New Beginnings

Starting a new chapter in life, setting out on a new project, and moving to a (relatively) new and unfamiliar city, are very exciting ways to begin the new academic year.  The end of August brought with it an end to my time at the University of Exeter, and the completion of my Masters’ degree.  Having received a place at the University of Liverpool, as well as a very generous and lucrative funding award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, I packed up the life I had made for myself over four years in the rolling Devon hills, and set off to embark upon my next academic adventure.  Although I spent some of my childhood years on the Wirral (the strange peninsula across the river from Liverpool, which no one has ever heard of), returning to the North West after four years away felt rather strange.  Liverpool had changed so much in my absence.  Whole areas of the city (whose existence I had previously been unaware of) had been redeveloped and transformed into artsy havens, and most importantly, numerous exciting new eateries had popped up all along my daily route to university.

The Albert Dock, which I am lucky enough to now call home!

Beginning life at a new academic institution can always be a slightly daunting experience.  However, I was welcomed into the Liverpool PhD community with open arms (and a large glass of wine).  I feel so lucky to be part of another wonderfully welcoming and vibrant department, particularly one which embraces the strengths and qualities of multiple disciplines: Archaeology, Classics & Ancient History, and Egyptology.  The combination of subjects within the department has really opened my eyes to materials, approaches, and topics far beyond the confines of my own research projects through their stimulating research seminars and work in progress meetings.  These little gatherings are not only wonderful for bringing everyone together on a weekly basis, but also for reminding me that there is, in fact, a world outside the little Lucan nest I have created for myself in my office.  Speaking of offices, a serious perk of PhD life is the guaranteed provision of a desk in a shared office.  Gone are the days of fighting over the last seat in the library!  In my new office mates, I have found lovely companions with whom to spend the next few years.  Friends to hide behind the couch with in despair as we watched the American election unfold, and to celebrate with at Christmas as we realised we had all survived the first term of PhD life.

My Department, located in the beautiful Abercromby Square.
Due to the nature of the AHRC NWCDTP (my funding body), I would be meeting not one, but two cohorts of new students, all of whom were as excited as me to be starting out on three years of research which genuinely excited us.  The NWCDTP Postgraduate Conference, held at the beautiful Royal Northern College of Music ( ) really opened my eyes to the huge range of current research interests in the broader Arts and Humanities community.  The two-day conference introduced me to topics including research into different sorts of archives, experimental archaeology and the Bronze Age, music and society, and vampire squids and Gothic finance.  We were also treated to some really useful workshops, designed to not just introduce us to new approaches and methodologies, but also how to develop as researchers, academics, and professionals.  I found the session on using Digital Humanities to draw meaning from texts, led by Emma Franklin from Lancaster University especially useful, and have recently been exploring the potential of the programme ‘AntConc’ ( ) in my own research.

AntConc fun!

As I look back on my first term as a PhD student, I’m once again incredibly grateful.  Grateful to my supervisors for their support and advice, and to my fellow students, who brighten my world when I step into my office every day.  I’m sure that my adventures, both those from last term, and those still to come, will provide me with plenty to write about on here.  So hopefully, this year, I will actually fulfil my standard resolution to ‘do more stuff with my blog’.  We shall see. 



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