Birkbeck Intern Blog Post – Ralph Day

Ralph Day

I joined the Peltz Gallery intern team at the beginning of the academic year 2017/18. Interns are employed on a 40-hour contract, and we manage our own time, deciding how much time we would like to give to organising our own public engagement event, promoting and evaluating events at the Peltz, and installing and de-installing exhibitions.

The internship is designed to fit around our own PhD research, and all three interns have been flexible in swapping responsibilities and supporting each other in our Gallery projects. As well as promoting public events at the Peltz and supporting the install of exhibitions, the major part of my work as an intern has been conceiving, organising and facilitating a public engagement event.

In May, the Wellcome-funded, internationally-touring exhibition, Transitional States: Hormones at the Crossroads of Art and Science, was installed at the Peltz Gallery. The exhibition explores feminist and queer perspectives on the role of hormones in contraception, fertility, menopause, and gender transition. By chance, this academic year also saw the emergence of the Birkbeck Feminist and Queer Theory Reading Group.

While meetings of this reading group normally take place in seminar rooms at Birkbeck, it seemed to me that it would be stimulating to stage a discussion of a queer text at the Peltz Gallery with the Transitional States exhibition in place. And what better text to discuss, in order to engage with the themes of the exhibition, than Paul B. Preciado’s Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era, which explores the author’s use of testosterone as a form of ‘gender hacking’. This proved timely, as Preciado had also been invited by the organiser of Transitional States, Dr. Chiara Beccalossi, to deliver a lecture about his work at the Wellcome Collection in June.

With my bid for funding approved by Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS), I invited two specialists to contribute to the reading group meeting at the Peltz, to help us unpack the relationship between queer and feminist theory and (art) practice: Raju Rage, a London-based artist and activist whose video work at Transitional States makes reference to Testo Junkie; and Sofia Ropek-Hewson, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge who is writing her thesis about pharmacopornographic subjectivity in Preciado’s work. Spaces for this session quickly filled up, and it promises to be a valuable resource for the PhD and MA students involved. This may also signal the start of new partnerships between the Peltz Gallery and university reading groups.

 

Birkbeck Intern Blog Post – Aren Roukema

Aren Roukema

Internships Academic Publishing: Working with 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century

I had the great privilege of interning with 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, a well-respected humanities journal hosted by Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies. Over the course of helping with three excellent issues of the journal, I gained valuable experience copyediting text and liaising with authors, reviewers and editors, and just generally had an opportunity to get the sense of a casual, yet still quite professional publishing environment.

The position is largely self-directed, though the one-year internship at 19 is modeled on the adeptship of martial arts films — for the first six months you work and train with a more experienced intern who has already been in the position for at least one issue; for the last six months you’re the master. In reality this equates to learning and adjusting to situations together, as there’s always a new problem to solve, or at least a new twist on an old conundrum. That said, the support from the full-time editors at 19 was tremendous. I particularly benefitted from training and assistance with copyediting. I’d had some experience with this previously, but my time working with the 19 editors gave me an intense commitment to proper grammar and punctuation that I’m not entirely comfortable with with which I’m not entirely comfortable.

Though generally solitary, the internship could be quite social. During regular meetings with 19 staff and with faculty and students involved with the Centre, interns were frequently encouraged to share ideas for the future of the journal and other Centre activities. Internships like this one can be demanding on the already short supply of time available to a PhD student, but I encourage all who are interested in an academic career or a future in any aspect of publishing to apply. The position was fairly remunerated and provided excellent opportunities to develop skills related to both publishing and the critical evaluation of academic work.

Images taken from http://www.cncs.bbk.ac.uk/ 

Birkbeck Intern Blog Post – Shijia Yu

Shijia Yu

I have thoroughly enjoyed being an intern at Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies. Already a subscriber to the Centre’s newsletter and blog before applying for the PhD programme, I learned about this opportunity through the Centre and was lucky enough to be selected as event officer intern. Most of my responsibility lies in assisting the organisation of various Centre talks, lectures and conferences, and I also manage the blog and social media platform of the Centre, as well as sitting in Centre meetings and taking minutes.

The internship has been a rewarding, eye-opening and inspiring experience. As I am in frequent liaison with Birkbeck as well as external PhD colleagues and established scholars over the Centre’s everyday running, I have made many contacts in the field of nineteenth-century studies, which is where my PhD research lies. Communicating research with them helps me keep exploring new perspectives in my work.

Assisting the organisation of various events for the Centre is of great benefit for both my academic and employment prospects. Organising academic events is now expected from a PhD student, and part of the everyday life of a researcher in academia, which is what I aspire to be. Hence my experience from the internship will certainly help make things easier when it is my turn to devise an event.

In a way this is already proven true, as I have been most generously supported by the Centre, but most of all by its co-directors, in organising two events for Birkbeck Arts Week 2018: Paper Peepshow: Make Your Own, and Paper Peepshow: Peep into the Rabbit Hole. During my preparation for the two Arts Week events, they were very generous in their help, from giving guidance on my funding application to coming to the events on the day to show their support. The events have helped me address methodological issues that I have encountered during my first-year research, and also brought more attention to my research subject.

Apart from helping me during the Arts Week, the co-directors have also made sure that I have all the support needed on my daily work on the role, including providing me with handover notes, training me on skills such as minute taking, and maintaining the website. They also encourage me to develop my own working style and help me establish protocols and standards in my work. Indeed, this support can be felt with everyone in the Centre, and even my predecessor, who has long left the position, has come to my help again and again with admiring patience.

I find the internship a great opportunity for Birkbeck PhD students, and would definitely recommend it to others. In particular, the flexibility given to me on this role is incredible: I could finish 80% of the work at any time of my choice, hence integrating the internship into my PhD study nicely, instead of having it disrupting my research.

Shijia Yu, Research Student

Birkbeck Intern Blog Post – Elena Shampanova

Elena Shampanova

From September 2017 to July 2018 I embarked on an internship with Peltz Gallery at the School of Arts at Birkbeck. The position was advertised through the BGRS regular emails, and immediately caught my attention. Having worked and managed events in an arts gallery before, I have never worked in a gallery in an academic setting, and saw this as a chance to apply my existing skills to the new environment, and learn more about the way Peltz Gallery operates and public engagement events are run. I applied and was very excited to have been offered this internship together with two other PhD students.

At our induction meeting we were given an overview of the Peltz Gallery annual plan, and exhibitions coming up. We were invited to support the install and de-install of exhibitions as well as some of the events, however, the focus was very much on what we were interested in doing, and what we wanted to try our hand at.

During my interview for the internship we spoke about my experience of developing evaluation frameworks for arts projects, so when I started I suggested creating one for Peltz Gallery. The idea was welcomed by the team, and I went through a series of questions with them to shape the aims of evaluation. Based on that I developed a framework and tools for collecting data throughout the year, and now I am in the process of analysing it, and writing up the report. Throughout the year evaluation process received support from all the team as it was the first pilot year, and everyone is looking forward to seeing the results. I was pleased to see that my initiative was taken on board at all levels – by peer interns and the gallery team.

Overall, I feel that this internship is a unique way to gain hands-on experience of running a gallery in an academic setting – from shaping a yearly plan of exhibitions to learning all the technicalities of lighting and sound in the space, as well as organising and running public events. I learn best by doing, so this was just right for me, and will be beneficial for my future work in academia as it gave me a lot of ideas on how my research can be presented to public in an engaging way. Being part of an interdisciplinary team and working alongside my peers, who are coming from different research backgrounds enriched our dialogues and boosted ideas – it is amazing, how you can approach a similar subject from a range of angles and disciplines. So if you are considering taking on an internship, go ahead, you will learn so much, meet new people, and will most likely see your own research in a new light.

I would like to thank everyone, who I worked with, for their professionalism, guidance, knowledge and ideas sharing, support and encouragement.

Elena Shampanova, Research Student.