You know the classic cocaine addiction story, where the person takes it again and again and again to try to match the original, amazing high? My PhD boards seem to follow the same pattern. My first board went really well, and I thought, ‘hey, boards aren’t so bad, people sit around and say nice stuff to me!’. Unfortunately, my second and third boards didn’t live up to that standard, and I don’t think I’ll ever have a board that good again. This week’s board was so disappointing that I’m going to dread them in the future. My emotional trajectory during and since the board on Tuesday hasn’t been unlike the five stages of grief, in fact.
It’s getting towards that time of year when people start putting PhD applications together, and thinking about how they’re going to get the money to do a PhD. When I applied two years ago, you needed an offer of a PhD place to apply for funding, and deadlines for this varied from end of January and end of March, and I doubt this has changed much. Applications mean extra research and writing and revising a proposal several times over, so I would definitely recommend starting around now and making the most of the Christmas break to make your application perfect. I got AHRC funding, which is ridiculously competitive, so hopefully my advice is worth something!
I read a thesis abstract I’d written about a year ago, the other day, and was amazed by how different it was to what my plans are now. Sure, there are basic things that have stayed the same, but I’ve also been required to read a few things I’d never have expected to for this thesis.
This week, I’ve spent a bit of time puzzling over putting together an abstract for a conference, where I want to talk about only children’s experiences of schooling, particularly starting school and going to boarding school, as well as the more atypical experiences of starting school late or being educated at home for long periods of time. I already wrote about boarding school experiences a few weeks back, and today I’m going to write about a few good and bad experiences of starting school from my twentieth-century only-child autobiography collection. This will hopefully help me with my abstract a bit without giving away too much of my talk! The main issue I’ve had has been filling in the blanks in the sentence ‘___ and ___ have written about experiences of schooling, and I want to build on this by looking specifically about only children’s experiences.’ Either I’m overlooking a whole body of scholarship, or nobody has done substantial research on how children felt about their education. I guess if that really is the case, I can say ‘most scholarship about history of education has focussed on policies and implementation, and while children’s experiences of school have featured in edited collections of autobiographies and oral histories.’ And maybe have an idea for a postdoc proposal.
Podcasts from the Centre for Studies of Home are up. You can listen to me witter on with my horrible recorded voice for 17 minutes or listen to nicer-sounding speakers!
A bit of a ruckus has arisen of late about what academics wear, with articles such as this and this getting a lot of attention. So naturally, I started thinking more about what I wear, and whether there seem to be dress codes, and whether or not other people are thinking maybe a little too much about this issue.
On Tuesday 21st October, I went to the aforementioned conference at the Geffrye Museum. A very nice day it was too - so good to come into contact with new people, and hear about subjects I’d never even dreamed about!
On Tuesday 14th October I went to Mary Clare Martin’s talk on her upcoming work on the role of illness in modern British childhood. I won’t go into huge detail about everything she said because I don’t want to gie massive spoilers for her future books, but there were a few things that particularly stood out to me.
This week has mainly been about two things: preparing a conference paper I’m giving, and teaching. I’ve also managed to squeeze in a little work on my board paper (which looks to be better than the last one, but we’ll see) but there has been no time for reading autobiographies lately - and I do hear that in the academic life, it can be hard to find time for actual research sometimes!
It’s freshers’ week again. That means I’m now officially a second-year PhD student! So it seems like a good time to review what I’ve achieved this year and what I hope to achieve next year.