This Academic Life – July 2015

It has been another busy month so time for my regular round-up post on my more ‘traditional’ academic activities!

After conference season (see last month’s ‘Adademic Life’ post), I have been busy writing.

Queue several weeks where I have barely left my office and have tried to draw together the various strands of my research into coherent threads, and to express my ideas with clarity in my book chapters.

Quite a few people seem interested in the writing process. It is different for everyone: personally, I prefer to work in silence, on a desktop computer sitting at my desk, with my books at arm’s reach. I try not to check email until the afternoon – by then, what I think of as my “research brain” is tired, and I’m ready to address administrative emails / form filling in etc.

But no researcher is an island (not even those of us working on islands!). At times like these, keeping in touch with friends and other colleagues is essential. As we tend not to work in research teams in the Arts, and are often still working to the ‘lone scholar’ model, it is really important to schedule ‘structured’ contact with others – either in person or via skype etc. This gives added perspective on what we are doing, and helps us see the wood for the trees. These support networks are vital!

In other news, this month, as part of my public engagement and impact activities, I have published an article on my Zobel research with The Guardian Higher Education Network online.

Me outside the British LibraryThe article describes my “Indiana Jones moment” when I realised that a watercolour in the British Library was mislabelled, and held a secret connection to Joseph Zobel:

http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/jul/30/my-indiana-jones-moment-the-day-i-uncovered-an-error-in-the-archives

It has been a new experience for me to write for The Guardian, and it has been both challenging and fascinating to see how to shape my research for wider audiences. I hope if nothing else the article will encourage people to learn more about the French Caribbean and Zobel, and maybe it will help other Early Career Researchers out there to tell similar stories about the different aspects of the research process.

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