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Spotlight on Arendse Lund

16 April 2018

Arendse Lund

This week the spotlight is on Arendse Lund, Student Engager Coordinator, UCL Museums. 

What is your role and what does it involve?

I’m the Coordinator for the Student Engagers in the UCL Museums. I lead a team of talented, interdisciplinary PhD students in the Grant Museum of Zoology, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, and the UCL Art Museum where we talk to visitors about the collections, our PhD research, and life at UCL. All of the Student Engagers are current postgraduate research students at UCL. We engage visitors in conversation and communicate the value of our research while receiving on-the-spot feedback. This opens an important avenue of dialogue, connects our research with the museums, and inspires new insights into our work.

As well as organising the work of the team, I engage with visitors in the museums myself. While each of the UCL Museums is different, they all touch on aspects of my own studies. My research on the Middle Ages allows me to see links between the Ancient Egyptian understanding of law, as represented in the Petrie collection, and medieval European concepts of law. I talk to visitors in the Grant Museum about how animals such as goats, deer, and even seals, could be used in bookbinding. In the UCL Art Museum, I often talk with visitors about how the laws of England are still printed and stored on vellum, and not paper—even after all these years.

I’m especially thrilled when museum visitors have a unique insight to what I work on. I once met a leather worker in the Grant Museum who was eager to compare modern leatherworking practices to medieval ones. We both walked away having learned something.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I’ve been at UCL for 2.5 years, first as an MA student in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program in the History Department, and now as a PhD student in the English Department. My doctoral dissertation, “Law as Literature in the Vernacular Codes of Anglo-Saxon England,” argues for the development of legal language specific to Old English. I’ve been a Student Engager now for almost two years — and loved every moment of it!

Previously I was the Writer in Residence at Elsewhere Studios in Colorado, USA.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I am immensely proud of our wonderful team blog where we post weekly about our research and our experiences talking with museum visitors. Each team member has a different approach and one of the pieces has even been featured on Buzzfeed.

Everyone should go read our blog!

Tell us about a project you have recently worked on.

I organised a public engagement event during March in the UCL Art Museum titled “What Do You Need to Create a Justice System?” where I joined two brilliant PhD students in discussing the development of “justice” through three pivotal time periods.

This type of interdisciplinary event is a natural outcome from working with a team of PhD students from across UCL whose research is all ground breaking (sometimes literally, as many archaeology students join our ranks).

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

My favourite album is I Can Spin A Rainbow by Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel. If you ever get a change to see her perform—go! It’s a treat.

Kung Fu Hustle is an over the top martial arts comedy, which is even better than Shaolin Soccer, and definitely worth watching.

Although I don’t tend to pick novels up a second time, I find myself consistently rereading Diana Wynne Jones. Dogsbody — where Sirius, the Dog Star, is sentenced to a life as a dog on Earth — simply gets better with every reading.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What do you get if you type ‘hosanna’ into every cell of a spreadsheet?

(Answer: Hosanna in excel-sheets.)

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

I would love to sit down and have dinner with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. You know conversation would be lively!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Write. Write now and keep writing.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I used to be a competitive ballroom dancer.

What is your favourite place?

Any independent bookstore! There’s a special kind of magic that they exude and you can find the most remarkable books in their collections.