Tag Archives: phd

Museums & Wellbeing

So apparently there is a Museums and Wellbeing Week.  This is quite exciting for me as my PhD has taken a wellbeing turn (see below) and now I find a week where museums are promoting wellbeing.

Museums & Wellbeing Week Information

Anyway, I have been working hard on my PhD to the point where I have put in to present at two conferences this year. One with a poster and one with a Pecha-Kucha.  To do this I had to communicate my PhD topic in a more academic fashion than my blog post about is earlier this year.  So I got my head around my literature review plan, and wrote this:

I am exploring how museums can better engage with audiences of diverse communities, such as the communities in Leicester.  Drawing on the work of Chatterjee & Noble (2013), I will be looking at how local museums can better support local communities by creating a sense of belonging.   This will include building on the museums inclusivity in relation to identity and race (Crang & Tolia-Kelly, 2010).

Initially I will be looking into the experiences of family groups from the local Leicester area in the local authority museums focusing on their emotional and sensory experiences (Roberts, 2013; Munro, 2014) to better understand the senses of well-being and belonging in the museum.   I hope that this will be a basis on which museums can better represent their local communities and contribute to wellbeing and create an inclusive museum.

This is what I have submitted to see if anyone wants to hear about my research, and it has been successful.  The poster submission deadline passed and today I found out that I shall be presenting my poster at the Museums in the Global Contemporary Conference in Leicester in April.  The other deadline is the beginning of March so I have a little wait for that one.

Chatterjee, H. and Noble, G. (2013) Museums, health and well-being Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate
Crang, M. and Tolia-Kelly, D.P. (2010) Nation, race and affect: senses and sensibilities at National Heritage sites Environment and planning A., 42 (10) 2315
Munro, E. (2014) Doing emotion work in museums: reconceptualising the role of community engagement practitioners Museums and Society March 2014 12(1) 44-60
Roberts, R.C., (2013) Questions of museum essence: Being, Being With, and finding connection in conversation Museums and Social Issues 8:1&2 pp. 89-101


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Filed under Conferences, Museums, PhD, Uncategorized

Juggling and it’s consequences

Juggling... (c) Dr Seuss

(c) Dr Seuss

This last month has been a little hectic.  I am a full time employee and a part time PhD student.  I am not new to studying while working, in fact my two master’s degrees were completed in this way.  I have found though that the workload (which is my creation, rather than anyone elses) is doubled.  I want to do more reading, more writing and more critical thinking about subjects.  I keep getting sidetracked by subjects that are almost the one I am looking at.  All of that is fine – when I have the time.

I have just spent the last 6 weeks recruiting and training the latest batch of student ambassadors for the university.  This involves talks, applications, assessment centres, then three Wednesdays of training to make sure they are knowledgeable and smiley enough to put in front of visitors.  I have managed to get this done within working hours, so no late nights at work to distract me from studying in the evening.  However, as there isn’t any thinking time during the day.  There is always a task that needs doing that requires some brain power.

Now, many people may be thinking that this is what work is always like, but spend 5 minutes contemplating this.  On a normal day I have a list of things I need to do and I work through them.  There is time in between to have a chat to a colleague, someone drops in and so you stop and chat to them, you finish a task and there is some time to think about the next one, you have time to react to the unexpected and change your plans .  There were days in the last 6 weeks when this didn’t happen, one task finished, straight onto the next one.   It left me exhausted, a couple of nights I went to bed at about 8pm because “my brain had stopped braining”.  (I actually said that one night when I ran out of words!)

This impacted on my PhD work.  I could do the reading, that wasn’t a problem at all, but I had a massive case of writer’s block.  I had the information in my head and in my notes, but could not get it onto a page in any sensible fashion.  Luckily that time is done (until next time).

I have come to terms with this, it is alright to have a month where only reading happens.  As long as there is some progress!

I now have my upgrade paper to begin.

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Standing on the shoulders of giants…

I should have written this post back in December but I have been suffering from an inability to articulate myself for a while.  In the last few days I have climbed over the wall blocking my way and put some tentative words onto the screen in the hope that they will make sense.  I think they will eventually with some editing and poking about.

My supervisor used the phrase ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ during our last meeting to describe where I should be starting my research.  The phrase has really stuck in my head.  It is daunting, but I picture myself climbing up these academic giants in a Jack and the Beanstalk kind of way.  Having looked up the quote (embarrassingly I hadn’t realised its significance until recently) I can see why this is appropriate.  It does not make it any less daunting though.


This is where I feel like I am at the moment.

My problem before my last meeting was that I was going about things all back to front.  I didn’t know where I was in my field or who my giants were.  I also didn’t have an end goal, such as writing the beginning of a literature review or article.  I was floundering and felt like I didn’t know anything at all at one point.  But I do.  I realised that I even know my giants and have met them in person in some cases.   So I feel a little like I started again in December, I have get a routine back, I have organised my reading lists and notes.  I have a system.   But I still had a mental block when it came to writing.

Last night I decided I needed to type something into the word document that had been sitting minimised on my screen for over a week.  I have the notes, I have a plan, I have further reading to do as well, but I needed to put my finger tips to keys and type something.  So I did.  I managed 200 words.  I felt better for it.  I had to come out of my comfort zone of reading and note taking, and I found it wasn’t all that bad.

I don’t know if on track is the right phrase, but I definitely feel that I am making progress.

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Research centres, children and sexuality and supervision, all in one day!

I managed to time my mini-supervision meeting with a Centre for the Study of Youth and Childhood (CSYC) seminar today. So I had a brief lie in, walked (via work as it is on the way) to the railway station and off to Sheffield for the day.

The seminar’s theme was children, sex and sexuality. The first talk was on children using mobile technology, what they get out of it, what they think about it and their experiences. Dr Emma Bond shared some of her findings from a project with 11-17 year olds and how they use their mobile phones. I found this enlightening, particularly the children’s management of their social and family worlds using the phones. The advancement in technology has really left adults behind and we are so off on the advice we are giving children on internet safety and online presence.
The second presentation focused on sexual identities and the media’s influence on children by Dr Jackie Marsh. It highlighted a couple of examples of playground games that were directly influence by music and tv. This talk really highlighted the worries we, as adults, impose on children. We think they are getting the same inferences from tv and music that we are. Their interpretation of media sources is quite different and at primary level they will censor themselves or create situations where they can experience something from an alternative point of view.
Both talks have given me a little more insight into working with young people which will be useful in the day to day job.
Following the seminars was a welcome event for the new researchers at CSYC, I met some new people, others in my position and who are on differing projects. They introduced a number of smaller research groups within the centre so now I have a list of people I want to email and yell “include me!” at.

Then I had my mini-supervision meeting. It seems to be that any length of chat is good with my supervisor (I am hoping this doesn’t change). I met another student working in my area, felt I helped her a little, she is also part time and working full time so we are in the same boat (and just about the same career too). I have a task now, which feels like I am back in familiar territory. The transition from taught programme to research programme is a little daunting, but having a task to do has put me back on familiar ground. Although the task is to write about me, my motivations and my research question. I can see how useful this will be. Already, following our discussion, I can see how my outlook on my project might change. I am also looking forward to writing something again. It will also help my supervisor get to know me better which is going to be invaluable in this working relationship. In addition to this I have a hefty reading list. So the next few weeks will be composing my thoughts, reading and building a new set of bookshelves!

The cat likes reading time, I sit still fr more than five minutes!

Fatty in bed

Fatty in bed

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Being the new student

Well, that was quite a day. I am writing this from the train back home before my brain switches off for the day.

I have titled this “being the new student”, although I have spent all day with other new students, I have realised that unlike other degrees the PhD journey is a very individual one. Or at least that is what they have been telling us today.

Today was PhD Induction Day. I met my fellow cohort, the directors of the research team, other PhD students further along in their journey and my very own supervisor. They throw a lot of information at you on the first day. Some of it sticks. I am going to predict that the rest of it is in the handbook. Things being in the handbook was one of the messages that stuck. Another things that stuck is that Neville the cat is adorable.

Later on I will go through my notes and see what important things I wrote down, and then go through the handouts to take those in again as well. I think that the important things I took away with me are that there are others on their very individual journey as well. Don’t isolate them as they aren’t experiencing the same issues as you or don’t quite understand your topic. Get involved, best foot forward and begin by reading, reading, reading. At least that is what I am going to do until my next supervisory meeting.

I did meet my supervisor briefly, I am pleased I made the time as she is enthusiastic about my work. I left with a book to read and a feeling of her excitement about my project and how her other students will benefit from my expertise and I will benefit from them, as well as hers. It is a different feeling from being a taught student, a refreshing change and one I think I am going to enjoy (even if it takes a while to adapt).

On top of the book, I left Sheffield with a t-shirt and a new student card.

The first big step has been taken!

So as usual, cat picture (not Neville), but the smug face of Fatty.


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So with the impending registration at the University of Sheffield, the end of the larp fest season* and the new careers both myself and Al are embarking on, I decided we needed to de-clutter the house. I say we, it is me that needs it. I also have plans for a bit of a refurb. We have been in the house for about nine years now so it is about time really.

There have been a couple of incidents that have made me realise we have far too much stuff. One was the invitation to go and help out at Empire. This required “new” costume, Al managed to create his entirely from kit stored in the garage. Me? I was going to recycle, but then ended up have ideas and made a new tunic and snood. So now we have even more kit knocking around. I t also meant that we went through a few of the boxes in the garage and could see that there was some kit that was good enough to pass on to others. So project right there.

Another incident was Al bringing home all the stuff he took to school over the last seven years. Thing hands, costume, show and tell stuff….six large boxes of it! That all needs a home.

So generally I have been taking the advice of the Unfuck your habitat app and have been going through the house bit by bit throwing out old broken things, separating out sellable objects, and putting away the good stuff. Its not simple though, it should be. I hold onto too many things that I feel have a sentimental value and don’t have a mechanism for storing them, or presenting them.

I have a couple of goals on top of the general fewer things in the house aim; I would like new bookshelves. So I have been boxing the books ready for the new shelves. If I don’t the new shelves will never happen. I also want a reading nook under the stairs. This means that space needs to stop being a convenient dumping ground.

It is oddly comforting this uncluttering process and strangely addictive. I suspect this is due to my need for keeping busy at the moment. My brain is full of new things happening. I hope the need to do it continues though, once my brain has settled into new ventures.

*I clarify the fest season here as I have seen the numerous debates about seasons and whether they exist in this capacity. Also that there are many more events that take place between October to March.

Here is another cat picture, she is helping with the clean out…honest.


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September 28, 2014 · 7:54 pm