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 Lorna Wallace, who is a PhD researcher at the University of Stirling.
What year are you in, and at what school?
I’m a final/fourth year PhD researcher at The University of Stirling and I’m based in the Literature and Languages department. I’m actually about 6 weeks away from submitting!
What’s the working title of your thesis?
‘All tragedies are fled from state to stage’: The Ideals of Duty in Early Modern History Plays, 1561-1624.
How would you describe your thesis to someone you just met?
I’m looking at how history plays written and performed during the early modern period (aka the Renaissance) challenge idealized conceptions of duty and demonstrate the difficulties of maintaining what is espoused as ideal. If I’m met with a blank stare then I’ll say “you know Shakespeare’s history plays? Like Richard III and Julius Caesar? I study a few of those plays and a bunch of histories written by other playwrights around that time!”
What do you like best about your PhD/research/experience thus far? Least?
Honestly I just love how much time there is to research and write about something I love! I always felt like I had more to say in undergraduate essays so getting to write a full thesis about something I care about is incredible. I also love getting to talk about that work with other academics. Most of the plays I study are kind of obscure so it’s fun when I get to either chat to someone who knows what I’m talking about or when I can get someone interested in a play they’d never heard of!
Aside from the pandemic, my least favorite thing is the level of rejection and negative feedback you experience. It can really hurt being told your chapter needs substantial work, getting a journal article rejection, and being asked an unkind question at a conference. But the feedback has often made my writing better and the rejections have given me thicker skin so for that I’m grateful! Plus I’m now better at distinguishing between constructive feedback and ill-intended comments.
What do you wish you’d known going into your PhD program?
I went into my program hoping I’d get the chance to teach but when it came to it I received very minimal training and found it a bit overwhelming at the start. I had to really lean on my supervisors and fellow tutors for support. I think I just expected there to be more guidance on how to actually teach considering I had almost no experience and was being trusted with educating a class of first year students. I’m pretty sure I was more scared than my students to begin with but hopefully I hid it well!
What do you do for fun outside of academia?
I have a never ending pile of books on my non-academic TBR list and I love spending time lost in another world. I love to bake, partly because I enjoy the process of baking, but mostly because I get to eat delicious cake at the end of it! I also adore walking in the woods with my rescue greyhound, Misty, which is a good thing because it’s also a daily necessity.
If you’d like to be highlighted in the ‘5 Minutes With’ series, email Danielle.Schwertner@glasgow.ac.uk