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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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New Essay

Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Postgraduate Diary: A PhD Week

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Every Friday afternoon, whilst up and down the country workers recieve early parole from their stuffy offices to go to bars and pubs, I sit in our kitchen and grumble at Helen. Rather than looking forward to the weekend as a time of relaxation, I moan about how little I appear to have done over the preceding five days. As a result of my perception, the concept of time-off over the coming 48 hours does not seem so appealingly different from time-at-table, with books in front of me.

When you think about the numbers, doing a PhD in an arts subject should really be little effort. I have to write about 80,000 words, in three years, which works out at around 500 words a week, or 100 a day. No wonder, then, that I feel like I do little on a week by week basis. Of course, behind every word I write are several more books and papers read, not to mention emails written, lectures and seminars attended, discussion groups done and games of Yetisports played. In spite of the fact that in theory I need to write so little, I seem to manage to fill my weekdays from 9 to 5 just as any other office worker does. Indeed, unlike many office workers, my days are not spent in distracting coffee room banter or chatting about marketing strategies, but head down, pen up, solitarily in front of a book and a desk. So, Helen suggests, I should keep a diary of what I have actually done during a typical week of PhD research. Over the next five days, that's what you'll get, then, on this blog...

Update: Once again, Patrick Tomlin of the Guardian beats me to it: he writes on Monday about a typical day in the life of a politics PhD research student.

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