…thoughts on and about my PhD journey and beyond…

The word ‘subjunctive’ was added to the glossary today. This word was used to convey the possibilities of different endings or having a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ feel to it, in that wonderful 2006 film “The History boys“.

There is also a great passage in this film where “Hector” the English Lit teacher is speaking to a student (Posner) about ideas and past authors and that magical moment when a thought of one’s own manifests itself in the form of someone else’s writing.  Hector describes this as:

…the best moments in reading are when you come across something—a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things—that you’d thought special and particular to you.  And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, maybe even someone long dead.  It’s as if a hand has come out [of the book] and taken yours.

It illustrates that whilst our own new found knowledge feels ‘new’ to us that the idea has probably been pondered upon before us and others will ‘find’ it after us. I think this is what “working with the literatures” (Kamler & Thomson 2006) is all about and I have had several of these magical moments myself, especially around the work of Mary Parker Follett from the 1920s. Kamler and Thomson move the notion of ‘the literature review’ from a passive, perhaps ‘preceding the research-not so much a part of it’ activity to one that is embedded and actively engaged with throughout the whole PhD study.


Kamler, B. & Thomson, P. 2006. Helping doctoral students write: pedagogies for supervision. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, Routledge


Comments on: "Working with literatures" (2)

  1. Thanks Ailsa,
    If Germaine Greer can write the ‘female eunich’ from her previous vignettes, then blogging our way to a PhD should be no problem 🙂

    Barbara Kamler’s approach of viewing ‘writing as research and research as writing’ and also that ‘text work is identity work’ are very encouraging too.

    I’ve sent you a tweet about my available days both sides of the tasman…


  2. Hi Heather, welcome to blogging your way to a PhD!
    I recall being told publishing is like having a very slow conversation spanning months if not years. Its partly why i prefer blogging 🙂
    Plus writing makes me careful with my thinking, seems the public experience forces a bit more coherence…and depth, to the thinking.
    I am also enjoying a more conversational style in my writing, one i prefer as a reader, but was previously shy of when authoring. I look forward to seeing how the blog develops 🙂 Maybe we can catch up on both sides of the Tasman also? I am over on the 16th.


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