Joanne McNeill attends Goldsmiths Graduate Festival

HDR candidate Joanne McNeill blogs about her recent trip to the 2014 Goldsmiths Graduate Festival.

By Joanne McNeill

28 May 2014

People sitting on the grass at Goldsmiths

For the past two years ICS has sponsored two HDR students to attend the Goldsmiths Graduate Festival. This year, along with Jen Li, I was fortunate to be chosen and on 7 May headed off to London. Based in the up and coming area of New Cross Gate in South East London, the Goldsmiths' campus is a great blend of old and new buildings and is home to an amazingly diverse (even for London!) student population. I was based out of the student accommodation in Loring Hall for seven nights, right next to the campus and across the road from the Overground service.

Goldsmiths has a strong reputation for innovative, creative and interdisciplinary approaches to research and teaching. This was clearly evident in the eclectic mix of papers, with students from across the university contributing to the program. I arrived on the weekend, so missed the first two days, but was in time to see a couple of sessions before Jen and I gave our papers on the Monday afternoon. We were scheduled in a slot called 'Spaces for Learning and Development', and the other two presentations were on perceptions of blindness, using a documentary approach (Department of Media & Communications), and issues around employment for men with Austism Spectrum Disorder (Department of Psychology). Despite technical difficulties during my presentation all went well and there was some interesting discussion about my paper.

The festival was quite informal, with different people attending across the week and around 20 or so people per session. There was nothing similar to my research focus (social innovation) on the program, and so it was a great opportunity to learn about research into all kinds of topics I wouldn't usually hear about. Over the course of the rest of the week a few memorable papers included: Rough music – the embodiment of resistance or a folk theatre of cruelty?; Literary language and architectural design – A study of space in Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy; Stitched up – How queens of crime used tweed to express a new masculinity between the wars; and The politics of transfemmebodiment. A day of sessions focused around creative writing processes and experiences was interesting and entertaining, with many of the issues discussed applicable to the writing process generally. The PhD careers panel was an unexpected gem, with the panel providing realistic and insightful perspectives on post-PhD journeys. And true to Goldsmiths' style, various artistic works were exhibited throughout.

I also attended an excellent workshop on Social Labs while I was in the UK, at Warwick University in Coventry. Seven social labs from around the world were involved, including La 27e Region from Paris - one of the case examples I interviewed as part of my field work in 2013.

All in all a terrific experience, with the low key character being a welcome antidote at this stage of my PhD – thanks again ICS!

Goldsmiths sign on building

Students walking between buildings at Goldsmiths

Photos courtesy of Goldsmiths, University of London (opens in a new window).