Time for a short update on my academic activities. Just because I can, and because I’ve been doing so many different things over the past few weeks that I need to step back and take a look.
I’ve been busy with training lately. UEA offers a great program for research students; over the past few weeks I’ve learned how to publish my work, how to write more effectively, how to write for a non-academic audience, and how to engage with the media. Very useful, and it’s a great way to meet fellow research students.
I’ve also been working on several abstracts for conferences. I almost hope I won’t get accepted for all of them because if I would the next few months would be very busy and quite expensive. But writing abstracts is a good way to practice your writing skills; they force you to write your ideas down in 250 words or less. Helpful, because academics tend to go on for ages if you ask them what they’re doing (I’m no exception).
Furthermore, there’s the paper on Joyce Carol Oates’ Foxfire which I’ll deliver at The F Word. My mum sent me a guide to Belfast yesterday, so it’s getting very real now. It’ll be my first conference as an active participant, ever. I’ve been to many but just to listen, not to speak.
There’s also an exciting event taking place this summer in Norwich: the PGR showcase. This event offers research students the opportunity to share their research with the general public. Since this has always been a concern of mine (the ivory tower of academia may be a myth but fact is most people don’t know what people like me do all day) it would be a great experience. Well, it’s going to be anyway because I’ll check it out regardless of whether I’ll be chosen to present or not.
And then there’s my main project. I’m currently working on a chapter outline in order to get a basic understanding of what the thesis is going to look like. It’s still a bit vague because I don’t know which books to include yet, and how to connect them to each other. Also, I’ve been working on methodology. There are still some bits and pieces left which I should add at some point but for now I’ll leave them out. I’ll eventually discover where they should go. I’m planning to start writing an analysis of Fight Club today, to check whether my theory works. Started taking notes yesterday but I found it quite hard to create a coherent idea so maybe I’ll just start writing.
Plenty of stuff to do, in other words. And I’m loving it (hence the frequent appearance of words like “great” and “exciting”). I’m still waiting for the moment when I’ll have a proper breakdown and feel like throwing my computer out of the window. According to more experienced colleagues, this moment will come. Eventually.