Month: February 2015

When distractions can turn into motivation

The top 5 #phdemotions.

It is telling that I first read this title as Ph Demotions.

Actually, this morning, I’m not demotivated. I gave myself the promise of an afternoon off writing fun fictional things if I can squeeze out the right amount of words and finish the day’s allotted chunk of translation. I am, therefore, motivated.

But I’m doing The Thing again. One Of The Things, I should say, because there are a few. This Thing is the one where I don’t want to deal with all the hard stuff in the middle of my text, so I have retreated to writing the body of text around it. However, this has reminded me of the text-based study that I actually have no idea about the theory surrounding text-based research. Is it literary criticism? Is it intellectual history? I don’t know, which has resulted in a bout of Obsessive Article Collecting (OAC). This is an excellent name for a common affliction. I have downloaded tens of articles on literary theory. Most of them are quite dated, which says a lot about what happens to theory: buzzwords do indeed fall out of fashion. ‘Intellectual history’ seems to be a term that has drifted into disuse. ‘Literary criticism’ articles seem firmly embedded in the explosion of literature studies in the 1960s and 70s (back when the humanities had funding). Multidisciplinarianism has caused as many problems as it has solved, which you can pretty much guess from just looking at the word itself. It’s an aggravating word.

Anyway, I still don’t have PhDemotions, because I’m not up to the stage of a PhD yet. But I did have a meeting with my supervisor yesterday, when she pointed out this MPhil of mine, if I do it right, is going to be the foundation of my academic career.

No pressure.

Guess I should stop collecting articles and get back into the meat of the thesis sandwich. If I fill my quota I can go write meaningless drivel in the comfort of MY BED.


I can do this.

A post to teach all of us lone wolves a lesson

Deadlines schmeadlines.

Lone wolf syndrome is, I suspect, a chronic affliction of higher degree students, but…worse again in the humanities. The humanities is a strange place; it is less regulated and formalised than most other areas of study, and as such it can be a wonderful and liberating place to be.

On the other hand, as all higher degree research students will know, research can be miserable and lonely, and as anyone who chose to do their research in the humanities may understand, sometimes the lack of rigid disciplinary structures and the stretch of possibility is so freeing that you just end up balking at the endless possibilities, curling up in a ball, and doing what feels like exactly fuck-all day after day.

The thing is, structure is important.

This is why deadlines are necessary and good.

I may rail against them, but the fact is I need them.

This is why I deeply envy my girlfriend, who is currently doing a PhD in psychology. She lives in the land of science. There, they were given a book on how to complete their research degree, and are expected to follow it to the letter. Here, in the humanities, there was no book. I recently had to line up the last milestone in my degree for later in the year, and wrote to admin asking if I was correct in thinking that it should be completed three months before the submission on my thesis, which was true as far as different parts of the university website could tell me. I was told that it was just a guideline, and I could set it for whenever I wanted.

This puts the onus on me to get shit done, and I will, but it’s just that little bit more difficult.

There’s definitely something to be said for external accountability.