Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | April 13, 2018
When I began my academic career, as a student on a Masters degree by research, conferences seemed both exciting and daunting. They were exciting because, as an unexperienced researcher, the prospect of being in a space with people who had been doing research for years, exchanging ideas, and being treated seriously as a researcher, was extremely appealing. They were daunting because of the competitive aspect that they represented— an opportunity to share research and thoughts, and an opportunity for those with more knowledge and experience to point out the flaws therein. They would involve inherently awkward situations where you would be forced to make small talk with someone whom, in all likelihood, you shared nothing in common with, else you would stand in the corner of a crowded room, staring at your phone screen. Nevertheless, they were something to be endured because they were a necessity on the curriculum vitae of any aspiring academic, and a space to make contact with people who might be valuable to your professional network.
Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | April 13, 2018
Robyn Pritzker | 7 August 2017.
As a humanities researcher (and as a human), I am often reminded about the importance of caring: empathy, sympathy, and general sensitivity to my environment are some of the important values that supposedly distinguish the humanist from their scientific or otherwise quantitative counterparts. As humanists, we study culture, literature, language, and other facets of the world expected to inspire feeling or indicate meaning (freedom, beauty, truth, and love, even)! Working on a long-term independent project like a thesis, we are absorbed by our research, or we absorb it, depending on the day.
Scheherazade Khan | 10th July 2017.
The humanities in higher education are often looked down upon as a wasted pursuit. In the presence of doctors, engineers, scientists, policy makers and accountants, the humanities can be considered rather pointless. Most students in the arts are well accustomed to jokes regarding poor employment opportunities in our fields. Though these comments may hint at the difficult reality of job searching for those in the arts, generally humanities students have learnt to laugh along. We understand and have accepted that we did not choose this field for its financial potential but for a passion we felt determined to follow and explore.
Maygan Eugenie Forbes | 18 April 2017
I recently came across an article on Forbes.com that told the story of a contributor, Neil Patel, who has deep regrets over pursuing his degree. In this article Patel writes: “Don’t listen to them! It’s not worth it…college was a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of money, and a waste of potential.” He then goes on to give a small description of his degree, and his early ambition to become an entrepreneur (which, according to Patel, is a job title that does not require a degree). He then proceeds to list a set of substantial degrees that he believes to be worth the time, energy, and money of a degree. For the sake of my word count I won’t write out the list, but I can tell you now, as a Film Studies MSc student, I don’t make the grade according to Patel. Everybody’s different but without a doubt, every degree counts. But is the question here less about the value of a degree and more about a void in cultural experience? Are we missing out on great wonders, wasting our limited time by being a servant to educational institutions, regardless of what degree we are pursuing?
Robyn Pritzker | 6 March 2017
Whether we’re fully-funded, partially-funded, or simply wishing our way through monthly rent payments, most research students worry about money. If your fees are covered and you have a stipend, you’ll likely still be worrying about where to get a grant to go to a conference. If you have a hefty student loan and help from your parents, you’ll be wondering how you’re going to afford to replace your computer, which is six years old and can’t run any software you need for your project. Perhaps you have plenty of funds for yourself, but you need to help support your partner, your child, your parents, or someone else. Concern about how to pay the bills and make it from day to day are hardly unique to graduate students, but we are often pressured by very specific regulations and limitations about when and how we are able to be compensated for the work we do.
Scheherazade Khan | 20th February 2017.
TW: assault and mental illness.
What is it like to come across descriptions of trauma and mental health in academia as a survivor of assault? I’ve been thinking about my experience regarding this a lot recently. The University of Edinburgh held this year’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Week the first week of February, which coincided with the sixth anniversary of my assault, an event that initiated my own awareness of my mental health.
June 13, 2016 | Matthew Tibble
I learnt my first piece of Latin without knowing it was Latin. I was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Hermione cast the spell ‘oculus reparo’, a slightly tenuous bit of Latin that should probably have been speculum reparo (I repair the looking glass). At the time, however, all I heard was fantastic wizardry.
April 18, 2016 | Matthew Tibble.
A recent post on the brand-new SGSAH blog highlights a growing trend amongst those seeking to acquire ‘transferable skills’, namely, finding the component parts of your everyday activities in order to apply them in new fields and make them applicable to whatever jobs you apply for. As the piece points out, correctly, transferable skills are now essential criteria for success on the increasingly diverse job market. But this transferable skills trend also encourages a tendency to forget that, at best, these skills are supplementary to targeted, job-specific knowledge or experience.
November 10, 2015 | Anahit Behrooz.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”– Dr Seuss.
Read any review of the Western canon and the absence of one particular genre becomes immediately obvious. Despite being one of the most dynamic and commercially successful genres in literature, fantasy is rarely taken seriously in the academic world. Iconic works such as C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are frequently swept aside in favour of ‘serious’ works which are considered more suitable for literary, artistic and socio-political analysis. Why, however, does this tension between fantastic and ‘high-brow’ literature even exist?
October 31, 2015 | Sarah Hertz.
Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a grad school dropout. Well, not really — I’m actually a graduate of the University of Cambridge who decided not to pursue a PhD. Halfway through my Master’s in Renaissance literature, it began to dawn on me that life exists outside of academia. To the horror of my mentors as well as my former self, I developed a taste for tiaras, hip hop, and climbing the roofs of seventeenth-century colleges. Indeed, my year at Cambridge was primarily one of personal as opposed to intellectual growth.