"I chose Goldsmiths and Centre for Cultural Studies because of its excellent reputation, interdisciplinary approach, and also knowing that I would be working with the top scholars in the field."
PhD Project title: Intimations of Photography
Undergraduate degree: BA Honours French, University College London
Postgraduate degree: Maîtrise en lettres modernes, University of Paris IV - Sorbonne
Previous job: Photographer (fashion editorial/album covers); Lecturer, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
Current Job: Lecturer in Photography, Department of History and Philosophy of Art, School of Arts, University of Kent
Nationality: Japanese/ Taiwanese
I was working as professional photographer in Taiwan and although I had a successful career, there was a part of me which really missed academia. I was invited to teach as visiting artist at City University of Hong Kong. I had always wanted to do a PhD. However, like most people, it was a matter of financial costs and time, which had made it seem difficult and unrealistic after having finished my masters degree at the Sorbonne. I chose Goldsmiths and CCS because of its excellent reputation, interdisciplinary approach, and also knowing that I would be working with the top scholars in the field. My project could not have happened elsewhere.
The whole atmosphere of CCS was stimulating and exciting. My classmates came from different disciplines. Within the peer group, there was a wide range of projects; we shared ideas and problems- you get to know one another very closely. There was a real sense of camaraderie. I loved the fact that after the seminars, lectures and talks, the discussion often continued and eventually ended in the pub as the night went on!
There is the opportunity for students to organise conferences and workshops and to meet leading thinkers in their field - you can always discuss ideas with other staff who are very welcoming. There is an inspiring breadth of knowledge from staff members. Every year, students are asked to submit their written work to a summer panel. I found the experience amazing - although it was also terrifying! The annual summer panel was something to look forward to and it provided a wonderful opportunity for students at the end of the year to have three experts giving feedback; staff read your work so thoroughly and give such invaluable advice. It helps you to formulate your thoughts. This is very unique to CCS. I really appreciate the dedication of staff members who support and encourage students to pursue their individual projects.
You have to be very passionate about your research project even though it may be quite nebulous in the beginning. CCS enabled me to realise my project. I guess doing a PhD allows you to learn about yourself- and how far you can push yourself intellectually. Once you have done a PhD, anything is possible! You learn how to analyse various phenomena and discourse; you understand how your mind works. The writing process is fascinating; it is intensely cerebral as well as physical. The experience opens up new possibilities regarding how you understand your being in the world. I really miss those years, even though there are always worries (financial pressure, being an overseas student, producing work) but to have that support and a critical voice is a great luxury.
Programme and year of study:
MPhil/PhD Cultural Studies
Interviewed by Lee Mackinnon