Posts Tagged ‘Thesis’

Yesterday, I walked across the stage as Dr Donna Maree Hanson. I had the gown, the hood, and the Tudor bonnet. I did not look as debonair as I was expecting but it didn’t matter because I was excited and happy. It’s been a long time coming. The pandemic played havoc, not just with me, but with staffing at the university which meant the last part took too long and it was very frustrating.

Rituals and ceremony are fascinating things. The permeate our lives-marriage ceremonies, funerals, graduations. For me, it was a closure thing. I didn’t have to do it, but I so wanted to. I wanted a moment to remember, to celebrate and share with my family. Not all my family unfortunately.

I found the whole thing a boost to my morale. I dressed up. I put on make up. I felt good. Yay me.

At moments like this I am expected to thank people who helped me. I have an extensive thank you in my thesis, but that’s not as easily seen or read. My supervisor was Associate Profession Tony Eaton, AKA Anthony Eaton, award winning author of SF and F and he propped me up when I was down, guided me when he could, challenged me and made me prove my points. He also was a great mentor for my novel component. It was a challenge that Tony wasn’t an expert on romance fiction, but he did his best as he is the genre guy and he asked the amazing, indomitable Dr Jodi McAlister to be on my supervisory panel. Jodi was a godsend from the romance academia perspective. Thank you Jodi. My second supervisor was Dr Jordan Williams and she was very good value when she had to mind me when Tony was away. She gave me some great feedback on my thesis and chatted to me and helped me refine my arguments.

However, it was Tony who zoomed with me every week and fortnight during the peak of early pandemic lockdowns and fear and who kept me going, listened to my ideas, encouraged me, He worked hard with me to drag, pull, push over the line. During that time I had no will to write anything, no creativity, I was blown up by a cannon ball of pandemic fear and family chaos. What really touched me though was Tony was feeling similarly. He was finding it hard. He had family, a job, PhD candidates and lectures and marking and he didn’t give up on himself or me. So thank you Tony for fighting the hard fight.

My partner, Matthew Farrer, was always quietly supporting me with love and advice and money too. My children who supported me and were proud of me, even if at times they didn’t get what I was doing. The romance readers and writers who I’ve met, the ones who participated in my surveys, thank you all.

People ask questions about being a Phd candidate. What’s it like? Why? What do you do? It’s a long process, years. For me even longer that the normal because I took a year off, I went part time and so on. I can’t deny there was a time about a year and a half in that I wanted to give up. There were so many other distracting things to do-like write books, devote myself to publishing and promotion. But I had completed a survey of romance writers and readers and I owed it to them to do the work, the analysis and so I did.

Most of the time you are working on your own when you do a phd. I can only speak here about my creative writing Phd experience. Other disciplines are different I think, particularly if you are on a science research team. At first I had to learn to read academic articles. I think those first days I struggled to read one in a day. First you have to find them, then read them, then work out if they are relevant (the abstracts help). Then in my case my brain got accustomed and I could read two, three or four in a day. You need to work out a way to keep track of your articles because if you want to quote from them or paraphrase from them, you need to be able to lay your hand on the reference, check the wording (I failed a lot at this) or even wave them about and say ‘But they say so!’ Meanwhile, all this stuff just accumulated in my head. Then, there was the creative piece which is linked, inspired by or part of your research topic. For a long time my was a general area Feminism in popular romance fiction. By the end, it was Romance as a bridge to understanding changing gender roles in society. One thing I really enjoyed when I could be on campus was participating in campus life. I tutored in creative writing among other things. I loved being part of the student’s journey, encouraging them, sharing with them the pros and cons of being a writer. The pandemic killed that for me though as I was a sessional and it was a rubber band snap off into the no more tutoring scrap heap, like a lot of us.

Any enough blabbing and more photos.

Matthew Farrer, my partner and me
The robes from behind.

My thesis is currently available for viewing at the Uni of Canberra research repository. Here.

I’m thinking of publishing the thesis and the novel component so it may not be available forever. I will start emailing survey participants who requested a copy with the link to my thesis over the next couple of weeks.

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