Believe in your #PhDshelfie

Have you ever heard someone say “the best #selfie is the one that isn’t”? Well, in the case of a #PhDshelfie, the best one is the one you share with other PhD students. Here’s mine, now let’s see yours…


The PhD Life blog recently had a post about the importance of building relationships during your PhD. We believe so much in this idea that one of our categories is “Building Relationships” (perhaps we could’ve been more creative, but we like to make sure you get what you’re after!). As the Blog Editor, I’m particularly lucky as I get to build relationships with staff on the Postgraduate Community Engagement Team, postgraduates at Warwick, official and guest blog contributors, our local and international readers, and pretty much any PhD student I cross paths with whom I then encourage to write for us!

However, I’m also lucky because I get to build relationships with other bloggers who also believe in supporting the global PhD community. One of them is Stine Ravnå, a PhD Candidate in Sociology of Education at the University of Cambridge. My relationship with Stine is currently being built over email and Twitter, which isn’t unusual as PhD students tend to find camaraderie through social media (although I hope I’ll get to meet Stine in person during my time in England).

Stine is one of the Blog Editors for FERSA University of Cambridge Blog. FERSA stands for Faculty of Education Research Students’ Association and they aim “to represent different voices and perspectives on our work and life as educational researchers.” One of FERSA’s initiatives is to unite PhD students one #PhDshelfie at a time! The idea is to share pictures of your bookshelf on Twitter/Instagram and reflect on the books that have made a difference on your PhD journey; FERSA will also post #PhDshelfie reflections on their blog.

I’ve decided to post my own #PhDshelfie here. To be honest, I’ve borrowed most of my PhD books from the Monash and Warwick libraries (money matters, am I right?), so I don’t get to hold on to them as long as I’d like (forever!). For a quick look at my current borrowed items, you can look at my #PhDlocker (it just doesn’t have the same ring to it) which is the cover of this post. The contents of my real #PhDshelfie in Australia are often not directly linked to my thesis, but have nonetheless made a difference.

While I miss having access to most of my books and DVDs (and puzzles and board games), what I miss the most is the cat that makes an appearance at the bottom of the shelf (hi Lambert!). However, if I had to select seven entries that have made a difference on my #PhDLife, I’d go for:

  1. Billion-Dollar Kiss by Jeffrey Stepakoff: it gave me an initial idea for my Master’s thesis on Dawson’s Creek and I am certain that without my time as a Master’s student, I wouldn’t be doing the teen TV melodrama research I am doing today.
  2. Phantasms by Adrian Martin: as a thank you gift for being his Research Assistant back in 2010, Adrian gave me a copy of his book with a nice hand-written dedication. While there’s lots of Adrian’s writing I could highlight, my default here is “Teen Movies: The Forgetting of Wisdom.”
  3. Reality TV edited by Susan Murray and Laurie Ouellette: I had the honour of having Jon Kraszewski (who wrote the chapter “Country Hicks and Urban Cliques: Mediating Race, Reality, and Liberalism on MTV’s The Real World”) as one of my undergraduate professors at TCU. Jon really connected with his students, going above and beyond to answer my initial inquiries about postgraduate life. I know I owe a lot to him (including having met my partner Adam in one of his classes), so having this book is a good reminder of where I started.
  4. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss: I know it’s a bit cheesy, but it always manages to lift my spirits whenever I start to doubt myself or my future in Higher Education.
  5. Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter: to say that I’ve become obsessed with this musical is an understatement. This is my go-to book when I need to read something other than theory.
  6. Welcome to My Country by Laklak Burarrwanga and family: last year I had the good fortune to spend time in Bawaka, North East Arnhem Land. This book encapsulates so many of the things I saw, heard, danced, ate and learned. If you also want to learn more about Indigenous Australians, then read this book and start with the knowledge of the Yolŋu people.
  7. Telenovela DVDs: maybe I’m cheating, but I couldn’t write my thesis on telenovelas without access to these DVDs!

So there you have it, support FERSA and share your own #PhDshelfie on Twitter. Don’t forget to tag @ResearchEx and @fersacambridge as we want to be inspired by your reading!

Until next time!

Sofia (@mextexausuk)


Images: Contributor’s own, taken by Sofia Rios and Adam Weiser.

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