PhD in Lit

(18 Posts)
KinkyDorito Wed 11-May-16 16:47:44

Hi all

I did my MA 14 years ago. At the time I was encouraged to stay on and do my PhD (they would have covered fees but no cost of living). I couldn't, so I did a PGCE and I'm a secondary teacher.

Anyway, I really regret not doing it and I'm feeling pretty fed up. I did speak to my supervising lecturer a few years ago who encouraged me to put a proposal together but told me that if I was looking to move into HE, jobs were scarce. At the time, this was my main motivation and so I didn't go ahead.

Now I am more and more frustrated that I have no challenge in my life. The only thing that has ever absorbed me and given me a sense of fulfilment was doing my BA and MA. I'm thinking about pursuing a PhD just because I want to do it.

I just have no idea where to start. I know I'll need to get saving, but in terms of what I want to work on. Do people expand on earlier BA/MA work or pick fresh areas to study for PhD? How do you get up to date in your subject with relatively little access to academic materials? I have no library access for a university and no periodical passwords. I don't want to propose something that has been done to death!

Essentially, I am clueless and would appreciate any advice you can give.

FoggyBottom Sat 21-May-16 12:11:31

You'll need to read around, sand think of the specific area/field. In EngLit, it's usually a chronology thing - 17thC , 18thC etc etc etc.

There's a lot of new work that's been done in the last 2 decades, so it'll take you a bit of time to read around your field. However, the huge range of digitised resources has been a game-changer. I couldn't do my work now without those materials.

But see the thread in here about doing a PhD part-time.

KinkyDorito Sat 21-May-16 12:44:28

Thank you so much Foggy. I've started a huge read and have several trails that I want to explore. thanks

I contacted my old supervisor, but I'm yet to hear back.

I will have a read of the PT thread.

KinkyDorito Sat 21-May-16 13:00:33

Foggy I found your posts on the thread very interesting. I achieved excellent results at BA and MA, I had a prize for best performance at BA (First) and have a Distinction at MA. At the time, my tutors wanted me to do my PhD, but I couldn't afford to continue living as a student as I was a single mother relying on my parents - I had to get a job to enable me to move out. I didn't want them to have to support me for another few years. I do regret not doing it; I really enjoyed my research and, after the reading I've done since posting, I have many areas I'm curious to find out more about. I am absorbed by this: academic research was the only time I've had any 'flow' in my work and I want that back. Plus, I know that I can do it. I'm prepared to drop to PT work if I have to in order to accommodate a PhD, although I'm not sure I want to chase an academic career - I'm fine where I am. I would like the chance to continue to research though.

It's disappointing that I would be at a disadvantage wanting PT.

Still, I'm putting together my proposal - even if it takes a year - and I'm going to try.

FoggyBottom Sun 22-May-16 21:48:42

That's because the PhD is the highest qualification you can earn (there are others, but they are conferred). It is tough & needs to be immersive if you are going to generate substantive new knowledge.

KinkyDorito Mon 23-May-16 07:07:15

If I spent a couple of years digging out my ideas and researching, before proposing my title, would that make me more eligible? I didn't know how much of this should be done under the umbrella of actually being a student: propose then research, rather than research then propose?

jclm Thu 26-May-16 11:06:16

You might want to attend an early career researcher conference or workshop. That might spark off ideas and help you to network.

A PhD is really tough, especially part time. It can make you go insane!!! If you're looking for a challenge, why not do something else eg help to write grant applications for a charity or start writing a blog? The sad thing about doing a PhD is that no one reads it after all this work...

MrsJervis Thu 26-May-16 13:51:27

Lots of institutions now invite applications for people to undertake specific PhD projects (like this one: The big advantage is that these projects come with a fees waiver and sometimes a stipend too. I'm supervising a p/t student on a project a bit like this one at the moment - and didn't have any reservations about taking on a part timer. Best of luck if you do decide to apply.

KinkyDorito Thu 26-May-16 14:52:57

Thank you very much both of you thanks.

Mootle72 Thu 26-May-16 21:35:31

I went from secondary teaching to PhD. I took about 18 months to read around, get ideas and write a proposal. I found the book The PhD Application Handbook very helpful. PT is doable (a friend of mine is studying that way) but scholarships are often only for FT. Worth going on Twitter and following academics in the field as studentships are often advertised there. Good luck x

KinkyDorito Fri 27-May-16 07:00:12

Thanks for this Mootle. Did you stop teaching in order to study?

Mootle72 Fri 27-May-16 07:37:51

Yes, DH got a new job and we had to move so it seemed the right time to go for it. I got a scholarship for fees and a small stipend, I also get some work at Uni which helps.

FoggyBottom Fri 27-May-16 12:21:25

The problem with part-time is that a PhD is immersive and needs to be. The other problem is that part-time and self-funded PhD candidates are the most likely not to complete, or to submit unsatisfactory theses. If you could sort out some way of maybe doing the first 6 months full-time, I think that would be really beneficial.

It might also be useful to think of ways to get your knowledge up to scratch after a over a decade out of scholarship & research.

To start the research of scoping out your field, you'll need access to digital resources. So you'll need to find a big city library (or somewhere like the BL) to get access to the MLA Bibliography for a start.

What's your specific field? I can probably point you in the direction of up to date resources, and references which will get you up to speed. You could start with the YWES for a start. Have a look at the last decade of volumes (a big library will have them online). Or use your Alumna status to get back to your university library.

asilverraindrop Fri 27-May-16 13:55:57

And there are some specialist PhDs where they can have trouble recruiting someone to do it. What field are you looking at?

KinkyDorito Fri 27-May-16 17:11:37

I was working on Victorian and Edwardian representations of Egyptian/North African women, both in literature and art. I wanted to broaden this to photography and early film too, possibly extending my time period. I've already had a good search into recent critical texts published in my area and have an idea of what has been done, but I've no periodical access. My key theorists were Foucault, Freud and Bataille at MA.

To be honest though, I am open to suggestions. I enjoy all aspects of literature and studied a range at MA. My A Level teaching has also exposed me to new areas of interest that I would like the time and space to research at a more academic level.

KinkyDorito Fri 27-May-16 17:13:09

Foggy I've joined my university library and can join the one at Leeds uni, where I live, for a fee but there is no electronic access through either one.

FoggyBottom Mon 30-May-16 13:26:48

Try Leeds Central Library - they have the BL !9th Century Newspapers collection; they may have the MLA database, or JSTOR, or Project Muse.

Interesting topic - although huge!

KinkyDorito Mon 30-May-16 16:36:50

Thanks thanks thanks.

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