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Student Profiles


Catherine Love (MA Theatre and Performance, 2013)

Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary? 

I was attracted to Queen Mary both by the research reputation of the drama department and by the teaching staff, a number of whom I was familiar with through their writing. The multi-disciplinary focus of the Masters degree also really appealed to me, as it struck me as an approach that encourages and nurtures intellectual curiosity. 

How have you found the intellectual life of the department? 

I've encountered an active and lively intellectual life within the department, fostered by events such as the fortnightly Quorum seminars, which are an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable way to bring together a postgraduate community. Within the course itself there has also been an often fruitful exchange of ideas between postgraduate students and teaching staff, opening up an atmosphere of discussion that has deepened as the course has gone on. 

What has been the highlight of your time at Queen Mary so far? 

One of the most rewarding aspects of my time at Queen Mary has been the opportunity to engage both intellectually and socially with a small, tight-knit group of students on the course, all of whom bring different interests and perspectives to the degree and who have in turn broadened and enriched my own interests. 

What are the benefits of studying in London? 

As I was already quite heavily involved in the city's theatre and performance scene prior to beginning the MA, it was important to me to pursue my studies in London. For theatre and performance students, the city offers a huge and varied selection of work to see and engage with, which is an invaluable addition to the content of the course. 

What are your future plans? 

After completing the MA I am hoping to pursue a PhD, an ambition that the academic staff at Queen Mary have been very supportive of. I also feel that through the searching critical investigation that has been encouraged throughout the Masters course I am laying important groundwork for future research.

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Harriet Curtis (PhD Student)

What is your doctoral research on?

My research focuses on the performances of Los Angeles-based artist Paul McCarthy, exploring his position within histories of performance art in the U.S. and elsewhere. The project traces McCarthy’s career from the early 1970s to the present, looking at his changing relationship to the art world, and the varying conceptions of performance through which his work has evolved. Using McCarthy as a primary case study I discuss how performance art histories are established, how they are framed and articulated by artists and scholars, and the process of documenting performance as a history in itself.

Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary?

I approached my PhD supervisor, Dominic Johnson, with my project proposal because his research interests in performance art, visual culture, and art history, were similar to my own, and I also knew that I wanted to develop my project in a performance studies environment. The Drama Department at Queen Mary offered a large and diverse research community in which interdisciplinary research projects, such as my own, could flourish. The Department also offered a number of funding options to support doctoral research; I applied for and was awarded a Queen Mary Studentship to fund my project for three years full-time. Being a doctoral student in Drama has also meant working alongside world-class researchers in the field, and among colleagues whose projects explore the significant connection between traditional academic and practice-based research.

How have you found the intellectual life of the department?

There are lots of opportunities in Drama to share your research and to engage with others', both from within the Department and elsewhere, and to get involved in the organisation of research events. The annual PhD Colloquium provides the opportunity for first and second year doctoral students to share their research in a formal, conference-style environment, and receive constructive feedback from colleagues and staff. Quorum, Drama's research seminar series in which invited academics, artists, and practitioners from performance and a range of related disciplines share and discuss their research, is an invaluable resource for engaging with a wide variety of research on theatre, performance, and practice. Furthermore, public events such as the Leverhulme Olympic Talks on Theatre and Adaptation and the AiR Project, indicate how drama research might be disseminated and applied elsewhere. The large number of post-graduate students, academic and public events in Drama makes for a diverse and supportive research community.

What has been the highlight of your time at Queen Mary so far?

In 2012 I travelled to Los Angeles to conduct primary research for my doctoral thesis, which was made possible by funding from the Queen Mary Postgraduate Research Fund. During my trip I accessed archival material at a number of art and research institutions, including the Getty Research Institute and Museum of Contemporary Art. My visit also coincided with the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, a contemporary reflection on the history of performance art in Los Angeles. Research carried out during this trip contributed to the ongoing development of my project, and provided evidence and support for several of its chapters. It was also an invaluable opportunity to engage with artists and academics whose work is integral to the histories of performance on which my project focuses.

What are the benefits of studying in London?

Studying in London means that you not only have access to resources and research expertise at Queen Mary, but also at a number of other institutions and public organisations. During the course of my PhD I have used library and archive resources at a number of institutions including: the British Library; the Tate archive; Senate House Library; the Courtauld Institute of Art; Goldsmiths, University of London; and the Live Art Development Agency. In London there is also a broad range of theatre, live art, and performance events to attend, as well as public talks, art exhibitions, and workshops. As a student of Drama I've found it particularly enriching to be exposed to performance in all its forms, and studying in London has certainly facilitated this. There are also plenty of opportunities in London to develop professional skills and experience alongside PhD research. Since 2011 I have been working with the Live Art Development Agency in a number of capacities, including developing the Agency's archive, as production assistant for public programmes, and assisting in the development of Agency publications.

What are your future plans, and how has studying at Queen Mary prepared you for them?

After finishing my PhD I'll be looking to apply for post-doctoral positions, entailing both research and teaching elements. Having the opportunity to teach in the Department has been one of the highlights of my time at Queen Mary; developing teaching skills and broadening my knowledge of the field has been an important aspect of my decision to continue working in Higher Education. The research training offered by the Drama Department has also prepared me for this process by hosting sessions on applying for post-doctoral positions, CV workshops and applying for academic jobs. Throughout my PhD I've also had experience of writing funding applications and developing my professional skills by helping to organise academic and public events through the department.

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Wendy Hubbard (PhD Student)

What is your doctoral research on?

I’m interested in theatre as a form that troubles notions of individual authorship and artistry because it always involves many makers.  My PhD thesis (working title ‘In Company: Togetherness on the Postdramatic Stage’) tests a series of theoretical approaches to explore how we might better articulate what is at stake and what is at play when we watch performers work together in contemporary theatre.

Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary?

I had been making theatre for some years when I decided to look for an MA that would enable me to better understand the context for my work, and to expand and deepen my thinking generally. The drama department at Queen Mary was recommended to me as a place where some really exciting work was happening. I was invited to sit in on a seminar to see whether the course was what I was looking for, and found the questions under discussion stimulating and the level of debate brilliantly invigorating.

How have you found the intellectual life of the department?

Going into my doctoral research I knew how much Queen Mary had to offer me both in terms of infrastructure, a supportive, collegiate research community, intellectual resources and incisive dialogue.  In addition to permanent drama faculty and an amazing network of associate artists contributing to events in the department, the university also regularly hosts lectures and seminars by other world-class scholars - David Harvey, Julia Kristeva, Miranda Joseph, Peggy Phelan and many others over the years I have been here.

What are your on-going plans, and how has studying at Queen Mary prepared you for them?

I’m working on my PhD part time and also making and directing theatre, and teaching undergraduates. This is an ideal combination for me and I hope to sustain it into the future. Academic work is incredibly enriching in and of itself. I also value hugely the ways in which being a researcher and TA in the Drama department at Queen Mary feeds and focuses my practical work, provoking my curiosity, requiring intellectual discipline, giving me great tools to think and make with.

 

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