Nia Clark

Nia Clark 2021

PhD Cohort 2021

HEI: University of Glasgow

Funding: AHRC DTP

Project Title: ‘[N]ew connections strung out over time’: a study of Liz Lochhead’s poetry and drama from 1972–2016 

Supervisors: Dr Rhona Brown and Dr Pauline Mackay, School of Critical Studies

What was your research about?

My thesis considered Liz Lochhead’s arrival as a poet in 1970s Scotland and charted her progression to the role of Scots Makar in 2011. I undertook a close analysis of a range of Lochhead’s publications, which were contextualised with reference to cultural politics, interviews, and archival research of unpublished material held in the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections. I took a chronological approach, informed by the publication or performance dates of Lochhead’s work. Meanwhile, by examining Lochhead’s work holistically, including her beginnings at Glasgow School of Art, I was able to present her development from painter to poet, to poet and playwright, and the development of voices in tandem with this.  

What made you apply for the SGSAH AHRC DTP?

I was undertaking an MPhil in the Scottish Literature department, where I was encouraged to consider PhD research. While I was carrying out my MPhil research, which focused on the theme of enduring selves in contemporary Scottish fiction, I soon found that there were many other areas that I hoped to delve into deeper. I felt that a PhD project would afford me the time and space to immerse myself in a topic of my choice. The Scottish Literature department supported me throughout the application process.  

Which aspects of your PhD did you enjoy the most?

For me, the best thing about the PhD was the opportunity to spend a sustained period researching, thinking, and writing about a subject that I love, but there were many other benefits and excellent opportunities to take advantage of.   

I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with fellow PhD students. For example, I applied to the SGSAH Cohort Development Fund with students from the University of Glasgow, Glasgow School of Art, and the University of Strathclyde. We were awarded funding to plan and deliver the Women Creating Scotland Conference, which was held at Glasgow Women’s Library in 2018. I learned a lot during the process and the event was a great success!  

The chance to teach on the Level 1 Scottish Literature undergraduate course at the University of Glasgow was invaluable. It was a joy to work with students and to facilitate rich discussions of a range of texts. My teaching experience at Glasgow afforded me the opportunity to work as a tutor during the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School on the Scottish Literature module of their Text & Context course. It was great to meet other students and practitioners and to take part in such an exciting and varied programme.  

How has your PhD helped you to decide on a career path?

I’m still exploring options and I’m open to a number of career possibilities, but the teaching experience I gained during the PhD has underlined my desire to work with adult learners and young people. I’m currently working with students on a one-to-one basis at the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, which I love.   

And now?

I’m working part-time at the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde in Disability and Wellbeing Services as a Student Support Worker/Mentor.  

In addition to my role as Student Support Worker/Mentor, I’ve been transcribing oral history interviews for an AHRC-funded research project titled Live Art in Scotland, led by Dr Steve Greer at the University of Glasgow.  

 I’m also undertaking new research as well as reworking aspects of my thesis for publication. In June 2022, I’ll be speaking at the 3rd World Congress of Scottish Literatures in Prague. It’ll be my first in-person conference since the start of the pandemic and I’m excited to meet other researchers and to find out more about everyone’s work.  

One piece of advice you would give an incoming PhD researcher?

Start writing early and keep redrafting. However incomplete they may seem, get your thoughts down on paper. This really helped me to fine-tune my project and my argument. If you’re finding it difficult to get started, try joining a writing group. This is a great way to get involved with the PhD community and I made so many lovely friends by attending a weekly Shut Up and Write group at the University of Glasgow.   

Where can people find you?

SGSAH; SGSAH ResearchTwitter: @nia_alexandra_c