In this series we interview PhD researchers across the arts and humanities in Scotland, and throughout the month of March we’re putting a special focus on women-identifying researchers. In this post, we hear from Erin Walter, who is a PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow.
What year are you in, and at what school?
In January I started my third year in Information Studies, which is situated within the School of Humanities, College of Arts at the University of Glasgow. As most researchers, I am shocked how quickly this research project has progressed. Even after a year conducting research, writing and life from my kitchen, time has flown by.
What’s the working title of your thesis?
‘Reimagining Performance Art Histories: A Curatorial Approach’
How would you describe your thesis to someone you just met?
My thesis is developing a model for the documentation and archiving of performance art. In part this is done through a practice-as-research approach through curatorial intervention. My aim is to create a model that is accessible and practical, flexible to the capacity and resources of artists, curators or others within independent or institutional networks.
What do you like best about your PhD/research/experience thus far? Least?
I enjoy the independence of research and directing where I see this project, its output and future. At one point I greatly enjoyed the shared PhD office and events where there was space to chat about the nuances of the research and its many extracurriculars. The least enjoyable part of the PhD experience for me has been the isolation of being a researcher, especially in a pandemic. This extends not only to the very regrettable lack of office and library access, but also the disappearance of live art events which provided a space for conversation and research. It has been more difficult to build a network within a purely digital existence, and as such it’s quite easy to get lost within the research.
What do you wish you’d known going into your PhD program?
I wish I’d known how to organise my time better. It’s important to be able to balance not only the writing, but also one’s practice and inclusion in publications, conferences and other academic and network opportunities. I think planning this out at the beginning of one’s PhD, alongside a supervisor or a researcher who is further along in their project is a useful consideration. Also, write every day – this is easy to overlook, but consistently revisiting your questions and themes in writing is essential. And of course, don’t forget your own social, personal, and other lives.
What do you do for fun outside of academia?
Outside of academia I spend most of my time reading fiction for the escapism and walking my dog. I’ve been lucky to have a consistent social zoom group over lockdown where we can discuss all things non-PhD / work related, and Twin Peaks. Prior to the pandemic I spent a good deal of time in the cinema and out for drinks. I enjoy playing football, squash, swimming and going to the sauna – my unofficial office.
If you’d like to be featured in the ‘5 Minutes With…’ series, email Danielle.Schwertner@glasgow.ac.uk