A good conference = more train miles…

This week I went to my first British Society of Gerontology conference with the Dementia and Imagination team. I was presenting on my PhD to discuss how mixed methods research is possible (as a practice-led theatre student who dabbled in social science methods for my thesis) and the potential use of therapeutic immersive theatres in other settings such as health and social care.

I thought I might be the odd arts person at this conference, but there was a diverse range of papers and it was a really enjoyable experience, minus the hour I spent queuing for a key to my accommodation and an early morning wake up call from a fire alarm!

I find presenting is a good way to help focus my thoughts. I also enjoy thinking about the topic slightly differently depending on who you are speaking with and how you will communicate to each audience and their knowledge base. 

Since starting in February I have been to (in no particular order): Southampton, Epsom, Birmingham, Bakewell, Manchester, Rhyl (and several places in between) for various reasons. I feel a need to go and plant some seeds to counteract all this travel! 

 

 

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“The best laid plans…” and all that…

I’ve been a bad blogger and not written for ages. You might be thinking I’ve been celebrating but I have to break it to you: it isn’t handed in yet.

Yep, I’m not so chuffed about it either. I’d been hoping to bask in a summer of glory and relief, my first in years but things haven’t quite come together.

I’m doing some re-structuring that is desperately needed just to really shape it up. Sadly, it’s been painful, lots of throwing toys out the pram and the like. Not pretty.

But, slowly but surely it’s getting there, I just wish it would a little faster!

 

In the meantime, my new research post has taken me to some exciting places: Cardiff the week before last for the Connected Communities conference, several journeys for training courses on different aspects of the project and several jaunts to our observation site.

I’ve also met a few people who have had experience of balancing that first ‘proper’ job with finishing up, they’ve given me hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Now which way did that tunnel go?

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‘End of the line?’ Obsessed to perfection.

Inspired by this ‘prompt’ post at the Daily Touch on obsession and things getting stuck in our minds, made me think of my thesis (which I think easily demonstrates the obsession aspect!)

I’m close to the end now, so not much else matters at the moment. I wake up having been ‘sleep editing’ certain paragraphs in my dreams. I’ve attended two different talks on VIVA preparation and spoke with four different friends and collegues in depth about their experiences of the process. I have folders of re-drafts and edits, print off’s too. My study at home is becoming inpassable for stacks of paper and books. I’m panicking about the library being shut from today until the 23rd over Easter. (What if I NEED that ONE book I haven’t got out already?!) I keep finding new things to read, insert, analyse…

… it goes on. All in all, I think I can safely say I’m obsessed by and with it. I wonder what it will be like when it’s submitted?

 

 

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It’s finally getting to the ‘really scary’ phase…

On my computer I have a lovely folder titled ‘Chapters’ and within this folder is several sub-folders with each chapter title. Within each of these folders are several documents: my current ‘draft’ of the chapter and several documents of things to be ‘added in’ or notes from  particular sources. Each chapter document also holds all the reference data used for that particular chapter. 

 

For me, this has been a pretty solid way of keeping organised. But I now have to do the dreaded thing: merge it altogether into one document to print out and start marking out what’s missing and getting the formatting and referencing down. 

 

I think the end in sight panic may be rising…

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‘When Autumn Passed Me By’, the final performance

ImageMy final performance study has been keeping me pretty occupied for the last two months. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes before anyone even thinks about the stage side of it. Ethics reviews done; risk assessments at the ready; props gathered; participant calls, information sheets and questions designed…  In November, during several of my usual evening walks, I became distracted by piles of leaves, usually appearing half an hour later armed with brush and bin bag to collect them. My assistant in this (the other half) took it on board with good cheer. I think he still thinks half of things I do are more than slightly weird. Generally a multitude can be covered by the whispered utterance of ‘art students…’.  

So, this Sunday, shall be aiming to cast 15 people back into Autumn and hopefully, make them reconsider the doom and gloom often associated with the darker months of the year that aren’t Christmas. In the spirit of the bronze tinged season, I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite thoughts on autumn:

 

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” 
― John Donne

 

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” 
― Jane AustenPersuasion

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Plagirism of blogs and academic blogging

This article made me very cross as you can imagine! Lucy Williams in trying to share and disseminate her research more widely, found herself culprit of others plagiarising her material. At the very least one would hope the media outlets linked to these improper uses of someone else’s material, should make amends and rectify the author name given. My blog has remained largely detached and without too much detail about my research. I was always concerned about this, finding the balance between under and over sharing. This article re-iterates my concerns. Any comments? Let me know your thoughts below.

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Moments when you realise ‘you’ve learnt stuff’ (and can theorise on Dr Who!)

I had this feeling twice in the past week, although it is rare usually I assure you! The first crept up whilst presenting my first ever lecture to a group of 2nd year undergraduate students. I’ve run workshops and seminars before but, as this was a first, I had naturally spent far too much time prep-ing myself and concerned over content and interest. It seemed to be going well. At one point in one of many looks up to ensure good eye contact (and that no-one had secretly fallen asleep) I remembered sitting in the same room as an undergraduate listening to someone say a lot of tangible and intangible things and worrying if I was really bright enough to be there. Eight years later, and there I was on the platform this time. Most PhD’s will tell you they suffer feelings of fraudulence, waiting for someone to catch them out. It was nice to, for once, realise that along the way, during those 8 years, some information has stuck, I’m not as quiet as I used to be and I can stand there and rattle off about body modification (the week’s topic), although I hope not too intangibly for the class!

 

The second happened via a Facebook conversation with a friend. He was criticising the recent 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who for going against its own lore (relating to the doctor rupturing the space time continuum if he ever met himself). My friend was questioning how the BBC might have got around this. Here was my reply, with some edits (at this point I had not seen the episode for myself):

Friend: I did like that episode of Dr Who but I thought he wasn’t suppose to be able to meet himself otherwise it rips a hole in that spacey timing wimey thingy.

Me: Did he meet his same physical incarnation or a different one? My assumption being the latter would be their get out clause? 

Friend: why should it matter he is still the same person?

Me: I’m being a bit theoretical here, but, Lacan’s theory of the mirror gaze (along with others) cite the face as holding ‘the essence of self’. So, if he saw his same image, this might cause a fragmentation of this state which usually provides us with a sense of unity and wholeness…. yeah…. apparently I learned stuff in the last 10 years that I can now theorise doctor who…. I’ll stop…

 

If Doctor Who saw the same incarnation of his self, it would be like looking into the mirror of his soul (by way of seeing his face/ self). If he saw a different incarnation of himself, the facial image has changed and as we know with Doctor Who, his personality changes with each ‘regeneration’. Following this, he wouldn’t be looking at his same ‘self’. (For an excellent summary of Lacan’s theory see: Practices of Looking by Sturken and Cartwright).

 

Apart from the fact I’d just managed to theorise a popular television programme, I realised that along the way I have picked up nuggets of information and learning and that, whilst initially looking at literature and theatre, then focussing solely on theatre, I am perhaps through the Visual Culture work I have been doing the last two years, been able to spread out again.

 

I’ll be honest, both moments were scary but felt nice. It was good to not feel fraudulent for a little while. They might be few and far between, but this is the reason we power on. 

 

In line with my previous post, today I’m photographing my day through my tea escapades, I’ll let you know how it turns out soon. 

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