Dear Members and Contacts of the Birkbeck Graduate Research
We are delighted to share with you a call for papers for our
interdisciplinary AHRC Midlands4Cities-funded virtual seminar series, ‘Culture,
Things, and Empire’. We will be hosting 5 online Zoom seminars (20-minute
papers and 40 minutes of discussion) and 1 masterclass for all registered
participants surrounding issues and themes such as race, gender, class, and
materiality in the fields of imperial, colonial and global studies. The series
will take place between November 2020 and April 2021. Registration to attend
the seminars will also open soon here: https://culturethingsempire.wordpress.com/
I am a mature student, just beginning the second year of my
PhD in Early Modern History, so I am currently preparing my first research
chapter for my upgrade from MPhil to PhD. My research focuses on accuracy and
the value of accuracy in seventeenth-century English news sources, with
particular reference to the period between 1649 and 1685. It was always work
that was going to have some resonance in the 21st century; “fake
news” is very definitely not a modern invention.
One of my main topics looks at the 1665 Great Plague and the
Fire of 1666. I am interested in whether both producers and consumers of news
approached accuracy any differently when dealing with natural disaster as
opposed to news about political, civil and military strife, of which there was
a good deal in the seventeenth century. When I decided, with my supervisor (Dr
Brodie Waddell), to make this my first research chapter, neither of us had any
idea that I would be working on it during a 21st century pandemic
and a national lockdown….. and that archive access might be a bit trickier
than normal. So many thanks are due to Brodie for advice on how to deal with
that and to all the archives and their staff that have re-opened in the past
At the start of lockdown in March 2020 I decided to keep a “Covid
journal” prompted by a number of academics I follow on twitter. I used to be a
journalist and I am trying to be a social and cultural historian, so I figured
that keeping a diary might give me some insight into those diary keepers,
commonplace book authors and letter writers whose news consumption habits I was
trying to understand.
Historians should be rightly cautious about making
comparisons between the past and the present, so I am very careful about
drawing direct comparisons.
However, despite the considerable advance in medical science
and news technology in the last three hundred and fifty years, the search for
reliable information and the debates about how to act on that information have
a familiar ring.
People in seventeenth century London tracked the weekly
Bills of Mortality, as we have all followed the graphs at the daily government
news conferences. The efficacy of shutting people up in their houses once a
case of plague was discovered was debated from the street to the medical
journals. News came at the seventeenth century citizen from a huge range of sources,
orally from neighbours, business partners, customers, from Authority – the
King, Parliament and the City Authorities, from newspapers, which as well as
editorial content, ran huge numbers of adverts for all sorts of plague cures
Those citizens of seventeenth century London, who remained
in the city, had to juggle a lot of conflicting information, with the need to
maintain daily life and work, and if I have learnt one thing in the last six
months it is to have considerable respect for how they managed to do that.
I joined Birkbeck as a PhD student in January 2019. Being one of the few people who started halfway through the traditional academic year, initially I found it quite a solitary experience. Luckily, the BGRS were very supportive when Alex Leggett and I decided to start the Birkbeck PhD Network within the Students’ Union to help PhD students meet, network, and find information and support.
For a typical Birkbeck student – busy, juggling many
responsibilities, often in employment alongside their studies – finding ways to
connect with others may be an overwhelming experience. While the BGRS training
events are a great opportunity to meet other PhD students across College, the
networking is usually done within the constrains of a workshop: you may chat
with someone or even have a coffee together during the break but then usually
just rush off to your next appointment.
Within the PhD Network, we are trying to provide an informal
space for meeting others, socialising, discussing our experiences as PhD
students, and supporting each other on the PhD journey. While we cannot
physically meet while the COVID-19 restrictions are in place, we are trying to
make up for it with our WhatsApp chat, which you can join by dropping us a line
at SU-PhD-Network@bbk.ac.uk, and Facebook group.
Our aim is to bring together people from different departments, different backgrounds, and with different experiences to enable a deep multidisciplinary conversation. Besides, talking to people from other disciplines sometimes opens an unexpected perspective on your own research (and meetups with other PhD students provide an opportunity to practise your “elevator pitch”!). Serious talk aside, we also try to make sure everyone has a comfortable space just to discuss anything the PhD community can provide support with.
On top of that, the Network frequently acts as a point of
contact between the PhD community and the BGRS since we can collect comments
and queries and bring them up with the BGRS via email or at PGR reps meetings
Please use the links above to get in touch and we look
forward to welcoming you to our community.
Whether it concerns colleagues, friends, family or your life partner … it is good to know on which points you (dis)agree. Not so much to possibly distance yourself from that person, but to be able to work more effectively on the relationship. One way to do this is to ask yourself and the other person questions. Below is a book tip, which also includes references to research data, for light-hearted but instructive conversations.
In these unprecedented times, reflection on yourself and on your environment may be of greater value than ever. You may have been in isolation or quarantine with your partner for weeks, gaining new insights into how your personalities relate to each other. While studies show that similarities or complementarities in partners’ personalities may not determine a successful relationship (Eysenck & Wakefield, 1981; Groves, 2016; Rosowsky et al., 2012), it is nice to keep personalities in harmony. Or perhaps you have seen your colleagues in a different light due to a changing work situation. It is good to keep in mind that guarding the bond with each other at work is important if connectedness with colleagues is a factor for your job satisfaction.
As a headhunter/recruiter, I bring people together and I am actively busy with reaching out to others to make suitable matches. As a PhD student, I bring ideas together about intra-household dynamics between men and women to eventually publish as articles and complete my thesis. Already having a lot on my plate, I was still curious about finding ways to reach out to others by sharing insights – whilst undertaking PhD research – about interpersonal relationships. This prompted me to bundle research-based statements about men/women issues and put them in book form. Indeed, the book tip mentioned above is therefore a shameless plug for my “Talk Data to Me” book, but if even only one statement could provide additional insight, understanding and knowledge between you and your intimate (as the book contains sexual references) interlocutor, then this plug is worth it. In the spirit of this book, I provide “Battle of the Sexes” quizzes for groups, with statements that are also based on research data but are suitable for non-intimate individuals, such as colleagues. For example, I was recently invited to an online networking event where attendees competed for the most correct answers to my “yes/no” statements. The winners were the ones who, despite the limitations of not physically being in the same space, managed to bond with each other through video connection and live chat. If (the spirit of) my book could be a means to find online connection for these non-intimate persons, then my wish for you is that the hard copy of the book would create big sparks between you and the person who (possibly) suits you.
Hi my name
is Ogechi, I am currently a first year PhD psychology student at Birkbeck and
an NHS Mental Health worker. My previous
studies are Master of Public Health (MPH) and BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science.
My PhD journey has been great so far, acquiring new skills and knowledge in psychology. I have been very lucky to be a part of the Department of Psychological Sciences, and am grateful to my supervisor and mentor. My research is on medical help-seeking behaviours amongst the BME community which crosses over to my line of work in the NHS on a daily basis.
As well as registering my systematic review on Prospero, lecturing about what I do in work gave me a sense of joy to share the knowledge and attitude around how health psychology interventions are practised in NHS and NHS Mental Health settings. In these uncertain times, it can be quite challenging, but it is very important that everyone looks after their mental health during this time.
Balancing work and studies can be quite challenging as a mature student, but I’m determined that this will bring more benefit to the world of research and the field I am heading towards. COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill and has shown us the possibilities of adjusting to this potential new normal. It has also highlighted the health inequalities and disparities seen in the BME community which is in line with my research, medical help-seeking and the barriers experiences by this group making it very relevant to today’s climate.
I hope the
next time I write another blog post, it will be me sharing my published
systematic review for all of you to share and read.
The following events and opportunities are available via the AHRC funded CHASE Doctoral Training Programme. All of the opportunities below are open to all Arts and Humanities PhD students at Birkbeck, regardless of whether they are funded or self-funded. If I could also draw your attention to a couple of calls for papers/participation that are currently open.
Journal recruiting members for next Editorial Board
Brief Encounters is currently recruiting the next Editorial Board to oversee the creation of issue 5 – see below press release:
Seaside, Ruin and De-Industrialisation on the Cleveland Coast
Friday 10th to sunday 12th of January
Following the critical excursion Beyond the Heartlands and building on themes of de-industrialisation, landscape and ruin, the ‘Space Place Time’ research collective are calling for participants for a two-day critical excursion to Redcar and Cleveland. Completed in 1846, the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway hoped to attract tourism, but like much of the region, Redcar’s expansion came with the 1850 discovery of iron ore in the Eston area of the Cleveland Hills. The engine of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, Redcar was simultaneously home to a Victorian pleasure pier. The pier’s demolition in 1981 can be seen as an allegory of the decade’s slum, which saw the simultaneous decline of both industries.
The Frankfurt Exotic: broken objects and porous walls in Naples
Beginning of April (deadline to apply 15 Jan)
Following the critical excursion Re-mapping the Arcades
Project in Glasgow, and building on the field engagement with the work and
cities of Walter Benjamin, we are calling for participants in a critical
excursion in Naples: The Frankfurt Exotic: broken objects and porous walls in
Naples. This critical excursion will take place over 4 nights at the beginning
of April 2020 and will involve a series of workshops, walking tours and
screenings with the anticipated outcome of a publication recording
conversations, presentations, works in progress, creative responses and
Friday 17th of January (from 12:00) – Norfolk Heritage Centre
Saturday 18th January – Blickling Estate
The second of the CHASE DTP-funded Bookscapes workshops, offering PhD students advanced training in palaeographical, codicological and bibliographical skills, will take place on 17th-18th January 2020, hosted by the University of East Anglia and led by Tom Roebuck and Sophie Butler. At the Norfolk Heritage Centre, on day one of the workshop, attending students will have the opportunity to engage with the collections of the original Norwich City Library (founded in 1618). The workshop will move to Blickling Estate on the second day, where the students will focus on the techniques and history of bookbinding and the history of the book. The second day’s workshop will be led by Nicholas Pickwoad, one of the leading experts on bookbinding and an adviser to the National Trust on book conservation.
Are you a mid- or late-stage doctoral researcher, struggling
to make progress with your thesis? Do you keep putting off your writing? If so,
Thesis Boot Camp could be the solution. Deadline to apply – 17 January.
Aural Diversity is a series of lectures, workshops and in-situ training sessions seeking to encourage creative and critical attention towards aural diversity within the arts and humanities, with particular focus on an ecology of the ear, designed for all those researching within the Arts and Humanities, especially those with an interest in the creative, social and political dimensions of sound and listening.
These sessions specifically address the need for further study and practice inspired by, and concerning, this specific turn in research and focus on a particular theme led by an academic/practitioner with invited guests selected to represent a range of approaches.
Session #1 | Thursday 13 February | 1000-1800 | Goldsmiths,
University of London – Register
Session # 2 | Thursday 27 February | 1000-1800 | Room 264,
Senate House, London – Register
Session #3 | Thursday 12 March | 1000-1800 | Goldsmiths,
University of London – Register
Plenary | Thursday 26 March | 1500-1800 | Keynes Library,
Birkbeck, University of London – Register
Ethnography and Film. Exploring Labour, Technology and Mediation in the Egyptian Film Industry
19 Feb (14:00-20:30)
University of Kent
The workshop will offer participants advanced training in
ethnography, applied to the context of the Egyptian Film industry. Dr El
Khachab’s workshop will outline how researchers can successfully apply
ethnographic methodologies, developed in Anthropology, to research issues about
arts and media, especially film. Dr El Khachab will outline the strategies he
developed during his PhD research to gather observations, interviews and
documentary data from creatives and technicians working in the largest and most
influential media industry in the Arab world. He will also provide participants
an insight into how he adapted the presentation of his findings from his PhD
thesis into his forthcoming monograph, The Egyptian Film Industry: Labor,
Call for proposals | The Essay Film Festival: Research, Critique, Practice
As part of its new
collaborative partnership with CHASE, the Essay Film Festival is inviting
proposals from doctoral students for a student-led symposium exploring
essayistic forms and their relationship to academic research, social critique
and artistic practice.
The conference will combine
research presentations and film screenings, including examples of practice-led
researchers talking through, questioning and “essaying” their own work. This
event will follow the sixth edition of the Essay Film Festival, which will take
place at Birkbeck Cinema, ICA, Goethe-Institut and Institut Français, from 26
March to 4 April 2020.
The symposium will be held at Birkbeck Cinema in May 2020
(exact date to be confirmed), more than a month after the end of the festival.
The idea of the conference is, therefore, to provide a space for critical
reflection and debate, with a certain detachment from the EFF programme itself,
as well as to propose and discuss new directions for the festival in the
Call for Papers | Critical Race Studies and the Premodern: Archive and Seminar
23rd to 24th March – University of East Anglia 8th to 9th June – University of Sussex
Universities of East Anglia and Sussex are hosting two postgraduate
training workshops on critical race studies and the pre-modern. The first of
these will be held at the University of East Anglia, 23-24 March 2020, and will
focus on teaching and pedagogy; the second will be held at The University of
Sussex, 8-9 June 2020, and will focus on research. Both events are designed to
develop students’ professional skills. We invite expressions of interest from
all postgraduates working in the Humanities (giving papers, designing and
chairing sessions, attending).
A steering group has identified themes for the sessions but we are asking for additional help in organising the second day of the conference. We are looking for volunteers to help identify suitable contributors (academic staff, current Birkbeck doctoral researchers or alumni) and to organise for them to take part in each theme.
By taking part in this way you will have the chance to meet other PhD students and contribute to this exciting event. If you are willing to take part we will put you in contact with members of the steering group or others who would like to volunteer and you would be asked to work together on the theme you are interested in.
We invite you to let us know by
the end of Tuesday 4 February if you are willing to help in this way.
BGRS Postgraduate Research Conference: 22-23 April 2020
2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of Birkbeck joining the University of London, and also the 100th anniversary of our first PhD. To celebrate these milestones as we approach the College’s 200th year, the BGRS is organising a centenary conference, led by current PhD students and doctoral alumni.
entitled #BBKConversations, it will be a great opportunity for the whole Birkbeck
postgraduate research community to engage with the big issues of the day. The
steering committee are in the early stages of planning the conference, but we
need your help to shape it.
Over the course of
two days, we hope to arrange lectures, workshops and maybe an exhibition, using
our current research as well as the work of alumni to frame some big
Below are some
themes the committee has come up with, but we would really like your input. What
do you want to discuss and focus on? We are looking for exciting and
innovative ways to bring together researchers in business, humanities, social
sciences, STEM, and everything in between.
Whether or not you want to take an active role in the conference, please put the 22nd and 23rd of April in your diary. If you would like to join the committee, propose a theme or participate in one of the #BBKConversations, please contact the BGRS Manager Tim Hoe (firstname.lastname@example.org). Get in touch with any and every idea no matter how big or small, and let’s make this a great conference. Please let Tim have your ideas by the 2nd of December so we can discuss them at our planning workshop.
If Birkbeck did not exist would we need to invent it? What is the relevance of Birkbeck’s mission and its particular character in relation to society today?
What have Birkbeck’s contributions to society and to research been? The conference could showcase this in relation to alumni. What should Birkbeck’s future research focus be?
What are the historic and current roles for Birkbeck in terms of activism and research? Birkbeck has a radical history but should a university be radical?
Is London a global city-state? If so, is that good or bad for the UK? It was agreed that the relationship between education, social mobility and migration could be explored in the context of London and the rest of the UK.
Access and engagement. What is the future of the university in relation to race and migration, borders and decolonisation of the curriculum? What does a modern doctoral graduate look like and what journeys have led to our research students coming to Birkbeck? It would be interesting to explore some of the different stories and the role of a PhD in different cultures, with opportunities to interact and to explore these issues further at the conference.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative and qualitative research? This could work as a debate – with representatives from both sides.
What role does objectivity play in research? How does storytelling and narrative relate to research? What is reality – and what are the consequences of choices made when framing research?
What relevance do issues of privacy and digital data have in research? This could include discussion of artificial intelligence, deep learning, big data and ethics.
Birkbeck doctoral researcher Gabriella McGrogan tells us about taking part in the 2019 Birkbeck 3 Minute Thesis Competition
Trying to figure out how to condense something you’ve been passionately thinking about and shaping over many months, into around the same amount of time you spend brushing your teeth before bed, seems beyond tricky. My supervisor suggested that the Three Minute Thesis competition would be a great opportunity to refine the key points of my project and give me a handy synopsis to roll out at conferences, meetings and in the pub. This seemed worthwhile, if only to avoid the baffled looks my poor friends give me when I’m trying to explain what I do now.
Having worked as a TA in secondary schools in London and Paris, I thought I might have had an advantage in the public speaking stakes. What could be more terrifying than getting 35 teenagers to first, be quiet, and second, listen to you? As it transpires, academic conferences are. Put on by famous institutions and renowned journals, full of ‘grown-up’ academics who have earned themselves the blue tick on Twitter, my first attempt earlier this year was nerve-wracking. The competition was such a brilliant opportunity to develop skills and alleviate imposter syndrome!
Almost exactly three years ago, I submitted an application to study for Birkbeck’s MSc in Global Criminology. Up until then, I had completed two degrees in Literary and Cultural Studies, but realised that I wanted a change. It’s an understatement to say that the existence of Birkbeck has changed my life for the better. I think the competition, and ensuring my research is accessible and comprehensible to as many people as possible, is a great way to embrace and celebrate the ethos of the college. My research will benefit hugely from the interaction and input of those outside of my discipline and academia in general. Most importantly, I got to engage with students from other departments and learned some fascinating things from their presentations!
I’d strongly encourage any students considering taking part in future to do so. The tips I gained from the training alone were well worth the time spent and I’ve definitely noticed I can explain my project with ease in the aftermath!
You can read more about the 2019 Birkbeck 3MT Competition here.
The following bulletin is provided by the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network (BPSN) of which Birkbeck is a member. Our membership of the BPSN provides Birkbeck PhD students with an expanded range of training and development opportunities.
Opportunities – First Mondays: Networking for Entrepreneurs
Book now! May courses available
First Mondays: Networking for Entrepreneurs
3 June 2019
8 May 2019: Public Engagement: Developing Your Own ActivityKCL
This half-day workshop will allow you to share your public engagement ideas and work with other participants to critique and improve them. Focus will be on the practicalities of public engagement.
8 May 2019: Format your ThesisUCL
Bring your own laptop or Mac to this hands-on session and learn the essential skills to format and edit your content in Word.
9 May 2019: Organising Successful Academic EventsSAS
This session runs through the key areas of organising a successful academic event. We will discuss the different event types, public engagement, impact, timing, venues, audiences, speakers and finance.
15 May 2019: Ethical issues: The use of deception in researchLSE *NEW*
Deception is a common feature of some social science research approaches yet absent or even forbidden by professional norms in other closely related social sciences. What is deception?
16 May 2019: Translation and Interpreting – IMLR Graduate ForumSAS
Forum members meet once a month during term-time to share and discuss their work in an informal setting, and invites students to present their research and host film screenings, reading groups and workshops.
20 May 2019: Cross Purposes: Networking with easeUCL
The workshop is designed to be an event that leads a group though ideas, models and conversations resulting in a greater sense of rapport within a group.
28 May 2019: Specific Heat Capacity – Voice trainingUCL
Specific Heat Capacity is a three-hour voice workshop based on theatrical as well as practical experience, and aimed towards anyone wishing to develop their vocal ability.