Introducing: Laura Gallon

Today we are introducing Laura Gallon, another Doctoral Researcher who will  be taking over our Instagram for today, 7th January, to show you a day in her life!

Remember to follow @sussexreshive and follow #TuesdayTakeover to see what Laura is getting up to!

 

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  1. What is your PhD about?

I am working on contemporary short fiction by North American migrant women writers. Migrant literature has been growing in importance since the 1980s and is quite a big thing at the moment, what with writers like Salman Rushdie, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jhumpa Lahiri to name just a few. It has always existed, and not just in Western countries, but the label is quite recent. Most academic studies on the topic tend to think of the novel as the default genre, despite the amount of poetry, short stories, essays and plays that have been produced in recent years. Obviously, this is not at all representative of the whole literary scene, and reveals just how much Western society and academia envision the novel as the genre par excellence. My thesis aims to redress the balance by focusing solely on short stories and short story collections, to offer an alternative migrant canon and reveal the creative and subversive potential of short fiction, especially for women of colour. Alongside discussing questions to do with the interactions of form, genre, gender and race in my thesis, I am building a database of short story collections by migrant women published from the 1980s onwards. As many are already out of print, I hope my thesis can give them a higher profile than they have received until now.

  1. As a PhD researcher, what do you want or need from the Research Hive?

Given that loneliness is one of the biggest issues among PhD researchers, the Hive is incredibly important in creating a sense of community and making new friends, especially for EU and international students like me. I am also very fond of the Hive space – it feels like a place of trust where people can leave their laptops for half a day, knowing they will find them untouched, exactly where they left them. I suppose that makes sense, as we all undoubtedly have the same nightmare of seeing our work disappear! But it’s a practical illustration of our shared understanding and appreciation of the Hive as a safe space, where we all quietly support each other.

  1. What crucial thing have you learned during your PhD that may help other students?

For one thing, there are a lot of ups and downs. Doing a PhD is like being in a very complicated love-hate relationship. One day your thesis is your best friend, the next you hate it. Right now my thesis and I aren’t on great terms, but that’s probably because I’m just back from a lovely holiday break and I’m a bit scared of reaching the final stages…  I think the most important thing I have learned is to make sure you don’t let your PhD take over your life: it’s important to set boundaries, nurture friendships outside working hours, and do things you enjoy that are unrelated to your research. Another thing I have found quite useful is applying to conferences and writing pieces for non-academic magazines/blogs – as well as developing your communication skills and networking opportunities, these are small things that help you feel more confident about your research and give you that sense of accomplishment you rarely get with work on your thesis!

  1. Where can we find you when you’re not working on your PhD?

On my sofa watching films and shows on Netflix or reading, at the cinema (you’re probably not supposed to advertise here, but the Picturehouse has a great membership card for students and you can get so much out of it!), walking, and spending time with friends.  Also tidying and cleaning (it really helps me to feel efficient and in control, especially when my thesis isn’t cooperating), and working on a couple of side projects – I have set up a book club called The Hidden Shelf with a friend which sees itself as part of the Decolonize movement, and I’m also researching instapoetry’s “identity poetics”.

 

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