Sunday, 3 July 2011

A life in limbo

September is going to be a watershed month for me as my youngest daughter Molly starts school full time. Whenever I mention this to anyone I always get asked the same question, 'What are you going to do with yourself?". And that all rather depends on the outcome of the next 2 months.....

I've been running my own business from home for the past 3 years, and I'd always envisaged that, when both the girls were at school, this would free me up to work during much more traditional hours - i.e. between 9am and 3pm whilst they are school - as opposed to snatching odd moments here and there and largely working in the evenings and at weekends.

However, last month, I took the unexpected decision to apply to do a PhD. It's 20 years since I graduated from Kent University, where I studied Comparative Literary Studies & English, and I can honestly say that in all those 20 years it had never crossed my mind to go back to university. However, a chance remark from a friend who had seen this particular research studentship advertised at my local university sparked my interest, and when I read the advert it seemed like it was made for me - it was almost too good to be true.

I contacted the supervising Professor and gave her a summary of my academic background and subsequent career and asked if it was worth me making an application. Her reply was positive and she gave me lots of advice as to what I should include in my application and research proposal.

The position is within the Research Institute for Media Art & Design, and the area of study is Cross Media - books that have crossed over into digital media, i.e. film, TV, ebooks, games etc. The whole subject area got me ridiculously excited and for weeks my mind was bubbling over with great books that have been adapted into films or TV series. I revisted old favourites, I rented DVDs to watch and I made lists of book/film combinations I would love to study. Quite frankly I was spoilt for choice but in the end I decided to mix the old with the new and apply some of the newer skills in social media that I have aquired over the past few years with my marketing background and I came up with the following area of research:

What can be learned from the phenomenon of Twilight and its main characters Bella & Edward, which could be used to ‘rebrand’ Emily Bronte’s Cathy & Heathcliff for young readers in 2011?

I have no idea if this is any good or what the Faculty might be looking for. I feel completely out of touch with the world of academia and I'm aware I may be way out of my depth compared to some of the other candidates.

But what it has done is allow me to dream a little. What if I do get accepted? I would get to spend the next 3 years steeped in books and learning and research - things I absolutely love and never thought would be part of my life again. My 3 years at university, between the ages of 18 and 21, were happy and life changing in so many ways, but the academic element was almost incidental. 20 years on I would appreciate the opportunity and the experience of student life in such a different way. I almost don't dare allow myself to dream that it might actually all come to pass.

The closing date for applications was 30th June so I am currently watching my post box and Inbox with fear and trepidation to see if I get selected for interview.
But everything about it just feels right. The timing, the subject, the location all couldn't be more perfect.

So, when someone asks me what I'm going to do with all my free time, come September, I just cross everything and dream a little dream.....


Sandy Calico said...

Oh wow, how exciting! Fingers crossed for you x

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