Let’s Talk About Mental Health – Essential Links and Resources

Thanks to Nathalie Grey in our alumni engagement team who shared this list from the event held on 4 March 2021…

  • Sandeep Saib’s (QMUL Alumna) personal social media links:
  • Happy Heads Organisation:

Interview with Professor Margaret Reynolds on new book ‘The Wild Track: Adopting, mothering, belonging’

We caught up with our very own Margaret Reynolds to talk about her new Penguin book The Wild Track: Adopting, mothering, belonging.

Professor Reynolds has recently been featured in The Guardian and the Telegraph and has interviews with Talk Radio, Times Radio, Monocle Radio, about the book and her experiences of adoption and writing the book with her daughter Lucy.

Here’s what she could tell us…


Tell us about your new book ‘The Wild Track: Adopting, mothering, belonging’. How did it come about and what can readers expect?

I adopted my daughter 12 years ago when she was six. And from the first, I used to jot down things that happened to us, little stories about our lives together. Then two years ago I heard a couple of things that reminded me how hard adoption can be, how often (very sadly) it does not work out. But we were still here! So I wanted to encourage others, so show how amazing and important adoption can be in helping children – who necessarily have difficult beginnings – in going on to make a success of their lives.

How has it been working with your daughter on the book? What do you think the book has to say to mothers around the world?

I showed the original version of the book to someone who said ‘don’t you think Lucy should have a voice?’. And I knew he was right! Politically, ethically it is always right to listen to the voices of children. So I asked her to write some sections.  In fact, it was great doing this. We have talked a lot about our different experiences and about the things we share.

Mothers are all different. Always, everywhere. There is no such thing as one ‘motherhood’. But there might be overlaps, and there might illumination and there might be a shared understanding, a recognition and acceptance which could be a positive for both mothers and children.

What 3 books would you recommend to readers after reading your book of course?

Jacqueline Rose, Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty, Rachel Cusk, A Life’s Work, Sarah Knott, Mother: An Unconventional History.

Are there any lockdown lifelines that have kept you going in the last year?

Growing vegetables, going for long walks with our dog, watching classic films, cooking, noticing the seasons, planning a long trip to remote Greek islands.

Call for Papers – Queen Mary PGRS Virtual Conference ‘Contagion: Spread the Word’

Queen Mary PGRS Virtual Conference:
Contagion: Spread the Word 12 July 2021

Keynote Speaker: Dr Elizabeth Outka (University of Richmond)
Due to the global pandemic, the word “contagion” may instantly inspire thoughts related to sickness or disease, but “contagion” has numerous metaphorical applications as well. William S. Burroughs in The Adding Machine (1986) states that:

“The Word is literally a virus, and that it has not been recognized as such because it has achieved a state of relatively stable symbiosis with its human host […]. The Word clearly bears the single identifying feature of virus: it is an organism with no internal function other than to replicate it-self.”


This one-day, interdisciplinary conference is organised by the English Department’s Postgraduate Research Seminar (PGRS) Committee at Queen Mary University of London: https://queenmaryenglish.wordpress.com/conferences/contagion-conference/.

We welcome proposals from graduate researchers in literature and related disciplines that ex-plore the theme of “contagion” across periods and genres.
We encourage broad interpretations of the theme.

  • Possible topics include but are not limited to:
  • Historical outbreaks of disease
  • Epidemiology literature
  • Legal developments regarding medicine and medical qualifications
  • Medical figures in history and literature
  • Sickness/disease as metaphor
  • Spread of literacy and knowledge vs censorship
  • Letters and postal systems, epistolary novels
  • Spread of literature through social media
  • Spread of (mis)information
  • Illness and prejudice
  • Imaginative contagion (e.g. the outbreak narrative, ‘zombie culture’, vampire fiction)
  • Bloodlines and the preoccupation with birth and class
  • Migration narratives and travel writing

A 250-word abstract and 50-word biography should be submitted to qmenglishpgrs@qmul.ac.uk by 1st May 2021.

AHRC LAHP Collaborative Doctoral Award: ‘Decolonising the Sloane Herbarium’

Decolonising the Sloane Herbarium

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and the Natural History Museum (NHM) are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded doctoral grant from October 2021.

This studentship is funded for 3.5 years full time (or part-time equivalent). The project will investigate provenance information for the botanical specimens in the Sloane Herbarium, a foundation collection of NHM, to re-imagine our understanding of its global and imperial dimensions.

The successful candidate will combine archival research and special collections handling with digital methods for structuring humanities data in order to surface hidden histories within the Sloane Herbarium, not least by building a resource that supports future generations of scholars.

A full description of the project objectives and application process is available in the Further Particulars.

This studentship is funded through the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDA) scheme via the London Arts & Humanities Partnership (LAHP) of which QMUL is a member. The studentship includes a stipend at the Research Council UK Home / EU rate (£17,609 per annum in 2021/22) plus fees for 3.5 years. The awarded candidate will also be entitled to a £550 per annum stipend top-up. Studentships can be either full or part-time. As a LAHP student, the successful candidate will have full access to the LAHP Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 90 students per year.

CDA grants provide funding for doctoral students to work on a project in collaboration with an organisation outside higher education. They are intended to encourage and develop collaboration and partnerships and to provide opportunities for doctoral students to gain first-hand experience of work outside the university environment. They enhance the employment-related skills and training available to the research student during the course of the award. Collaborative Doctoral Awards are not only a route into academia but also provide hands-on work experience in the cultural sector and transferrable skills.

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Richard Coulton (QMUL) and Dr Mark Carine (NHM), with further supervisory input from Professor Markman Ellis (QMUL) and Miranda Lowe (NHM). The student will be expected to spend time at both QMUL and NHM, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of LAHP funded students across the capital.

We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for this Collaborative Doctoral Award and are committed to welcoming applicants from different backgrounds. Candidates may come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds (e.g. archaeology, anthropology, literary or cultural studies, history, heritage studies, natural history, history and philosophy of science, museum studies, archive and information studies). Some experience of historical collections handling and/or digital humanities will be of benefit.

Potential candidates are welcome to contact Dr Richard Coulton (r.x.coulton@qmul.ac.uk) and Dr Mark Carine (m.carine@nhm.ac.uk) before preparing an application.

The successful candidate will commence their PhD in October 2021. They will hold their doctoral training grant in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary University of London, and will work in partnership with the Natural History Museum.

Applications must be made in two phases:
Firstly to QMUL by 5pm on Friday 29 January 2021
Secondly to LAHP by 5pm on Friday 5 February 2021

You must complete the QMUL process first in order to include your QMUL application ID reference number on the LAHP CDA application form.

Interview date: TBC (late March / early April)

Women / Theatre / Justice Project Launches with Website, Twitter + Events

Our very own Caoimhe McAvinchey is part of the research team on this innovative AHRC project around Clean Break Theatre company and working with women in the criminal justice system.

Events as part of the series include Working with Incarcerated Women in the Context of COVID 19.

The aim

The Women/Theatre/Justice project aims to:

  • Examine Clean Break’s impact on contemporary British theatre and the lives of the women it works with.
  • Examine Clean Break as an organisation, run by women for women, with distinctive organisational practices characterised by learning through listening to the voices of those involved in its work. It considers the implications of these practices for management and leadership more widely. 
  • Create opportunities for artists, academics, women with experience of the criminal justice system and those who work with them, to share their expertise through seminars, training, podcasts and teaching resources. 

The research is supported by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and Women in Prison.

About the project

Women/Theatre/Justice is the umbrella title for research and public engagement activities that are part of Clean Break: Women, Theatre, Organisation and the Criminal Justice System (2019-2021). This interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project is led by academics in theatre and performance studies and work and employment relations, in partnership with Clean Break theatre company.

Clean Break was initiated by women in HMP Askham Grange (UK) in 1977 and has since become an internationally recognised theatre, education and advocacy organisation that places stories of women, crime and punishment centre stage. 

Through seminars, conferences, training, exhibitions, podcasts and publications, the project examines wider issues including: the criminalisation of women; theatre practices with incarcerated women in different cultural contexts; gender, organisation and leadership; worker voice; the role of higher education in partnerships within the criminal justice system; implications of COVID-19 for incarcerated women and the response of arts organisations.

A Season of Bangla Drama 2020 – An Unmissable British-Bengali Lockdown Treat

A Season of Bangla Drama

12-21 November – Online

Join a festival of free online events including coming of age poetry by local young people, a cook-a-long, community panels and eye-opening plays that explore the British-Bengali perspective. QMUL is a key partner and sponsor.

3 Things Still to Do in Black History Month

1. Diaspora Speaks and PEACH Magazine are excited to present: On Black Voices! – 22 October

2. Ankhi Mukherjee is talking about Nigerian American writer and photographer Teju Cole for our Lisa Jardine Annual English Lecture – 22 October

3. Prof Susheila Nasta MBE is in conversation with Helen Thomas

Professor Susheila Nasta MBE and Dr Helen Thomas will discuss their long histories within the world of black writing and publishing.

The event will celebrate the publication of a free e-book: Black Agents Provocateurs – 250 Years of Black British Writing, History and the Law, 1770-2020 written by Helen Thomas and also the publication of the first Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing, edited by Susheila Nasta and Mark Stein.

They will discuss questions around:

  • the politics of publishing and editing
  • how they created their books
  • shifting definitions of black British writing
  • he importance of decolonising the school and university curricula

Mad Hearts – Arts and Mental Health – 2020 Conference – Key Takeaways

by Magali Kelly Frea Scholtis, MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health

Mad Hearts 2021 is in planning now so please follow us on Twitter to find out when booking opens.

On Friday 19 June 2020, the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health organised the Second Edition of the Mad Hearts Conference, with the theme ‘Solitude and the Encounter’.

This one-day webinar included a conversation with Professor Femi Oyebode, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Birmingham, about the inner self and the function of imagination, drawing insights from Fernando Pessoa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet’. This was followed by Laura E. Fischer, an artist, mental health activist, and survivor-researcher who specialises in trauma. She spoke of reclaiming authorship of the trauma narrative through creative expression and she discussed how healing through art depends on three components: survivor leadership, embodiment and creativity.

The final speaker was John Richardson, a filmmaker (see Simon Says: Psychosis) and podcast presenter (Coffee and Psychosis), who sheds light on the mental health system through his documentary work. He spoke of his encounters with the mental health system, what was helpful and unhelpful to his recovery, and how he strives to be true to his values and remain authentic despite the pressure to conform to corporate views both in mental health and in film-making.

After the talks, three artists were nominated to discuss their creative work, which were submitted to the Creative Enquiry stream of the conference, together with a reflection on the theme ‘Solitude and the Encounter’. The painting ‘Shades of Solitude’ by Grace Catchpole, uses colour to capture the nuances of the experience of loneliness, from a peaceful place to rest to a darker experience of grief. The short film ‘Sound’ by Lorna V. represents the funny side of a missed online encounter, that between a client and her therapist, when the client can’t be heard because of a technological glitch and ends up talking to herself. Finally, the short animation ‘Plastic Bag’ by Harris Nageswaran reveals the power of a plastic bag to carry goods but especially love and care to those isolated in hospitals during the lockdown. The artwork ‘Isolation, a familiar issue disguised differently’, by Muhammad Umer, was chosen as the image for Mad Hearts 2020 for its portrayal of a person seen and not seen by the viewers, through the partly deceptive reflection of a mirror. You can view all submissions on the following website: https://sites.google.com/view/mad-hearts-2020/home.

Plastic Bag by Harris Nageswaran
Plastic Bag by Harris Nageswaran

The Mad Hearts Conference ended with a group discussion that included both participants and speakers. During these conversations, we heard from people from all different backgrounds, such as specialists in mental health, users of mental health services, medical students and students of the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health. Together we delved into contemporary encounters concerning the arts and mental health, uniting clinical, artistic and research perspectives.

During said discussions, we reflected on the contribution of the arts to mental health practice, the agency in one’s own healing, equality in mental health services and the power of isolation. These conversations are important to encourage re-interpretations of contemporary mental health science and practice. It is thus crucial that we continue these discussions!

Mad Hearts 2021 is in planning now so please follow us on Twitter to find out when booking opens.

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme 2020-21 – Applications Invited

Early career researchers seeking support for their application to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme are invited to get in contact with us as soon as possible

Deadline for applications: midday on Wednesday 16 September 2020

The School of English and Drama invites early career researchers seeking support for their application to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme to get in touch by submitting:

(1) an explanation of the reason(s) for your choice of Queen Mary as the host institution (150 words maximum)

(2) an outline of your proposed programme of research (1,500 words maximum)

(3) details of your planned research outputs, e.g. monograph, journal article(s), book chapter(s), digital resources, events, other (please specify) (300 words maximum)

(4) a list of existing publications (1 page maximum)

(5) a CV (2 pages maximum)

Please submit the above documents to Dr Huw Marsh, Research Manager, sed-research@qmul.ac.uk, by no later than midday on Wednesday 16 September 2020. Please state ‘British Academy PDRF’ in the subject line.

Your application should demonstrate:

  • that you are eligible according to the BA’s criteria
  • the excellence of
    • your research track record and professional track record (where relevant);
    • your academic record;
    • the research outputs you propose, how you will structure, pursue, and complete it in the time frame, and its importance;
  • the relevance of QMUL SED to your research and vice versa;
  • who you would like as a mentor and why.

You are strongly encouraged, before submitting your application and time permitting, to find a mentor, provisionally agree their support, and get some feedback from them on a draft application.

Full scheme details can be found on the British Academy website: http://www.britac.ac.uk/british-academy-postdoctoral-fellowships

All outline proposals will be considered by our Directors of Research and those that we give institutional support to will have approximately one month to finalise their online application, due in mid-October 2020 (precise date tbc by the British Academy).

New books published by Rachael Gilmour and Huw Marsh

The School of English and Drama are delighted to announce the publication of ‘Bad English‘ by Dr Rachael Gilmour and ‘The Comic Turn in Contemporary English Fiction‘ by Dr Huw Marsh.

Read more about the books below…

Bad English

Literature, multilingualism, and the politics of language in contemporary Britain

Dr Rachael Gilmour

Bad English investigates the impact of increasing language diversity, precipitated by migration, globalisation, and new forms of communication, in transforming contemporary literature in Britain. Considering writers whose work engages experimentally, playfully, and ambivalently with English’s power, while exploring what it means to move between forms of language, it makes the case for literature as the pre-eminent medium to probe the terms of linguistic belonging, and for a diverse and growing field of writing in Britain defined by its inside/outside relationship to English in its institutionalised forms.

Bad English offers innovative readings of writers including James Kelman, Tom Leonard, Suhayl Saadi, Raman Mundair, Daljit Nagra, Xiaolu Guo, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, and Caroline Bergvall. Drawing on insights from applied linguistics and translation studies as well as literary scholarship, it will appeal to students and academics across these disciplines.

The Comic Turn in Contemporary English Fiction

Who’s Laughing Now?

Dr Huw Marsh

The Comic Turn in Contemporary English Fiction explores the importance of comedy in contemporary literature and culture. In an era largely defined by a mood of crisis, bleakness, cruelty, melancholia, environmental catastrophe and collapse, Huw Marsh argues that contemporary fiction is as likely to treat these subjects comically as it is to treat them gravely, and that the recognition and proper analysis of this humour opens up new ways to think about literature. Structured around readings of authors including Martin Amis, Nicola Barker, Julian Barnes, Jonathan Coe, Howard Jacobson, Magnus Mills and Zadie Smith, this book suggests not only that much of the most interesting contemporary writing is funny and that there is a comic tendency in contemporary fiction, but also that this humour, this comic licence, allows writers of contemporary fiction to do peculiar and interesting things – things that are funny in the sense of odd or strange and that may in turn inspire a funny turn in readers. Marsh offers a series of original critical and theoretical frameworks for discussing questions of literary genre, style, affect and politics, demonstrating that comedy is an often neglected mode that plays a generative role in much of the most interesting contemporary writing, creating sites of rich political, stylistic, cognitive and ethical contestation whose analysis offers a new perspective on the present.

Karina Lickorish Quinn (PhD at QMUL)’s debut novel Mancharisqa to be published by Oneworld

Creative Writing PhD Karina Lickorish Quinn’s debut novel Mancharisqa, or The Dust Never Settles will be published by Juliet Mabey at Oneworld Publications after a competitive auction.

Mancharisqa is an ambitious and formally inventive literary epic about haunting and counterhistories, adopting the traditional Andean concept of cyclical time in a manner reminiscent of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and the novels of Bolaño, suffused with the surreal atmosphere of Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled.

Mancharisqa formed part of Karina’ PhD thesis, which she completed at School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London under the supervision of Director of Creative Writing, Professor Patrick Flanery and Head of English, Dr Rachael Gilmour.

Anaïs Echeverría Gest flies to Lima to oversee the sale of her childhood home, La Casa Echeverría. It is a house full of ghosts, literal and otherwise, of her ancestors and of the maid who fell to her death from its balcony, around whom myths circulate and from whom miracles are sought. Everything that happens – in Anaïs’s childhood, her return to the house in the present day, and in all the stories in between – begins to overlap until the stories are all inextricably entwined. The novel ends with a birth, an earthquake, and the discovery of something disturbing beneath that cursed yellow house on the hill – the past will not remain silent and the ancestors demand to be reckoned with.

Juliet Mabey, the acquiring editor at Oneworld, comments, ‘I fell completely and utterly in love with this mesmerising, intense, multi-layered novel as soon as I started reading. The tone is wonderfully mystical and haunting, with echoes of other great Latin American writers without feeling remotely derivative. A stunningly original saga of an expansive, complex, troubled family in Peru, it is conveyed with a lightness of touch that belies its debut status, and I could not be more thrilled to feature Karina’s astonishing writing on my literary fiction list. There is really nothing else like it.’

“I’m thrilled to be joining Oneworld and their list of remarkable, talented authors. I have long admired Juliet Mabey and Oneworld for their commitment to introducing readers to a range of cultures and voices from across the world. And thank you to my wonderful agent, Seren Adams, for believing in me and my work. Mancharisqa could not have found a better home.”

Karina is a bilingual, Peruvian-British writer. She has a BA from Oxford University, an MA from UCL, and recently completed her PhD in Creative Writing here at Queen Mary University of London. Her short fiction is featured in Un Nuevo Sol, the first major anthology of British-Latinx writers, published by Flipped Eye Publishing. Her work has also appeared in Longitūdinēs, The Offing, Asymptote, The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism, and Palabritas. In 2016 she was shortlisted for The White Review’s short story prize.

SED Head of School Response: police killings and Black Lives Matter

Dear students studying in the School of English and Drama,

I’m writing to you in response to the recent police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the USA and the assault on Belly Mujinga in London, and the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and distress, among many others, across the USA, and here in the UK, including in our student and staff bodies.

On behalf of the School of English and Drama, I condemn these acts of violence and the structural and institutional racism that underpins them. I fully support the Black Lives Matter movement in challenging all forms of racism and committing to ensuring dignity, safety, liberty, and self-determination for Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic and global majority communities.

Structural and institutional racism is not confined to the USA but is very much present in the UK, and globally, and is a powerful force in preventing equal life opportunities for people of colour. The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, has both exposed and exacerbated the structural inequalities faced by many minorities, most significantly Black, Asian, and disabled people.

Universities have a key role to play in combatting racism and all forms of discrimination. I am committed to this work in the School of English and Drama. This involves continued acknowledgment and work to redress disadvantages experienced variously by our students and colleagues of colour. These manifest, for example, in differences in degree outcomes between our Black, Asian, and minority ethnic/global-majority students and white students, and significantly fewer colleagues of colour in senior leadership roles than white colleagues. It’s important, here, to acknowledge that we also have a majority white staff base in the School, and that many of us, myself included, have benefited from advantages and privileges accorded structurally, socially and culturally to white people, especially with respect to our educational and career development opportunities.

Affirming a commitment to equalities and anti-racist work is vital and action is more crucial still. We have been working to address inequalities in the School, especially in relation to race and ethnicity, through our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, co-chaired by Zara Dinnen and myself; revisions to our curriculum; more extensive student support; a dedicated EDI student representative on our Staff Student Liaison Committees; and a commitment to equality in our research, for example. This is not the time, though, to be individually or collectively self-congratulatory or complacent. Through our work we know there is much more to be done, especially as we address the impact of Covid-19 and the decisions that we’re making for 2020-21 (and beyond) on staff and students.

We stand in solidarity with our students of colour. With my colleagues in the School Management Group, I affirm the School’s ongoing commitment to listening to students and working together across our School community, to address structural racism. This work is carried out though our department, School, Faculty and University governance structures, alongside informal conversations with, and between, staff and students. It is not the responsibility of our Black, Asian, and minority ethnic/global majority colleagues and students to bear the burden of this work. It is, rather, a collective endeavour, led by those of us entrusted with leadership positions.

For links to a wide range of excellent resources and donation funds, please visit QMSU’s Black Lives Matter webpage.

I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please be in touch at sed-information@qmul.ac.uk, or if you’d prefer to write to me directly, please email sed-hos@qmul.ac.uk.

In solidarity,

Catherine

Catherine Silverstone

Head of the School of English and Drama

Related blog posts

SED Final Years: Dissertation Hall of Fame – Win £25 Love2Shop Voucher with your Selfie or MEME #SEDHallofFame

To celebrate 🎉 our final year students handing in their final projects/dissertations we’re looking for your dissertation selfies 🤳 and memes 🤣.

You could win a £25 Love2Shop voucher for sharing your dissertation selfie or meme.

Give us the a pic with the story of your disso or make a gag-worthy MEME to win!

How to enter…

  1. Email us your picture or MEME, full name and caption to: sed-web@qmul.ac.uk
  2. Tag us @QMULSED on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #SEDHallofFame
  3. Message or post to our Facebook Page here

Entry closes on 3 July 2020 at 5pm. Our team will pick the winners on or shortly after 3 July so please get your entry in before then! There will be 2 winners one for selfie and one for meme. We will contact winners via email so keep an eye out on your inbox after 15 June.


Fahima Begum – BA English

Samiha Begum – BA English

Aysel Dilara Kasap- BA English with Creative Writing

Chloe Hocking – BA English

“I have had the most amazing time at QM over the last three years. I’ve met some soulmates. Had a few breakdowns. Hit my limit of daily replacement library cards. Spent £49000 on coffee. And had most of the happiest moments of my life. I know that this dissertation doesn’t sum up everything I’ve learnt and everything that I can do now (notably, go to the shop without having a panic attack). But it was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And I’m proud of myself for doing it. A huge thank you to every lecturer, advisor, member of staff, and student for helping me through. From helping me choose a dissertation topic to making me a coffee with a smile. Also- to everyone who is still working on their dissertations- you can do this and you will do this. Remember not to compare your own academic achievements to other people’s because yours are just as brilliant and just as important. Okay I’m done now. Gonna go drink, eat, and watch Netflix… Until I have to start the next one.”

Hana Hussein – BA English with Creative Writing

“1 word down 9,999 to go”

Kirsten Murray – BA English

“Standing in the North Sea was not the original dissertation hand in photo I had in mind. Although I am currently some 300 miles from the bustling city of London, my time at Queen Mary has enhanced my passion for literature and developed my personal and academic confidence. The supportive SED staff have even inspired me to continue my studies at the University of Cambridge in a genre, Romanticism, I initially loathed when I arrived in London three years ago.”

Christian Richardson – BA English with Creative Writing

Christopher Smith – BA English

Eleni Sophia – BA English

View this post on Instagram

Yay! Three years & many matcha lattes later, I became a CEO, an author of three poetry collections and completed my dissertation 🙌🏼🥂 I’m so grateful for my time at Queen Mary; both, the @qmulsed & the enterprise department have helped me expand Perspective Press Global and I’m so thankful 🙌🏼 Anyone who’s starting university, please take each opportunity as it comes: go to events, make use of your careers departments — it doesn’t matter if you don’t know anybody, go alone! It can be scary but you never know what opportunities may rise ✨ I’ve also just hired my first employee & I’m super excited to see where my journey takes me 🌺 Thank you to everyone who’s purchased a copy of either book — I appreciate you all so much 💫 Lots of love, Eleni Sophia 🥂

A post shared by Perspective Press Global Ltd (@perspectivepressglobal) on

Demi Whitnell – BA English

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership training grant: ‘The Duchess of Botany: Mary Somerset, Jacob Bobart, and the Formation of the Oxford Botanic Garden’

The Duchess of Botany: Mary Somerset, Jacob Bobart, and the Formation of the Oxford Botanic Garden

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (OBGA) are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded doctoral grant from January 2021.

This studentship is funded for 4 years full time (or part-time equivalent). It directly complements attention to OBGA’s heritage in preparation for celebrating the Botanic Garden’s 400th anniversary in 2021 by exploring key aspects of its early history.

Research will examine the material and intellectual networks that supported the development of its plant collections and institutional structures during the later seventeenth century, with a particular focus on two intriguing figures: the elite female botanical collector, Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort; and the Botanic Garden’s second superintendent, Jacob Bobart the younger.

Please note that an earlier recruitment process for this studentship (in February / March 2020) did not conclude due to the coronavirus pandemic and consequent UK lockdown. Previous applicants are eligible to re-apply without fear or favour.

A full description of the project objectives and application process is available in the Further Particulars.

This doctoral training grant is funded through the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme. Collaboration between a Higher Education Institution and a museum, library, archive, or heritage organisation is the essential feature of these doctoral training grants. The doctoral training grant is fully funded (living stipend and tuition fees) at UKRI rates and is subject to standard AHRC eligibility, rules, and guidance for the research students whom they fund and support. AHRC’s minimum stipend rate and indicative fees rate for 2020/21 are detailed on the UKRI website. This studentship also offers generous research expenses (including support for travel between QMUL and OBGA), specialist training, and access to shared working space at both institutions.

CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 4 years (or part-time equivalent), of which 3 years 6 months are to be focused on the project and the remaining 6 months on career development activity. (There is an option to commute up to 3 months of the funded period for career development in order to finance approved training costs, in which case the duration of the studentship is reduced from 48 to 45 months). The award holder will be appropriately embedded for a period on this basis within the education team at OBGA, and will be encouraged to explore possible placements with external partners, including the Natural History Museum in London and University of Padua Botanic Garden.

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Richard Coulton (QMUL) and Professor Simon Hiscock (OBGA). The student will be expected to spend time at both QMUL and OBGA, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.

Candidates with interests in the history of science, garden and landscape studies, material history, exchange networks, and the history of collections will be especially welcome, as will those with relevant historical interests in heritage management and museum studies. Potential candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Richard Coulton (r.x.coulton@qmul.ac.uk) and Professor Simon Hiscock (simon.hiscock@obg.ox.ac.uk) before preparing an application.

The successful candidate will commence their PhD in January 2021. They will hold their doctoral training grant in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary University of London, and will work in partnership with University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum.

Application deadline: 5pm on Friday 4 September, 2020

Interview date: TBC (late September / early October)

Interview: Dominic Johnson – Professor of Performance and Visual Culture at QMUL

Dominic Johnson is a Professor of Performance and Visual Culture in our department of Drama. In his profile below, he discusses his research which engages with LGBTQIA+ histories and practices, his work with living artists and his connection with the Pathology Museum.

How long have you worked at Queen Mary?

I’ve been at Queen Mary as a permanent member of staff since 2006. I worked here for a year before that whilst I was finishing my PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art on the artist Jack Smith, who was a pioneer in queer theatre and performance art in New York in the 60s and 70s.

Could you tell us about your involvement in LGBT+ History month?

My research engages with LGBTQIA+ histories and practices. I’ve been documenting and historicising the relationship between performance and visual culture and sexual practices and sexual identities. I’ve been looking at artists who identify as LGBTQIA+ and whose work is critical to histories of sexuality and sexual practices.  An example of this is working on an artist who uses S&M practices in his work and thinking about the ethics and politics of trafficking a sexual practice into a performance.

I’ve also examined how representations of sexual practices invite contact with the law. For example, in my book, Unlimited Action: The Performance of Extremity in the 1970s, there is a chapter on Genesis P-Orridge who was arrested and convicted for indecency for producing and disseminating collages featuring the Queen and commercially-produced pornography.

Describe your average day/week

I teach the bulk of the week so I am busy with my students. I set up and convene the MA Live Art and I also run postgraduate taught programmes in Drama.

I also do research, which might include working directly with artists for example through studio visits, as well as work in archives and arts organisations. I’m a co-founder of the Sexual Cultures Research Group and we have put on some really exciting events. I’m also on the board of directors of the Live Art Development Agency.

In July I’ll be taking over as Head of Drama, so that will be a big change.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I enjoy working with students, especially the MA students as they really focus in on their aspirations. Teaching works best when it is an active co-creation of knowledge. When a class goes well, you go in and propose something you haven’t fully articulated and through the process of presenting and discussing it, something profound might come about.

I feel really privileged as a researcher as I get to work with and spend time with artists. For example, I recently worked with the artist Skip Arnold in Marseilles. It was really exciting to spend time with an artist who has been making important work for a really long time and to collaborate together: we ended up organising an event together in London at the Live Art Development Agency – I’m also publishing a journal article on his work later this year. I find that exciting, thrilling and joyful. I’ve had similar encounters with a lot of different artists and I get to see performances all around the world: I recently went on research trips to Mexico City, Los Angeles and Tokyo.

What do you see as your role in helping the University achieve its Strategy 2030?

The key strategies in, but also around, the published one have to be about continuing to increase Widening Participation. Universities such as this one need to encourage diversity – especially in terms of race and ability – amongst its staff and students. The other strategy I had a hand in shaping was the Arts and Culture Strategy, which runs until 2022 and is about encouraging wellbeing through the arts, enabling access to the arts, and how it enhances life for all students – and not just those studying courses in the arts and humanities.

What’s your favourite place on any of our campuses?

My favourite place is the Pathology Museum. I’ve done a few events with Carla Valentine, the Assistant Curator, including giving a lecture, and taking students there on a second year drama module to learn about the archives. I’ve been working with the Queen Mary archives to acquire live art collections. We have recently acquired archives for Ian Hinchliffe and Jon John. Jon John’s archive includes huge amounts of blood-covered canvases, piercing instruments, and other surprising materials that remind me of  the specialist artefacts in the Pathology Museum.

If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Queen Mary, what would it be?

It’s in the East End and that is really crucial. It is such a rich and diverse environment. Everything is on our doorstep, especially in terms of performance and live art. You can go to the Whitechapel Gallery down the road and access gems such as Live Art Development Agency in Bethnal Green, Toynbee Studios in Aldgate, and Acme Studios across the Mile End Park.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, pastimes outside of work?

I box at a gym called Blok in Clapton twice a week. I’ve been boxing for a couple of years. I just went to a class one day and totally loved it and I feel like it’s great to do a form of exercise where you are constantly learning – at the same time it clears your mind so intensely of all the things I otherwise have to worry about. It feels deeply primal.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I published a book in 2015 called The Art of Living which included long interviews with 14 artists or groups. I would invite them because the conversations I had with them were totally thrilling and enjoyable. Three of them have passed away since – each of them were friends – so it would be really nice to talk to them again.

This interview was originally published on our staff website Connected.