I have been woefully neglectful of this little space over the past year. In the face of the things that keep me busy (PhD, internship, dog, life) and the things that keep me distracted (costume dramas, dog, the terrible things on the news) I have let my non-academic writing fall by the wayside, aside from the occasional guest post for the SGSAH, Centre for Textile Conservation and Pubs & Publications blogs. In attempt to rectify this situation, I thought I would share a little of what this last few months of PhD life has encompassed.
I am at the stage of the PhD where I really should be writing, all day, everyday. Having collected a head (and many notebooks) full of stuff it is time to get this all out on paper. Happily, last month I managed to finish the behemoth museums chapter (17,000 words) that has taken me far to long to wrap up. This forms the second part of my thesis, and addresses the role of dress, and particularly WW1 era dress, in the museum – and questions how museum visitors experience and understand these objects. I do find it hard to focus on writing for very long, and constantly find myself going down the rabbit-hole when I’m supposed to check a simple fact online or on my bookshelf.
Yesterday, I met with a brand new writing group for the very first time. Myself and 3 other Edinburgh based PhDs/ECRs met for a carefully timed writing session in a local cafe. We shared our writing goals, put our phones on aeroplane mode and put our heads down for an hour. After a slightly longer than planned break (for cake) we did another 40 mins. It was such a nice way to work; the change of scene and company was refreshing and the atmosphere was supportive. I managed to get 1000 words down in this first session! We are hoping to make this happen twice a week – and I hope will help me break the back of the thesis. Next week I will be writing about the popularity of blouses during the war.
Torch in Oxford inspired our writing group – an outline of their meetings can be found here.
Conference planning: War Through Other Stuff
This has been such an exciting distraction! With the wonderful Catherine Bateson, Laura Harrison and Roseanne Watt I am co-organising a conference to be held at the University of Edinburgh next February. There is so much to say that I am going to save this for another blog post. The CFP is open for another few days and can be found here.
Research visits are probably my favourite part of my PhD life. As someone who grew up believing that museums were totally magical – it is so exciting to go ‘behind the scenes’ and open up boxes hidden away in storerooms. In the past few months I have been to the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, The Museum of London, the McManus Museum in Dundee, the Courtaulds Archive at the V&A and Platt Hall in Manchester. Each visit has unearthed some total treasures and – i hope – some great stories too. Many of these objects will shape and inform my thesis, and the others help me to build up a clearer picture of WW1 fashion more generally. I am hoping (if time permits) that I will be able to make an appendix of all the objects I’ve found while undertaking this research.
This weekend I am taking a small holiday, and visiting Vienna for the weekend. I am so excited about all the wonderful, Christmassy, cake and beer infused holiday time. Vienna is a very special place for me as my Grandmother (my Oma) was born and grew up there. As a Jewish family they were very lucky to escape in 1937. We are staying a 5 minute walk away from the house they left that year, and I am also going to go and find (for the first time) the site of the factory owned by my Great-Grandfather. A blog post on the trip, and their story, will follow when we get back.
I’m hoping this short catch-up can get me back into the practice of writing here. It is therapeutic, I think, to write quickly with comparatively little editing(!) as a change of pace from thesis writing. As well as the conference and holiday, I plan to write a few updates about my work at the museum, my hunt for a PhD workspace and some recent books and exhibitions that have particularly inspired me. Back soon!