Critiquing and being critically reviewed

Today has been a big day and as I worked my way through my list I realised a lot has happened that I haven’t blogged and I should. If only to make sure I don’t forget how amazing people are.

So since my last post I’ve had a few meetings.

The first was a catch up with Doug the coach. Really great ideas and conversation about how to build narrative for the thesis and what the actual message is I’ve got to convey. Also interesting conversations in relation to literature reviews as this is constantly my bug bear. Interestingly he asked if I’d mapped out my Introductory Seminar in a mind map. Unlike me I hadn’t. I’d just written it. Based on this excellent advice I have been able to map not just the seminar but also how I plan to do the thesis. Doug critically reviewing my work made me work harder to articulate what I’m doing and where I’m going. This has turned into an amazing leap forward in my own understanding of my thesis.

Then it was a supervisor meeting – actually it was a master class on the ‘posts’ – modernism and structuralism. This was a fantastic meeting. It clarified the reading I had done in this space and gave me a stronger grounding in how post-structuralism is applicable for me. Today I’ve done some more reading and I’m not sure I’m post-structuralism just because I’m exploring how meaning is constructed and then constrains. I’m not sure I’m fully in this space so more thinking and reading to be done. We also talked about how research changes you. This was a valuable insight as the day I was having needed a tether. By that I mean I often feel like I’m at sea in this thesis and people around me are drifting away. The conversation highlighted it’s me that drifts, not them, so I can choose to not drift and actually re-engage.

I shared this view with Sarah – about research changing you – and she agreed. We then discussed how it is a privilege to undertake a PhD and how humbling it is to be in the world of research. Sarah is an amazing academic. She researches across disciplines in really imaginative ways and chatting to her was just wonderful.

I also met with my second supervisor to go through my Introductory Seminar plan. After some frank and fearless discussions we got to a path of clarity. It was amazing. We were talking, exchanging ideas and then all of a sudden my brain switched gears and today I’ve been able to write about the literature in a critical way. I’ve been thinking about it differently and my thesis too and this in turn has led me to the most positive I’ve been about my literature review ever.

I’ve also been to two sessions on the three minute thesis. While these have been interesting I’m not sure there’s been sufficient value for me personally. It comes from having a major in drama I suppose. I’m also concerned about having to put my research into a box that is familiar for everyone just to be heard. But then if you want to be heard, you have to sell the message a way people understand. This is making me think hard. I have decided to do the three minute thesis every year I study. It’s an excellent process of critically reviewing where I am and what I’m thinking about my thesis.

Reading these paragraphs you can see why I have the title for this post I do. I’ve finally moved my head into the space of critiquing others and am learning so much from people critically reviewing me. These meetings all led to an amazing research day today. I’ve got what I think is close to my final content for my Seminar and I’ve also been able to consider weaknesses in the literature I’ve found. Weaknesses my research can help address. Today has been a landmark day. My brain is starting to get it. A long road to go, I know, but it’s comforting to know I’m now strong enough to walk it.




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