Postgraduate Forum – Michaelmas Roundup

A report by Catherine Ellis, PG Forum Co-ordinator 2015-2016:
Following the successes of last year, every week this term MLAC postgraduate students have met for the inimitable PG forum. Most of us will have seen the weekly emails, or the block-booking of ER153 on the weekly calendar, but what has actually happened in the forum this term? To refresh your memory, remind you of what you missed, and to get you excited you for next term, here’s a quick look back at what Michaelmas had to offer….
The term kicked off with two great welcome events, one for all postgraduate students in MLAC, and one specifically for research PGs, where we got to know one another and the department over drinks and nibbles, and planned what we wanted to see happen in the forum for the rest of term. With the help of a splash of sparkling wine and a great deal of enthusiasm, we drew up a provisional plan that would see us through the rest of Michaelmas.
We began on 22nd October with a reading group session on the phenomenology of reading, and how we experience and approach the texts that we use in our work.
The week after that, Barbora Bartosova, one of our new research MA students, organised a group to attend Dr Will Viney’s (Geography) paper at the MLAC Ecology and the Arts seminar.
On 5th November, visiting IAS fellow and Leonardo da Vinci expert Professor Carlo Vecce came to the forum to lead a special seminar on working with Leonardo’s manuscripts – many thanks to Claudia Wardle and Dr Annalisa Cipollone for helping to make this happen.
The following week, in conjunction with the Durham Early Modern History Group, we attended a visiting speaker’s paper on the aristocratic hero in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France.
On 19th November, we held another reading group session, this time exploring the relationship between literature and history, with Niall Oddy providing some extracts and leading the discussion.
Thursday 26th proved particularly exciting, when a small group of MLAC research students presented their current research in a flash presentation session, explaining our subjects and our methodology. A potent mix of Spanish art, European identity, and early modern sex work sparked some quite lively discussion!
December began with a closer look at our academic and professional development, with Dr Sam Bootle (French) leading an incredibly valuable session on handling conference and interview questions, all in the tinsel-clad setting of A56.
To wind down ready for Christmas (or, perhaps, to provide a bit a respite from the end-of-term rush) the forum of 12th December was replaced by a group postgrad visit to the Durham Language Café, to give us a chance to flex our minds and linguistic muscles with conversations and a quiz.
The term ended with a Christmas reception, where we weary postgrads had the chance to relax with a glass of wine and catch up with peers and staff after a very busy term.
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped to make this term’s forum so enjoyable. Particular thanks must go to Dr Santiago Fouz-Hernández for his unending moral and practical support, without whom none of this would have been possible.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Epiphany termcard!
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