How many of you are considering starting a reading group? It can be a bit daunting and stressful- but you are not on your own!
Today we are posting a quick interview with a 1st year PhD researcher, Baljit Bains, who just set up a reading group. We will also ask her to share her thoughts once the group is already running, to see how her experiences differ (or not!) from her initial expectations.
The first reading group for cultural studies will be next Wednesday 17th October 2018 – 15:30-17:00 in Silverstone SB 327. The group will start with Postcolonial Contraventions – chapter 7: Theorising race, racism and culture: David Lloyd’s work. The book is available (as a pdf) from the university library. Come and bring your friends! It is an important and timely topic!
- What is your motivation behind setting up a reading group in the very first term of your PhD?
My motivation behind setting up the reading group was initially to get people together to form a network. Reading is a great tool to bring people together and meet people you otherwise wouldn’t because of how diverse everyone’s research is. Also it’s a great way to connect with people who are further along their research journey. Organizing the group itself motivated me to speak to 2nd year students for example who had experience in organizing reading groups and attending them, so it’s been motivating for me to ensure that there is a reading group for cultural studies for that purpose.
- How, do you think, the topics and interests will develop throughout this term?
I think inevitably they will develop. Based on some of the suggested readings that were put forward, people have chosen readings that are seemingly specific to their research, but I think that this will become much more diverse throughout the term because ideas will also develop, links and connections between different readings may become apparent and useful and most importantly, reading groups encourage dialogue, and this provides scope for different ways of thinking about our research (hopefully!)
- Any expectations regarding student attendance?
I’ve actually been encouraged not to hold any expectations regarding attendance! Reading groups aren’t for everybody and this is the first time I’m organizing one, so only time will tell!
- How, do you think, your personal research will benefit from the group?
I think my personal research will benefit from the group because through conversation with other researchers and academics, I’ve already started thinking about readings which I’d never thought might be relevant to my research, and I guess this is the whole point of the reading group. You never know how useful reading materials are going to be to you or others until you actually read and have discussions on them.
- Is there anything you worry about prior starting the group?
I’m not particularly worried about anything. I think organizing can be a bit stressful because you want to make sure that it’s accessible, but people are talking and connecting and through collaboration, it’s a little easier to not feel so worried about it.
Thank you for the interview! We keep our fingers crossed for your group, Baljit! ❤