3 May: PhD update

The last few weeks have been challenging so I have to keep reminding myself of things that my main supervisor Karen has told me such as, that as I am part-time it need not take over my life!  It had begun to feel like that so it was time to stand back a bit.  I also reminded myself of three things:

  1. That there will be an end in sight one day not that far off.
  2. Not to get bogged down with too much information, articles etc. to wade through, as at the end of the day they are to supplement my ideas and provide evidence of my conclusions etc. and I do not need to include everything only the best bits.
  3. If I did not carry on I would be wasting all the money I had invested in this so far and would very much regret it later.

So I am back on track but not making as fast progress as I had hoped by now in view of having to submit some more writing by end of June.

However every now and then a little gem appears. I was asked by Sarah from the University of Hertfordshire who I met at the Kathe  Buchler Conference recently, to write a piece on my research for their ‘Everyday Lives in War’ website.  Whilst for those who have had lots already published this is not a major deal but for me it is a first. It has also helped in that long battle to regenerate my self-confidence!

The link to the site is https://everydaylivesinwar.herts.ac.uk/?p=4259S

So onwards and forwards and hopefully next time I update this I will have made great strides.

 

 

24 Mar: Witnessing War Workshop

A really interesting day at the University of Hertfordshire, in Hatfield. It was a good networking opportunity and chance to see the WW1 photographs of Kathe Buchler which have not been seen much outside of Germany and received little attention.  The speakers ranged from Jenny Matthews author of ‘Women and War’ to PhD candidates like Jo Young, talking about their research in connected areas of interest through to Jason Crowley from Manchester Metropolitans University .  During the day there was a meeting to discuss the exhibition being held until 5 May of Buchler’s work.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also managed to locate a copy of her book but unfortunately only produced in German which will be a challenge.  Still I have a German dictionary!

 

March: PhD Update

I guess I’m not going to get any brownie points for keeping my blog up to date!  However I do feel that unless there is something useful to pass on then it is not necessary to just write for the sake of it. Since my last update and meeting with my supervisor in January I have just buried myself away to research and write.  In a moment of madness I said I’d send her a big chunk of writing and it was only when I started that I realised how much I’d taken on, especially as some aspects had not been looked at before 🙁  However I felt that if I sent her my Introduction, Methodology and skeleton Literature Review then this would form a good basis for building on especially during the summer months.  For me, I need to be well organised or the amount of sources feel as if they are taking over at times.  So it is very much a day at a time and staying on track, not getting side-lined and digging deep.

I eventually submitted 14,000 words so although it was a bit rough round the edges in places and felt a bit rushed towards the end it can now be fine tuned.  It showed also the importance of having a critical friend who can point out even minor errors that you may not have spotted.  Still I am only in Year 2 so have time hopefully to make big improvements.

Some of the sources I have consulted have been more than challenging.  This rare book is worth a mention as the captions with the images are problematic in many cases but as a source of images can provide interesting information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following my supervisor’s meeting last week I now need to submit a rough plan  of action and beginnings of Chapter 2 ready for July.  If anyone says this is a big undertaking was making an understatement as I’m sure I’m not alone in continually questioning my ability to do this.  Still I’ve survived so far so that’s a positive!

 

 

 

 

31 Dec: Updates and The New Year

Is it just me or do others find New Year’s eve a real conflict of emotions? Do we always ponder over what has happened during the last year – its ups and downs and then try to at least think positively about the coming year?

PHD

This has taken over more than I ever anticipated, but being part-time I mistakenly thought that if I pulled out all the stops I could perhaps finish early and save a few pennies in the process!   Although I have the time to do it I need to find a better work / life balance so as to keep up the momentum but have some fun at the same time.  I had my first Review in November which seemed to go well, but since then I have had a major rethink about the structure of the thesis and am hoping that when I see my supervisor in a couple of weeks time she will agree that this would be a big improvement.

During the year I made great progress by firstly interviewing John Jolliffe in Mells Somerset.  He was instrumental in Florence’s diary being published and was able to fill in many pieces of the jigsaw.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst I have not been very active using social media it was through using Facebook that I was able to make contact with Florence’s great-nephew Mark and in turn her nephew (now 95) and his wife (93)!.  This led to my meeting them for lunch near Guildford and talking about Florence.  I came away feeling that I had made new close friends who were so interested in what I was doing.  So this was a very good way to finish the year.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just before Christmas I went to London to see the Dali / Duchamp exhibition at the Royal Academy.  At last I was able to see a painting that has been on my ‘must see’ list.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had been told many years ago was told that this very powerful painting by Dali was usually hung at the end of a long room in the art gallery in Glasgow, so it was the first thing the visitor saw when they entered the room. So to see it locally was one visit not to miss.  However its position in the Royal Academy was not so impressive as it was on a wall with other paintings, so rather lost.

Turner Contemporary Research Group 

I have found that towards the end of the year my role documenting the meetings has seemed to be less needed.  If it was a meeting to merely discuss progress and did not present many photographic opportunities, then I have not offered my services unless asked.  I also found that on some occasions there was another photographer there so this meant that taking images was problematic as we were competing for floor space.  I also would spend time editing etc. after the event and sending off to interested parties only to often find that I sometimes did not even receive an acknowledgment that they had been received.

As the intended exhibition is due to take place early 2018 I am not sorry to be losing this demand on my time, as at the end of the day my PhD is more important.  It has also shown that whilst it has been an interesting experience and I have enjoyed meeting some great people in the process working with a large gallery can be challenging at times!

The New Year

Apart from working to ensure that the first draft of chapters 1 and 2 of my PhD are finished by the summer then the pressure will hopefully diminish considerably.

The TSE Research Group exhibition will be held soon so it will be good all the efforts of the group over the last two years come to fruition.  Luckily I am still working with the Walking Group and there are a couple of anticipated walks due to take place both locally and in London during the year, so another photographic opportunity.

Now that Uni has given me a small expensed fund I will be able to travel and do more research in original archives.  The first proposed trip will be up to Edinburgh in the spring (when it is warmer) to visit the National Library of Scotland to look at the work of Mairi Chisholm, so something to look forward to.

Apart from taking images for the Turner Research Group I have rather neglected my own photography so have very much missed taking myself off and just taking pictures.  I bought an old Rolleiflex TLR camera earlier in the year and have yet to give it a try out.  So that is a must together with resurrecting my darkroom and doing more analogue work.

There may be a few flying pigs around here but perhaps my writing would improve from not spending so much time chained to the PC! I hope the year will continue to bring good health and to be able to see more of friends and family.  A very happy new year to whoever may take the time to read this 🙂

 

 

 

 

6-7 Oct: Bradford

My contact Pippa Oldfield, the curator at Impressions Gallery, Bradford had notified me previously that they were holding a national touring exhibition entitled, ‘No Man’s Land: Women’s Photography and the First World War’ with the private view and launch on 6 October and the artists in conversation on 7 October.  The exhibition funded by amongst others  the National Lottery and Arts Council England will got later go to Bristol  Cathedral April – July 2018, The Turnpike, Leigh November – January 209 and Bishop Auckland Town Hall February – April 2019. the content It has been put together by a group of local young people called, The new Focus Group.

The following images were taken at the private view:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It comprises work by Olive Edis, Mairi Chisholm and Florence Famborough together with contemporary work produced by Alison Baskerville, Dawn Cole and Chloe Dewe Mathews.  It was exciting to be part of the launch and to see larger versions of 15 of Farmborough’s images although they are prints and not original copies.   The exhibition as a whole is most interesting and thought provoking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Pippa Oldfield with Alison Baskerville, Dawn Cole and Chloe Dewe Mathews.

October: PhD Update

I do not know where the summer break went, as it seems to have gone in a flash and a new academic year is now starting.  While is it good to be back, I soon realised that things were progressing at breakneck speed.

I have spent a long period of time working on my Final Proposal, so all other research has been put to one side momentarily.  I received notification of my First Review date mid November, so whilst I keep telling myself that I am on track and know the people involved well, it is still rather daunting and another hurdle to be jumped.  Once I have the feedback from this then I can pull out all the stops and get immersed back into my work again.

I had also hoped to ease up on the Research Development Programme sessions as I attended 14 last year, and so unless I felt the need to repeat some there were not many I had not been to that seemed relevant.  However, it soon became apparent that Uni feels it necessary and that I become fully engaged with the programme again, although I do wonder how much of it is a box ticking exercise!  Anyway, I have dutifully signed up for some and fortunately some are being held online so does not involve having to go into Uni just for that.

One exciting recent development in my work has been being able to make contact with two of Farmborough’s living relatives through my contact Pippa at the Impressions Gallery, Bradford and my next post will cover the trip up to Bradford.  The living relatives seem most enthusiastic about what I am doing and pleased that someone has shown an interest in her work.  So it will be interesting to see how this can be developed in the future.

22 July: PhD update and thoughts

Looking back over this past academic year as a part-time student has been challenging but I have survived and am looking forward to the next one.  It is useful now to reassess everything and hopefully move forward more efficiently and effectively!

I went along to everything that was initially on offer for new PhD students,  which was really useful especially as it enabled me to meet other students and to try to establish a peer network.  However,  before too long everyone seemed to bury themselves away to work, but I guess that is the nature of the PhD.  I thought it would be useful to say, meet up once a month if they could escape to exchange ideas, moans etc. and if nothing else to provide mutual support.  So it has ended up just catching up at any meetings so far.

I also signed up for more than the recommended five RDP (research Development Programme) sessions as I felt that there were sessions covering subjects I knew little about.  However, in hindsight perhaps this was not such a good idea as apart from  it taking up time when I could have been working on other things, some of the sessions were more valuable than others .  Next year at least I can repeat any that may be particularly useful and just attend any others I missed this year.

One thing that has shone through everything, is the fact that I feel so fortunate to have got so far and not been written off as seems to be the case in some other universities.  To have my supervisor Karen, has been a light shining through initial teething problems and enabled me to keep on track.  To also be able to discuss anything even if I felt it was at a basic level has been a great help.  A couple of days ago there was a TV report about  a lady of 86 who had just received her doctorate at the University of Bristol, so it is good to hear that I will not be the oldest by the time I finish!

 

PhD Update March 2017

Now that I am sitting down to write and update my blog again, I cannot see any good reason not to have done it sooner!  The year started off with a meeting with my supervisor Karen, having reminded my that as I am part-time, I don’t need to be in a rush and it is better to take things slowly, dig deep and conceptualize what I am looking at.

So since then I have cut down on the number of Research Development Programme meetings I have signed up for.  Although they have been extremely useful and have been an opportunity to find out about something I know nothing about but for some I realised they would not help me, so have taken up time I could have used better elsewhere.  Besides as they are repeated, as time goes on I will know better which will be of the most use to me.  Two recent meetings were about ‘Grounded Theory’ and I immediately realised that this was applicable and could be helpful in working with my subject matter.  These have since led to my reading as much as I can about it to see best how to use it in my work.

I have also been up to London for related events such as two Doctoral Open Days at the British Library.  The second of these (which looked at the 20th century) repeated several of the sessions held at the first one (newspapers and media) so was not felt to be so valuable.  However the sessions were extremely useful in providing links to online resources and providing information about the vast amount of information that is held within the library.

My most recent visit to London was to view some photographic prints and documents relating to focus of my research held at the Imperial War Museum.  It was exciting to see the actual objects ‘in the flesh’ and it particularly enabled me to decide which images  I could possibly include as illustrations in my thesis; especially as some were over exposed and of poor quality.  The only drawback was that if I had wanted to take any images on the day I would have had to purchase a £10 day permit.  So it may be that it is more  cost-effective to pay for downloadable copies to be sent to me, when I have narrowed down the selection.

Apart from that I have been reading as much as possible and also started writing!  Initially it was painful starting, but I soon realised that my previous practice of writing notes on paper rather than putting them on the computer was a very cumbersome way of working, and that it was much easier writing straight onto the computer.  My supervisor had suggested that I sent some writing to her prior to the April meeting, so this was a big motivation to begin.  However I realised that much was dependent on what was submitted.  If it was good then I could progress without undue worry, if it needed attention then this could be addressed, but if it was not up to scratch then I would seriously have to rethink my future steps.  So I ended up submitting around 8,000 words and spent an anxious few days waiting to hear from her.  Her reply was so helpful and encouraging and generally came out as good and at that I was writing at the required post-grad level.  She also provided feedback on areas that could be improved upon.  So this is the best motivation for the future I could have received right now 🙂

A time goes on I have also become more engrossed in the subject matter when possibly one could have maybe lost some interest, but I seem to keep uprooting things that I know nothing about and which provide areas to be investigated further. So I feel a bit like a female ‘Poirot’ right now.  Long may it continue.

26 Nov: PhD Work Update

Following the helpful advice given to me in the Supervisors’ Meeting, I have been attending several Research Development Programme sessions which have been most helpful generally.  It has helped me to focus on areas that I personally feel need to be improved, such as my academic writing.  The problem comes when we are told not to be too ‘academic’, and for our written work to be able to be read by a diverse audience.  By the end of my undergraduate studies I felt as if I had established my own style of writing, and am sure that with some guidance I will reach the required standard – hopefully.

I have spent time since the meeting writing up the notes I had previously prepared for the initial PhD proposal and putting them on OneNote, which has been helpful as it also focussed on different related areas of investigation and in turn possible chapters for the final thesis; such as memory and gender.

Specific items Andrew suggested I addressed were the ‘timeline’ and ‘keywords’.  So using a Word template and adding the expected dates to be taken into account, I was able to plot a potential timeline for the future.  Once I have my next meeting with Karen and I can discuss this further I am sure there will be many adjustments made as time progresses.  However at this stage it will be a good starting point.  Andrew also suggested looking at my ‘Keywords’, so following on from this and a useful library RDP session, I set up RefWorks on the PC,  and to also receive automatic prompts so that when a new article is published in my subject area I am notified; so that hopefully I will stay up to date with current thinking.  During several visits to the library I also downloaded many articles which relate to my work which can now be filed into subject areas for close investigation at a later date.

I have also ordered several new books from Amazon covering such topics as Yasha Bacharova of the Women’s Death Battalion as this directly relates to my area of research and may throw up possible leads to be further investigated.  I also decided to reread ‘Nurse at the Russian Front‘ again and more closely with the Literature Review and my Final Proposal Approval in mind.  I also need to establish a regular working timetable at home, so that all books and articles can be read and notes made for future reference.

The RDP sessions have also been an opportunity to make some contacts with other members of the group, and fully engage with all the opportunities that the university has to offer. I did offer my services to help at one of the Open Days, but felt that this was something more for younger student representatives.  I was in turn contacted by Kate from the Alumni Department, and asked if I would be prepared to give them an interview as they were interested in knowing how I had arrived at doing a PhD at my stage in life. The worst aspect was having a photograph taken, which as a photographer is not easy being on the other side of the lens.  Hopefully the outcome will encourage older people to see the value of study in later life.