A first attempt to become a proper academic

When I came back from my first international conference as a PhD student, I was feeling good. There had been a lot of interest in my Fronteiras Explorers project and the research that would ensue and I enjoyed talking about it all academically. This motivated me to apply to deliver a short series of lectures to college students through a research lectures prize promoted by the University of St Andrews, the institution which validates my degree (yes, that’s right, peasants – I am a St Andrews postgraduate student). Granted, it may have been a bit bold for someone who had been a doctoral candidate for a few months to apply to this and – spoiler alert! –  I didn’t get it.

I have recently written about boldness for the PhD Women Scotland blog, which you can read here, but I have come to realise that my own blog is largely about the rejections I’ve faced in the past few years and looking back to that first attempt at applying for an academic job might be useful just now. As I said above, I wasn’t too far into my PhD so I had to look back to my journey and propose to lecture about things that I already knew instead of the things I was yet to discover. So here’s the full pitch:

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Theme: A step beyond transculturalism: syncretic theatre/performance

Lecture 1: From multiculturalism to syncretism

An introductory lecture analysing the development of the concepts of multiculturalism, transculturalism, and syncretism applied to theatre/performance throughout the 20th century to the present day within the respective postcolonial contexts.

Aims: to gain understanding of how the different concepts of fusion in theatrical performance have evolved together with changes in the political context of the world; to identify the differences between multiculturalism, transculturalism, and syncretism.

Lecture 2: Three case studies

Looking at previous research and two practical projects undertaken by the lecturer as foundations for the current investigation into syncretic theatre, a discussion about potential strategies and threats found in this kind of work. The case studies to be analysed are:

  • The Kuarup funeral ritual of the Kamayura tribe of Brazil: religion or performance?
  • Fronteiras Explorers – a three-week artistic residency in South America
  • La Niña Barro – a devised physical theatre piece based on a collection of poems by a Spanish writer, using folk music from Zimbabwe

Aims: to discuss the points of intersection between ritual and performance in a non-European culture; to look at and challenge concrete examples of fused theatrical cultures and techniques.

Lecture 3: Afro/Scottish theatre

Presentation and discussion of a survey of Scottish theatre productions with a connection to African culture staged since 1999.

Aims: to contextualise the object of the research and its relevance in contemporary Scotland.

Statement:

The proposed series of lectures will further the mission of St Leonard’s College by contributing some new research pieces to Arts and Anthropology scholarship, fostering students’ creativity by encouraging them to draw inspiration for their artistic endeavours from a wide range of sources, and inciting discovery by bringing all this information together in a way that enables them to view their own context from a new perspective.

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If you’re still reading, thank you for staying. I don’t think this was too bad a first attempt to put a wee series of lectures together and I only got generic feedback on the rejection – the usual, “there were too many applicants, the level was very high, etc., etc.”. My research has taken a slightly different turn since and I though I would still like to do it at some point, I have never concluded my survey of Afro-Scottish theatre (which was highly motivated by working with the wonderful Mara Menzies). In any case, the ideas are here now and if anyone reading this is interested, I am more than happy to revisit and negotiate a fee with you. 😉

 

 

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