Hello @wethehumanities followers! I’m Louise Creechan and I am a PhD Candidate in English Literature at the University of Glasgow and I will be taking the Twitter reins from Monday 27th July to Sunday 2nd August.
Be prepared for a lot of Victorians and a lot more cats.
I use the same description for any academic biography that I write: ‘Her PhD thesis explores the representation of illiteracy in the Victorian novel and aims to challenge the perception of illiteracy as a homologous experience through an engagement with Disability Studies.’
Essentially, I work on the absolute border of Disability Studies and part of my research is to ask the question: at what point does an inability become a disability? And how do we classify a condition that is only temporarily or circumstantially disabling? This is one question I will be putting to our followers during my curation. Outwith my PhD research in illiteracy, I have also looked at other liminal disabilities with regard to examples in Victorian literature, such as speech impediments, to ask the same question of where we begin to classify disability.
Another aspect of my thesis research is wrestling with the wide range of experiences that could be classified as ‘illiteracy’ as its definition shifts during the Victorian era. In the 1830s, illiteracy was directly linked to whether the person in question had been classically educated - meaning, that someone who just had bad taste could be deemed illiterate - whereas, post-Education Reform (1870) the definition of illiteracy transforms into the inability to read and write. These changing definitions and the rise of mass literacy that occurs in the nineteenth century suggest that a more nuanced reading of illiteracy in the Victorian novel is called for. There are a multitude of reasons why a person might be illiterate in the Victorian novel, ranging from the lack of access to education, a rejection of education, the lack of access to the correct kind of education, to the inability to learn in the most extreme cases.
That’s a potted history of the issues that I am wrestling with in my research - pedantry, changing definitions, and a lack of nuance. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has to deal with defining terms in humanities research and I will be opening this out as a discussion for @wethehumanities followers.
I also want to ask a few personal questions (oo-er) about managing research and research ‘identities’.
I’m an Executive Member of the Doctoral Researcher Committee at the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) and a lot of our discussion is about national identity as researchers, I want to open this discussion out to a worldwide following.
Finally, I want to engage with other researchers with learning difficulties - I’m a PhD Candidate in English Literature and I am dyslexic - I want to talk about strategies for workload management and about academia’s attitude towards learning difficulties.