Life after the degree

Looking Back / Looking Ahead

Wow, has this Masters flown by. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year already. It feels like only yesterday I was settling down to pour (wine) over King Lear for my Violent Death in Renaissance Drama Autumn module.

Shakespeare and wine

Shakespeare and wine

I handed my Masters dissertation in on September 8 after months of serious but very enjoyable work. I loved the whole process from start to finish, researching around my subject, making discoveries and connections, and crafting an argument. I am eternally grateful to my wonderful supervisor Dr Jennifer Whitney who was supportive and helpful throughout.

Handing my dissertation in

Handing my dissertation in

Earlier in the year, I applied and had my abstract accepted to present a paper at the Gothic & Uncanny Explorations Conference at Karlstad University, Sweden. So as soon as I handed my dissertation in, I was off to the airport! The paper was to be on the same subject as my dissertation. Of course all my time had been taken up editing the 20,000 word thesis, so I found myself frantically trying to distil this into a 3,000 word paper on the plane on the way to Sweden – at least the subject was very fresh in my mind!

I flew to Stockholm and took the train to Karlstad for the three day conference. I was slightly nervous, it being my first conference and usually something Literature students do at PhD level rather than MA level. But the nervousness was soon dispelled and over the course of the conference I had the absolute time of my life. It was fantastic being around so many Gothic scholars and academics who are so involved in my area of interest, and I felt a great sense of belonging. There were so many fascinating talks over the three days from people who had come from all over the world, many which were incredibly inspiring, from Bram Stoker to Tim Burton, Uncanny Modernism to Zombie Terrorism, Scandinavian Gothic landscapes to Monstrous Bodies. My own talk went well and left me wanting to do more! There were champagne receptions and delicious Swedish buffet dinners included in the conference fee, which provided a more informal opportunity to get to know the other speakers.

Karlstad University

Karlstad University

I wanted to make the most of my visit to Sweden, so after the conference finished I spent a few days in Stockholm as a tourist. It’s a fantastic city, beautiful in the sunshine, and great for walking around with a camera. I wandered the cobbled streets of the old town, strolled through green parks, and drank wine on the waterfront. I met up with some of the other academics who had attended the conference, and we went for dinner and experienced the Stockholm Ice Bar.

Ice Bar

Ice Bar

The conference was the cherry on top of what has been an unforgettable Masters year. It was an amazing experience to cap it all off, and helped confirm that this is what I really want to do with my life: become an English Literature academic, researching, submitting to journals, lecturing, teaching, designing modules, and going to as many conferences as possible!

So looking ahead, I will now start applying for a PhD. I am considering moving to Europe for this, so my next task is exploring the opportunities available in terms of supervisors and funding abroad. It has become increasingly difficult to secure funding in the arts, so I need to work hard on my proposal.

Meanwhile for the next year I will continue working as a copywriter and marketing assistant for a tea company, which I have been doing part time alongside my Masters. But every spare moment will be filled with the Gothic: reading, researching, attending events and blogging.