PhD Cohort 2020
Funding: AHRC DTP
Project Title: Unwriting Victorian Illiteracy
What was your research about?
The thesis identified that in many Victorian novels low-level literacy or illiteracy is used as a means of resistance against dominant social and educational ideologies. This finding runs counter to the popular assumption that the rise of mass literacy was an entirely humanist and progressive endeavor. The project sought to interrogate the primacy of literacy in academic practice and to explore the cultural landscape in which reading difficulty became pathologised and identified as a disability.
What made you apply for the SGSAH AHRC DTP?
Honestly? Stubbornness and the enormous chip on my shoulder due to my experience of dyslexia and co-occurring learning difficulties.
Which aspects of your PhD did you enjoy the most?
The connections and discussions that I became a part of through conferences and networking in my research field.
How has your PhD helped you to decide on a career path?
It helped me to see areas and practices within academia that I could challenge and where I could build a career around improving access for neurodivergent researchers. It gave me the critical confidence to begin to think through alternative, inclusive methodologies and ignited my passion to try to make a difference.
I am a Lecturer in the Literary Medical Humanities at Durham University, and I was named a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker in 2022. I am currently working through revisions to my monograph developed from my PhD thesis and starting to work on a new project about the construction of stupidity during the Victorian period and its legacy within neurodiversity discourses. I am also co-editing an edited collection that aims to define what a neurodivergent critical framework might look like in literary scholarship. I’m also working on my academic/comedy podcast, LOL My Praxis.
One piece of advice you would give an incoming PhD researcher?
The system is hard and the way we are encouraged to work is difficult. Reflect on your own working practices and make the PhD work for you.
Where can people find you?