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Nick - networking
Name: Nick
PhD discipline: English Literature
Area(s) of work: civil service; tax consultant; accountancy; film and fiction writing, university teaching
Year of graduation: 1995
Date of Interview: 29/05/2008

Now Playing: Nick - networking
Nick recounts the transition between undergraduate and postgraduate work as a mature student, and how his propensity for networking was evident very early on. He intimates that this built his confidence which in turn helped him to get his first paper published.

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So, within your PhD you're doing tutoring, can you look back and see the ways in which you were networking and establishing contacts with people or getting involved in organising seminars or anything like that? 

Yeah, right from the – its very precocious but right from my first year as an undergraduate, my first year as an undergraduate I went to everything because I didn't know how to separate what was the weak from the – I didn't know how to get rid of the rubbish so I went to every lecture, I went to every talk, and then they had this thing called the postgraduate seminar and it would be academics and there was lots going on in … because there were people like … and …, and there was a real kind of post-structuralist movement in everything going on there and then there would be traditionalist … and lots of really interesting people and they used to attend postgraduate seminars and give papers. All the postgraduate students went and I went as a first year undergraduate student and didn't feel out of place because everybody was about my age. I hadn't a clue what they were talking about to be perfectly honest with you, I have to – they would go straight over my head. Its all …, you know, they're talking about things, but then by the second year I had a clue and by the third year I knew exactly what they were talking about. And so even when I was in my third year as an undergraduate I think … said to me one day 'so what is your PhD on?' And I said 'I'm having a crisis, I haven't done a PhD', and he said 'but I thought you were one of the PhD students' and he said 'well you always ask intelligent questions', and I said 'no, no I ask questions that I need the answers to, I don't know the answers so I ask straight questions, I say I didn't get that, so I just ask straight questions'. So that kind of networking went on kind of just mostly hanging out with postgrads and that kind of thing as an undergraduate so that when I became a PhD student it wasn't anything new. And I got a conference paper, as a first year PhD student they give these amazingly complicated papers and my very first paper at my very first conference got published and so I was really cocky and I just – but I thought that's what happened, I just...

How did you get it published?

Cos I went to this conference and, you know University of … they just started their new journal and the papers in here somewhere, they just started this new journal and I gave this paper about the definition of lesbian sexuality in a Scottish court trial that happened in the 18th century and they just, at … that's the sort of thing that would go on normally but it was just a kind of stunned silence and they said 'how do you end up doing this kind of stuff' and they said it was great. And because I give a literary, because I was a literary student I gave a – I deconstructed a court trial, the transcript of a court trial and I deconstructed the trial to show how all the questions were leading questions and how the people being interviewed had no choice but to give positive answers and stuff, so instead of deconstructing the text like On Chesil Beach or something like that, I just deconstructed a complete court trial which I was interested in for my research. And they liked it and they said 'could we have the papers?' so I just gave them it, unedited and just the reading out version of it, and they published it.

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