political movements from the early 19th c. onwards, and explores what factors affected this change. It is a recent work and therefore useful for finding other secondary sources in its bibliography.


Smith, Anthony D. “Reading History: Ethnic Identity and Nationalism.” History Today 33, 10 (1983): 47-50.

Using key terms and searching specifically within ‘history’ on the Periodicals Archive Online search function led me to this article by Anthony Smith who is an influential thinker on the development of nationalism. He provides insight into one school of thought on the origins of nations, discussing how ethnic identity provides the basis for modern nationalist movements that would emerge in the 19th century. Smith tackles some of the historiography that he regards as important providing plenty of suggestions for further reading.


Deutsche Zeitung (March 31st, 1873). Europeana Newspaper Archive

Searching Europeana from the Library Subject Guide I found this newspaper archive which contains papers from across Europe stretching back to the 18th century. I think newspapers are a particularly good primary source for examining thinking of the time, as they both reflected and shaped contemporary views. Even if they do not necessarily speak for their readers, they do allow us to understand what politics were discussed in the public sphere, particularly pertinent to the history of nationalist movements. For instance, the above source is an Austrian establishment newspaper from 1873 discussing the Imperial monarchy’s relationship to Polish and Czech nationalist sentiment. It provides insight into how these movements were viewed by the Austrian government through what sort of language was used when describing them. It is necessary to examine sources from not just nationalist movements themselves but those in opposition to them, and the archives’ range of papers helps balance any study by providing an array of viewpoints. This source also exemplified to me the difficulties of examining primary sources through translation, something which I had not given much thought to.


Old Maps Online.
The Library Subject Guides led me to this resource. I found it useful for providing a visual representation of circumstances at various points in the 19th century. I think maps can be a valuable primary resource as they reflect historical conceptions of what Europe was made up of, usually in either ethnic terms or by political control. Some of these maps show how borders across Europe changed overtime, reflecting contemporary political circumstances. Others demonstrate how conceptions of the ways these areas are identified evolved throughout the century, whether through contemporary events or by a change in thinking.

Aidan Mooney Introduction

Hi everyone, I’m Aidan and I live in Edinburgh. I am not sure what topic I’d like to do for my dissertation, I am leaning towards something to do with the growth of nationalism in Europe in the 19th/early 20th century. Looks like some folk have a clearer idea than others but hopefully this module will help me make up my mind.

As for online learning, pre-pandemic I was commuting to Stirling from Edinburgh so working from home suited me quite well. The novelty has definitely worn off though and I’d prefer to be back on campus. Looking forward to getting started next week!