Monday, 6 August 2018

PhD-Ness Part 1 - as in a new hopefully weekly series of posts - Supervision-Ness, Experimenting and Reflexive Academic Writing...

Works in progress balanced on top of a light box - matte medium image transfers of 35mm film image of the Chapel at St George;s Field taken with a lomo fish eye lens camera  - trying out different materials (from l-r off white muslin, white muslin, light grey poly cotton) to see which takes and shows off the image best - am currently leaning towards the off white muslin as I like the air of 'oldy worldy' it gives off. I also asked chums on Farcebook and the Twitter and of those who replied most agreed with me - one said it was because it makes the sun shining through the columns look more sunshine-like.  I plan next to try making these again either on material soaked in graveyard dirt or with a wash of graveyard dirt or dried powdered flowers. I also want to make bigger versions - these are only 10 centimetres across. 

No post it note this time as the one I have just says 'getting back to work' and nothing else. I haven't been working very much as I a) needed a considerable rest after my viva and b) I have also been stretching out the celebrations of a significant birthday with a zero. The celebrations have included all manner of loveliness ranging from going to see Dusty Springfield The Musical at The Lowry - I really enjoyed it and have had a bit of a Dusty earworm since, staying at Lindeth Tower where my beloved Elizabeth Gaskell used to holiday and write (see previous blog post) and amongst many lovely gifts being given a wonderful medium format camera by my husband, it's the kind with a viewfinder you hold up to your eye as opposed to look down into and I am really looking forward to loading it up and taking some pictures with it.

I did go back to work a bit last week - I went over to Huddersfield for a meeting with my tutor in which we discussed the feedback from the external examiners at my viva and what steps to take next - in terms of reading and in terms of writing. One of the things she suggested was to work on reflexive academic writing and one way to do that is by updating this blog at least once if not twice a week and properly referencing it as I go along. I'm definitely keen to do this as at the moment referencing in particular is not an automatic habit and I have to write with the uni leaflet 'a quick guide to referencing' by my side. So I'm definitely going to try and do that. I'm not sure if I will keep these more frequent posts public though, I might do private ones and just one public one a month instead. I haven't decided that yet though. I find I write differently about things depending on whether something is public or private. The aim of this more regular writing is twofold - increase my skill as a reflexive academic writer and to see if any patterns start emerging.

But one thing I might do is to try and write things in a more standard way each time - with the same headings. Throughout my Masters I used my blog as my research journal and I wrote it once a week (usually on a Monday) using the notes/reflections/ideas I'd jotted on a pad kept in front of the computer in my workroom. That was a good habit at the time but I think I need to refine it with categories/subheadings - and maybe ones like these:
Programmes/Films Watched
Books Read
Pictures Taken/Pieces of Artwork Made
Exhibitions Attended
I'm open to suggestions for others....

Programmes/Films watched: in the last week it's been - Before Stonewall, Schiller (1985) - a documentary made in the USA which interviewed lesbians and gay men about what life was like for them before the Stonewall Riot in New York which lasted from June 28th 1969-July 1st 1969. It was a mix of people talking about their experiences as well as news footage from the time. Almost all the contributors mentioned how being in the military during WW2 had enabled them to feel less lonely as they met other people like themselves, some mentioned books and how they had realised they weren't the only one as characters in books were also feeling the same way. I found it heartening and fascinating but I was also struggling to stay awake to watch it because I was really tired and the heat in the Hyde Park Picture House was making me really drowsy. I could do with seeing it again really.

I've also seen Psycho, Hitchcock (1960) which was a real treat to see on the big screen at the air conditioned Pictureville in Bradford. I've watched Psycho a few times but this was the first time on a big screen and with a proper big sound system, which made me realise that it isn't just the wonder of Bernard Hermann's intense score that make it such a powerful film but also other elements of the soundtrack like the sound of water - which is used not just in the shower sequence but also the rain preceeding it which leads her to the Bates Motel in the first place but also the sound of the swamp as it swallows up her car. I am also rather fond of Anthony Perkins so it was especially lovely to see him on a big screen. Then for some light relief we watched The Producers, Brooks (1967) another film I have seen before but not on a big screen. It was a delight to see Gene Wilder's face writ large as he evolves from honest accountant into drunk swindler and theatre impressario.

Books Read
I must be honest I've been struggling to concentrate because of the heat and also because my attention span is of a wandering kind unless I get completely absorbed by what I'm reading. I found the biography of Alexander McQueen by Andrew Wilson 'Blood Beneath The Skin' (2015) really interesting, as well as saddening. It was very much a reportage of what people had said to about McQueen in interviews with the author or from interviews as opposed to in depth analysis of either the clothes he made or the runway shows he created but nevertheless I found it engrossing. I am very much on a McQueen kick at the moment, having seen the recent  documentary McQueen(Ettedgui 2018) about him and his work at the Hyde Park. I found the film very powerful and moving as well as inspirational in terms of his designs. I treated myself to a book about his designs for my birthday and it's next on my reading list.

I did try reading an extract from Foucaults 'We 'other Victorians' which I came across in the Cultural Studies Reader (Munns and Rajan 1995) I picked up secondhand for a quid from Brodsworth Hall the other week but I just couldn't get into it, the words either swam on the page or made individual sense but didn't as sentences and after a while instead of forcing myself to continue with it I thought I'd read something I could make sense of so I started The Butchering Art (2018) by Dr Lindsay Fitzharris (a birthday present from my brother) which with its extremely graphic descriptions of bladder stones which made me feel rather faint and very glad to live in age of pain relief,antiseptics, and antibiotics. I asked for that as I thought I'd find it interesting but its subtitle 'Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine' also tells you that is at least related to my studies too. As is the 'Who Do You Think You Are? tie in to the tv series book I picked up from Oxfam in Huddersfield on my way back to Leeds. I'm not especially interested in the stories of celebrities families covered in the book but the tips about how to get the best out of official record sources like birth and death registers are excellent and will come in very handy as I try to trace more details of some of the otherwise unrecorded women buried in St George's Field.

I came back somewhat laden with books from Huddersfield last week, as I also picked up copies of some of the reading suggestions made for me after my viva. I have an awful lot of reading to do over the next few weeks and I've still to get the balance right between reading,doing and writing. I am also very glad that I am continuing with my weight training sessions or else I would not have had the strength to carry home the mighty tomes I picked up. I did feel very stiff the following day though.

One other thing that is going through my mind and fermenting are the concepts of authenticity and proximity. As in why is it so important for people (myself included) to go to or see wherever possible the actual or original place where someone lived or died, or the original piece of work someone made rather than a copy. Mmm lots to think about there - as ever......

Schiller G, Rosenberg R (directors) (1985) Before Stonewall (film documentary) USA First Run Features
Hitchcock A (producer/director) (1960) Psycho (film) USA Shamley Productions
Brooks M (producer/writer) (1967) The Producers (film) USA Embassy Pictures
Wilson A (2015) Alexander McQueen Blood Beneath The Skin UK Simon and Schuster
Munns J, Rajan G (1995) A Cultural Studies Reader - History, Theory Practice UK Longman
Fitzharris L (2018) The Butchering Art London Allen Lane
Waddell D (2004) Who Do You Think You Are? London BBC Books  

No comments:

Post a Comment