Hello everyone. I know I don’t really update this corner of the internet much anymore. I’m currently in the third year of this PhD, so TWO MORE YEARS and YOU SHOULD BE WRITING and GET OFF TWITTER and YOU STILL AREN’T WRITING are the slogans marching around inside my head for the last month or so. I’m teaching, too — since earlier this year I’ve been given the opportunity to teach undergraduates solo, which is exciting and challenging. I get to work with some brilliant students. All good.
I’m at the stage of my thesis where I’m starting to believe that I’ve found my focus, so to say. My research has now become a study of Shakespeare performance in Ireland in relation to how it operates in and out of current Irish debates on gender and sexuality, as well as issues of national identity. This makes sense to me, this excites me, and this allows me to take ownership of this work. It’s funny, because in some ways, that focus has been there since the beginning: being adamant about taking an intersectional feminist approach to my work regardless, becoming invested in the #WakingTheFeminists and #repealthe8th campaigns, and unconsciously taking an interest in women and queer people’s approaches to Irish Shakespeare. I had been thinking about the project so broadly beforehand, and spent ages struggling with how to siphon everything down. So, when I walked into a supervision in August saying ‘I get to write about #WakingTheFeminists in my thesis now!!!’ (after having seen the wonderful and distinctly Irish Globe The Taming of the Shrew), that was a clear indicator to my supervisor as to where the thesis ought to go. And, eventually, to me, too. [I’ll actually be talking about this production in relation to Irish feminism at this symposium in Maynooth at the end of the month, fyi.]
And what’s the most wonderful thing about this development is that my feminism, my queerness, and my research do not need to be separate from each other. They co-exist and they inform each other. And despite my own fears and hesitations, I know that can be possible. Just yesterday, I attended the second day of the 1916: Home: 2016 conference (co-organised by brilliant colleagues of mine at NUIG), in which a panellist stated that ‘I don’t see why I can’t be both an activist and a historian.’ And we, as younger scholars, need affirmations like that, as we try to carve out our own paths. At the same time, Academic Manel Watch is gathering steam on Twitter, as is the hashtag #WakingTheAcademics. Conversations are happening.
So there’s that. Our objectives now are to keep those conversations and actions going. In the meantime, myself and three brilliant colleagues/friends/sisters-in-arms are running our own podcast called Feminist Theatre Squadron: you can listen to us talk about theatre, feminism, and being cranky here. And sure, that sounds like a cynical shill. But given our own current political situation (Brexit and its aftermath, the rise of the alt-right, so much inaction close to home, #WakingTheFeminists offering some semblance of hope and change), I think it’s important that we talk, and keep talking, and refuse to stop. I’m sure it won’t be our only contribution to this conversation, but it’s a start nonetheless.