It has been some time since I have updated my blog. Just the minor distraction of finishing my MA in Digital Arts and Humanities! I handed it in yesterday, accompanied by the wonderful Jacob Egan-Morley.
This is not the end of the journey however. I am working on the development of a Cork LGBT Digital Archive. This is a long-term project which will take years to develop and maintain. Rather than working in isolation I have decided to continue on and do a PhD in Digital Arts and Humanities. This provides me with the on-going support of a community of scholars and lecturers interested in developing digital humanities projects.
For my MA I developed a website corklgbthistory.com to showcase some of the data which will form the basis of the digital database I am developing. I would hope that this website would stimulate interest in the project and encourage others to comment or contribute. This is very much a work in progress. Now that the MA Thesis is submitted I can get back to the work of updating and developing this website.
As I emerged from the post-MA haze, I read an interesting post on The Thesis Whisperer on the joys and challenges of being a PhD-Mum. I guess that’s what I am now! The term PhD-Mum foregrounds the fact that as parents we juggle and attempt to balance often conflicting demands on our time and attention. It is a far cry from the traditional image of the PhD student with nothing to do apart from spending years engaged in deep-thinking about their subject of choice. As parent-students we try to slot moments of study and reflection into very busy schedules, where we strive to produce stimulating innovative work while also managing to shop, cook, clean, wash clothes, do the homework and be there for our children. In my case this is even more challenging than the situation described by Rebecca Turvill as, on a day-to-day basis, I am a single parent.
While this is the situation for so many student-parents, our universities often assume that PhD students have no other interests or responsibilities and can, at the drop of the hat (or the child in this case), head off to a day-long or weekend-long seminar / think-in / conference. I wish!
I agree with Rebecca Turville that being a PhD-Mum does focus your concentration – if you only have a couple of hours to work before the school run you make sure you use it well. Being a student will also give me some degree of flexibility to be able to be there for my son. My four year PhD programme coincides with the last four years of primary school for him, so we can be students together, even if his homework always has to be done before mine! I would hope that I am instilling in him a sense of the importance and value of education. Although the amount of time I have to spend doing college work on my computer in the evenings does thwart somewhat my attempts to reduce the amount of time he spends playing MineCraft on his iPad!