May Bookshelf: My Thesis is Completely Fine

“I think that it is perfectly normal to talk to oneself occasionally. It’s not as though I’m expecting a reply. I’m fully aware that Polly is a houseplant.”

Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Continue reading “May Bookshelf: My Thesis is Completely Fine”

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The Matriculated Marker: On being both student and teacher

“Here, in college… you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything – from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Continue reading “The Matriculated Marker: On being both student and teacher”

March Bookshelf: Live Through This Flu

“In a world too often governed by corruption and arrogance, it can be difficult to stay true to one’s philosophical and literary principles.”

Olivia Caliban, A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)

March was a great month for reading and a not-so-great month for my immune system. Continue reading “March Bookshelf: Live Through This Flu”

February Bookshelf: We Were Eight Years in the Bardo

“The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

I have read a bit less than usual this month than last, but I have a few good reasons. Firstly, I moved into a new flat in a new town this month, and spent several days reading nothing more dense than an Ikea assembly leaflet. Secondly, February only has twenty-eight days, and there really is nothing I can do about that. And finally, I got a great new job! Continue reading “February Bookshelf: We Were Eight Years in the Bardo”

On Safe Spaces and Samuel Richardson

“Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.”

Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Two weeks ago I found myself encountering an interesting pedagogical challenge: teaching a book that centres upon a woman surviving a sexually traumatic event and reframing her recovery by marrying her would-be rapist. Continue reading “On Safe Spaces and Samuel Richardson”

Crabs and Cautious Optimism

Come along with me, misery loves company,
You’re welcome at the home of the blues.

Johnny Cash, Home of the Blues

It’s no secret that the work of a PhD is heavy going. As candidates, we face poor health, financial drain, and the possibility of failure as standard risks for undertaking this type of project. I think everybody begins with a sense of cautious optimism, of which most are disabused by around the end of semester one. But what’s wrong with a little optimism? Continue reading “Crabs and Cautious Optimism”