Collaboration and digital engagement

C21 Scholar logoI’m now able to blog ‘officially’ about a new collaborative skills development project I have been working on for many months. I’ve referred to it a few times on this blog, but, when the application went to the AHRC in September I didn’t want to tempt fate by talking about it. When we received funding I didn’t want to shout about it until there was something to show. Now, there is something to show so I should just get on with it.

The C21 Scholar: Digital Engagement in the Arts and Humanities is my new pet project. Developed and managed by a collaborative team of like-minded postgraduate and early career researchers, this project will help others like us to explore how we can use the internet to communicate our research in engaging ways with the wider world.

Registration is now open for our first event which will be held here in Oxford in June. ‘Transforming Postgraduate Research: Engaging with the Digital World’ is a one day training event with keynotes from Professor Martin Weller and Professor Sarah Churchwell, as well as interactive workshops and examples of best practice from across the sector.

Our website will also form a hub for resources relating to digital humanities, and since I built it, I think it is well worth a visit!

c21 scholar website


Welcome to the ‘Big Society’

In the time that I’ve managed to tear myself from the Guardian live blog on the Arts Council funding decisions (and the emotional rollercoaster that is the #artsfunding tag on Twitter) I’ve made some headway with the sample of writing for transfer.

The National Portfolio decisions are being portrayed as winners and losers, but ultimately these decisions mean that more broadly we will all be worse off for at least the next three years. One of the organisations I’m a Trustee of has received bad news today, despite valiant work. Others for which I work on a freelance basis have maintained and even in some cases increased on their funding bids. Today has been a game-changing day, that is for sure.

Of course, cuts will also have an incredible impact on how the higher education sector develops in the coming years. The other big funding story in my little world was the accusation by The Obersver at the weekend that the AHRC are to prioritise research into the Big Society. The AHRC are denying it though. I’m starting to wish I’d just become a banker.

More positively, in the short term, I’m now not far off 3/4 of this work done. Funny how re-thinking the introduction in a notebook at midnight can change the pace so drastically. An article from The Thesis Whisperer on ‘How to write 1000 words a day (and not go bat shit crazy)‘ is timely this week – although it might be too late on the bat shit crazy front.

7021 / 10000 words. 70% done!

‘Dispatch from Aberystwyth’

‘This spying trip so far a great success’

Gwyneth Lewis, ‘Welsh Espionage III, Dispatch from Aberystwyth’, Chaotic Angels, p. 42.

I’m currently in the North Reading Room of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth as part of my AHRC-funded study visit. The building itself is mighty imposing, revealed behind a field of sheep after a steep climb.

While I’m here I’m using the periodicals that have articles and book reviews about Lewis’ work and interviews with her. There are also some multimedia materials (often recorded off BBC Wales, where Lewis worked) and books on more general poetic and Welsh themes.

Some of the reading has already proved useful – especially for the remaining two chapters. One article too offered a reading of ‘Welsh Espionage V’ that is much more convincing than anything else I’ve read so far, and which connects with the reading I’ve already completed in my first chapter. In the re-draft I’ll be sure to make reference to it.

The fish and chips aren’t bad either.

‘I know too little and still feel too much

to be able to make a full report.

Project needs more research. Will keep in touch.’

Gwyneth Lewis, ‘Welsh Espionage III, Dispatch from Aberystwyth’, Chaotic Angels, p. 42.

Seagulls in Aberystwyth
Seagulls in Aberystwyth


5140 / 20000 words. 26% done!

I like that I am now over 1/4 done (although I know this is only in terms of words, not time spent redrafting and tweaking). I will feel less full of bluster and bull in my supervision tomorrow nonetheless.

Today I tried Anti-Social for Mac, an application that you turn on to block access to social networking sites that may prove a tempting distraction for a certain length of time. I like this more than Freedom, which blocks all internet use (and, em, I couldn’t work without googling the odd thing).

Other good news today is that the AHRC has approved my application for study visit funding. This means I’ll be visiting the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in early August to make use of the materials I can’t get hold of elsewhere. It will also be a break from my desk.

‘I know too little and still feel too much
to be able to make a full report.
Project needs more research. Will keep in touch.’
[Gwyneth Lewis, ‘Welsh Espionage III, Dispatch from Aberystwyth’, Parables & Faxes

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