This is the first installment of our ‘5 minutes with…’ series, where we interview PhD researchers across the arts and humanities in Scotland. Our first guest is Katie Hart from the University of Glasgow.
What year of your PhD are you currently in?
I’m in my second year!
What’s the working title of your thesis?
Currently, the working title is ‘Theatre and National Identity: Scottish Women 1997-2017’, but that will change soon, I’m just waiting for inspiration for a better one!
Describe your research in three words (can be keywords or something non-serious!)
On a good day I’d tell you it’s the ‘best project ever’, on a bad day I’d describe it as ‘pile of crap’…but in all seriousness, I’d say the three keywords about this project are probably culture, identity and gender.
What research questions are you considering right now?
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this but I’m constantly thinking about whether my research questions are the right questions, I’m always envious of people who can sort of list them off confidently like a shopping list because mine always seem a bit uncertain. For the bit of the project I’m working on right now I’d say the two most important questions are ‘what does it mean to be a cultural leader?’ and ‘How can women’s theatrical activity produce new knowledge of the relationship between gender and national identity in contemporary Scotland?’
If you were to introduce someone new to your subject area, what one piece of reading would you recommend, and why?
This is a hard one! If they wanted to understand a little bit more about the gender imbalances in Scottish theatre, I’d recommend a report called Calm Down Dear which was put together by Stellar Quines Theatre Company. If they’re wanting to know more about the relationship between theatre and national identity I’d say Nadine Holdsworth’s Theatre & Nation gives a really clear, succinct introduction to the topic. Yes, I know that was two and you asked for one but…come on! Who can pick one text?! I’d like to give at least five…
What’s been the most useful piece of advice given to you about doing a PhD?
Comparison is the thief of joy. The weirdest thing to me is that a PhD is simultaneously a very lonely endeavour and one where you are constantly surrounded by other people telling you all of the things they are doing and all of the things you should be doing. I spent my entire undergraduate and masters degrees looking over my shoulder at the person next to me, constantly feeling less intelligent than my friends, always feeling like I had to work ten times as hard to do half as well. I convinced myself that everyone else thought that way about me too. I found it really hard to believe that I had been accepted to do a PhD, and at the start of the process I just spent all of my time comparing myself to those around me, falling back into the old habit of assuming that because other people were smart and successful it meant that I couldn’t be. The truth is that there will always be people telling you how great their project is, how many conferences they’ve been accepted for and how easy they find it all. There will always be people who feel the need to give you unsolicited advice on how they would do your project, or what they think you should be researching instead. These people will also manage to be on top of their PhD and their life. They’ll spend their weekends baking bread and doing DIY projects, while you spend yours watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram. And all of that is okay. There’s no right way to do a PhD, there’s just the version that works best for you. Their success does not meant that there is no space left for you. There’s plenty of room for us all at the finish line.
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