Friday, 21 December 2012

Adventures into Academia

This post might be a little over due, but I decided a couple of weeks ago to apply for a PhD, which I had been thinking about for a while, but hadn’t really settled on a research project, and was a little daunted by another 3 years in Academia. However I have bitten the bullet as it where and drafted (and redrafted, and re-redrafted) a research proposal, knocked out a personal statement, and sent more emails than I think I’ve ever sent before in my life asking people if they would be at all interested in supervising my crazy little brain child.

Of course, I have left the whole process very much to the last minute, it seemed to get squeezed out by masters work, and trips to Birmingham and essays and flu season and all those other things that people are expected to do in order to stay fairly functioning members of society (you know – laundry, showering, sleeping, doing dishes, admitting that Christmas is coming up…). Nevertheless the application deadlines are marching along and I will probably need to submit my applications this week.

I’ve actually had a fairly positive response, particularly considering the slightly off the wall nature of the project, and the fact that not many academics (read no one at all) in the UK appears to be working on my area of research. I’ve heard back from people in Newcastle and Leeds, and my current supervisors at York have suggested I stay on here. I change my mind about what I want to do approximately every 30 seconds. While I would love to go somewhere new, particularly Newcastle since I would be working with leaders in the field, I also really really love York, both the city, and the supervisors I would be working with.

I’ve been trying to decide the best way to explain my proposal to people with little or no interest in the field, so far the best explanation I can come up with is that I want to look at short stories by Vietnamese and Holocaust writers and think about how grief, memory and trauma are dealt with within these stories. Which should be super interesting, but no one really seems to be working on Vietnamese stories in English Departments in the UK and so it’s hard to find an appropriate supervisor, Leeds even shunted me across to the French department.

I’m not really all too sure how successful my PhD applications will be, not only because of the whole no one is looking at this stuff thing, but also because as I said earlier I haven’t had a great deal of time to spend on developing my ideas because of the fact that masters year is INSANELY busy. But I’ve actually strangely enjoyed doing it, and I’m just considering it as my first foray into the big crazy world of academia. Here’s hoping I don’t get too lost…

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