Enhancing the Doctoral Experience: A Guide for Supervisors and Their International Students. Steve Hutchinson, Helen Lawrence, and Dave Filipović-Carter

This an excellent, thoughtfully-produced pragmatic guide to the very fine and complicated art of doctoral supervision across cultures, writes Casey Brienza.

This review originally appeared on the LSE Review of Books blog, and is reproduced here with permission. You can read the original post here.

Enhancing the doctoral experienceIt was with tremendous anticipation that I received Enhancing the Doctoral Experience: A Guide for Supervisors and Their International Students for review. My interests, personal and professional, in the subject are twofold: Firstly, I used to be an international student myself, and the first time I ever left my home country to study for a degree abroad was as an American undertaking a PhD at the University of Cambridge (which, my fellow Americans, is in England, not Massachusetts). Now, though, the shoe is on the other foot, and I hold a permanent academic post at a doctoral-granting institution in the United Kingdom, so supervising PhD students is a part of the job description. Would this book reflect truthfully upon my own experiences while shining an illuminating light upon an area of teaching for which, I am not afraid to admit, I feel woefully under-prepared for, in a system of higher education I still do not fully understand?

On the face of things, the authors of this book, Steve Hutchinson, Helen Lawrence, and Dave Filipović-Carter, do not seem to be the most ideally positioned to be writing anything authoritative on this topic. Although all three hold PhDs (in zoology, sociolinguistics, and international law, respectively), none of them supervise PhD students. However, they assert, in their careers as freelance development consultants to academics and other researchers, each has met thousands of international research students, many of whose studies were troubled by various aspects of their relationships with their doctoral supervisors. A book on the subject ought to be useful, they concluded. It would be difficult to disagree.

In fact, a modicum of distance from the day-to-day practice of doctoral supervision may have been an asset. Often, the things closest to us are the hardest to see with clarity. Drawing upon cognitive and managements theories and a diverse range of empirical data, including survey questionnaires, interviews with researchers at a range of career stages, and even, at times, just ‘asking a roomful of international research students to write a piece of advice on a sticky note for a new doctoral student from their own country,’ Enhancing the Doctoral Experience painstakingly deconstructs every conceivable aspect of interpersonal interaction between supervisor and supervisee likely to occur in the context of a British doctoral education. Applicable frameworks for relationship development and pragmatic advice for making it all work across cultures and potentially language barriers are then provided in abundance throughout.

The book is organized, roughly speaking, into thirteen chapters which can be further divided into five parts. The first introduces the UK doctorate and what makes it distinctive. The second explores international students’ motivations for wanting to do a doctorate in the UK and what they are likely to expect as a consequence. The third focuses on how to start off right and build an effective relationship with one’s student. The fourth consists of six chapters, one for each of the so-called ‘Dublin Descriptors’ of competencies that students who have completed a PhD must demonstrate at the end of their course. These chapters range widely, from advice about how to guide students through a review of the existing literature to working on public outreach and impact. The fifth and final section provides advice for preparing for the viva.

There are so many suggestions, visualizations, and practical exercises presented here about every conceivable angle of interaction between supervisor and student, at every stage of the relationship, that reading this book in one go to learn how to be a good (or better) supervisor, as I did, is probably not advisable. The amount of information might easily become overwhelming. Instead, the book’s greatest utility, in my view, is as a targeted how-to manual, to be consulted when running into trouble or, ideally, before one begins to tinker and fiddle with unfamiliar parts of the proverbial machine. The onus of effective doctoral education rests far more heavily on the shoulders of an individual supervisor in the British system than it does in some others, such as that of the United States, where it’s generally assumed to take a village—or an entire department of academic staff—to raise a PhD. There were all too many potential issues which, despite having been a UK PhD student myself, I probably would not have considered on my own as part of a supervisor’s remit.

In fact, the book’s greatest strength, its level of detail, is also its greatest weakness. Although the title does not make it explicit, it must be made absolutely clear: Enhancing the Doctoral Experience is about enhancing the doctoral experience in the UK,where doing a PhD is, with some exceptions, narrowly equated to doing an 80,000-word thesis. Thus, in spite of a wealth of material about advising international students in their writing and research, there was little, say, about advising international students about preparing for the next stage of their careers or applying for academic jobs. Not a word, even, on how to write good reference letters! I was also saddened by the authors’ seemingly unquestioned acceptance of the premise that the student would be paying hugely, either in actual cash terms, or through indirect opportunity costs, for their degree certificate and that part of the raison d’être for improving supervisory provision was providing better value for money. The authors’ default assumption seemed to be that these international students would come to the UK and then, upon receipt of their PhD, they would head back home. I speak from personal experience here: That ain’t always true.

Nevertheless, this an excellent, thoughtfully-produced pragmatic guide to the very fine and complicated art of doctoral supervision across cultures. Its focus on each and every conceivable aspect of the production of a thesis, in particular, is invaluable. I am sure that I will be returning to Enhancing the Doctoral Experience frequently in years to come for advice and tips on making the PhD process a successful and mutually beneficial endeavour. Recommended.

Casey Brienza is a sociologist and Lecturer in Publishing and Digital Media at City University London’s Department of Culture and Creative Industries. She holds a first degree from Mount Holyoke College, an MA in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis, titled ‘Domesticating Manga: Japanese Comics, American Publishing, and the Transnational Production of Culture,’ and is currently being revised into a book manuscript. Casey also has refereed articles in print or forthcoming in International Journal of Cultural Policy, Journal of Popular Culture, Studies in Comics, and more. She may be reached through her website.

A human factors approach to hostile intent and counter-terrorism

Hostile Intent and Counter TerrorismWhile there is much research into counter-terrorism, until now there has not been a single source that deals with the issue from a human factors and psychology perspective. Hostile Intent and Counter-Terrorism fills that gap. Part of the Ashgate Human Factors in Defence series, the book is of value not only to researchers in the field but also security stakeholders at policy and practitioner level.

‘In this insightful and incisive text, Stedmon, Lawson and their many colleagues and co-contributors grapple with one of the most pressing issues for our species and our survival on this planet. They undertake to show how the integration of people and technology is at once the genesis of and potential solution to the vexed problems of contemporary asymmetric conflict, expressed through terrorism. But more than this, their crucial collective deliberations mandate that we consider what our future society can and should look like. These are issues at the very heart of the human enterprise. Thus, while both a timely and important text for the declared central concern for counter-terrorism and the place of human factors and ergonomics in that struggle, their work forces us to examine the inherent sub-text which asks and addresses persistent and perennial questions about the individual and their place in a communal and technologically-driven society. Accessible to the general reader, yet of great value to the involved professional, this text is one that must be widely read in order that we understand what threats surround us and what avenues we all possess to resolve them.’   Peter A. Hancock, University of Central Florida, USA

‘This book has an important contribution to make to those seeking to develop counter-terrorism policy and practices informed by evidence-based scholarship. It contains a diverse set of reflections from around the world, inspired by a group of researchers who initially came together to consider ways of developing robust, reliable and ethical ways of detecting the covert activities of terrorists in crowded places. This book illustrates, in its scale and scope, the size and complexity of the challenge.’   Tristram Riley-Smith, University of Cambridge, UK

Hostile Intent and Counter-Terrorism is edited by Alex Stedmon, Coventry University and Glyn Lawson, The University of Nottingham. You can find out more about the book on the Ashgate website, where you can also read the preface from Matt Jones.

Contents:  Foreword, Don Harris; Preface, Matt Jones; Hostile intent and counter-terrorism: strategic issues and the research landscape, Alex Stedmon and Glyn Lawson. Part 1 Conceptualising Terrorism: The role of fear in terrorism, Alex Braithwaite; Understanding terrorism through criminology? Merging crime control and counter-terrorism in the UK, Pete Fussey; Analysing the terrorist brain: neurobiological advances, ethical concerns and social implications, Valentina Bartolucci; Ethical issues in surveillance and privacy, Ron Iphofen. Part 2 Deception and Decision-Making: Non-verbal cues to deception and their relationship to terrorism, Dawn L. Eubanks, Ke Zhang and Lara Frumkin; Deception detection in counter-terrorism, Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal and Samantha Mann; A field trial to investigate human pheromones associated with hostile intent, Peter Eachus, Alex Stedmon and Les Baillie; On the trail of the terrorist: a research environment to simulate criminal investigations, Alexandra L. Sandham, Thomas C. Ormerod, Coral J. Dando and Tarek Menacere. Part 3 Modelling Hostile Intent: Safety and security in rail systems: drawing from the prevention of railway suicide and trespass to inform security interventions, Brendan Ryan; Tackling financial and economic crime through strategic intelligence management, Simon Andrews, Simon Polovina, Babak Akhgar, Andrew Staniforth, Dave Fortune and Alex Stedmon; Competitive adaptation in militant networks: preliminary findings from an Islamist case study, Michael Kenney, John Horgan, Cale Horne, Peter Vining, Kathleen M. Carley, Mia Bloom and Kurt Braddock; Evaluating emergency preparedness: using responsibility models to identify vulnerabilities, Gordon Baxter and Ian Sommerville. Part 4 Sociocultural Factors: Unintended consequences of the ‘War on Terror’: home-grown terrorism and conflict-engaged citizens returning to civil society, John Parkinson and Andrew Staniforth; Parasites, energy and complex systems: generating novel intervention options to counter recruitment to suicide terrorism, Mils Hills and Ashwin Mehta; Terrorist targeting of schools and educational establishments, Emma Bradford and Margaret A. Wilson; Female suicide terrorism as a function of patriarchal societies, Tanya Dronzina. Part 5 Strategies and Approaches for Counter-Terrorism: Designing visible counter-terrorism interventions in public spaces, Ben Dalton, Karen Martin, Claire McAndrew, Marialena Nikolopoulou and Teal Triggs; A macro-ergonomics perspective on security: a rail case study, Rose Saikayasit, Alex Stedmon and Glyn Lawson; Deception and speech: a theoretical overview to inform future research, Christin Kirchhübel, David M. Howard and Alex Stedmon; Evaluating counter-terrorism training using behavioural measures theory, Joan H. Johnston and V. Alan Spiker. Part 6 Future Directions: Hostile intent and counter-terrorism: future research themes and questions, Alex Stedmon and Glyn Lawson. Index.

Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California – ‘an essential monograph’

Manufacturing the modern patron in Victorian CaliforniaPosted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

One year since the publication of John Ott’s Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority, a review written by Bruce Robertson, well-known curator and art historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been published in caa.reviews.

He writes:

‘This tight focus produces excitingly close and complex readings of works and events, offering new insights into well-known objects and actions … it is patronage, not just the collecting of art, that most concerns Ott. And this is what brings the book to life: the cut and thrust of patronage, of clients’ demands and artists’ resistance … and patronage resoundingly resisted by those whom it is supposed to benefit. Abiding within the circumscribed boundaries of his project, Ott succeeds in making major contributions not just as a patronage study, but also in regard to how works of art are produced and disseminated and understood in this period, how visual systems are created and the work they do, how museums grow, and so on. The book becomes an essential monograph for understanding how American visual culture is created and performs in this period.’

John Ott, who is Associate Professor of Art History at James Madison University, received a publication grant for his book from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. His book uses the example of Central Pacific Railroad executives to rewrite narratives of American art from the perspective of patrons and collectors, rather than the usual art historical protagonists – the artists themselves. The new modern elite classes are shown to use art – regional landscapes, panoramic and stop-motion photography, history paintings of the California Gold Rush, the architecture of Stanford University, and the design of domestic galleries – to legitimise trends in industrial capitalism. Art consumers are thus taken seriously as active contributors to the cultural meanings of artwork.

Robertson ends his review: ‘one thing is for certain, Ott’s book is a worthy successor to [Sarah] Burn’s study [Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture in Gilded Age America (New Haven, 1996)], and it should have a similarly galvanizing effect on the field.’ We look forward to seeing the book’s effect on art historical scholarship in the years to come.

Ann C. Colley on Wild Animal Skins in Victorian Britain

 

Ann C ColleyPosted by Ann Donahue, Publisher

Ann C. Colley (pictured) talks to Ann Donahue about her new book, Wild Animal Skins in Victorian Britain: Zoos, Collections, Portraits, and Maps

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I had just finished my Victorians in the Mountains: Sinking the Sublime, which had not only appealed to my love of landscape and admiration for climbers, but had also taken me to libraries and clubs on both sides of the Atlantic. It was when I entered the Wellcome Institute on Euston Road that something clicked. The Institute had launched a special exhibit on “Skin” that I found absolutely fascinating. I recall seeing pieces of tattooed skin taken from sailors in the nineteenth century and wondering about the role of skin and identity. Knowing that the role of skin in human portraiture during the Victorian era has been well rehearsed, I turned my thinking to animal skins and portraiture. Before I knew it, I was launched.

Wild animal skins in Victorian BritainYour book connects to so many areas of current interest in the humanities, including animal studies, museums, collecting, sensory studies, and the history of science. Were you surprised at the multiple directions in which your research led you?

No. Indeed I was drawn to the subject because it would do just that. Cultural studies are appealing because they engage so many intersecting disciplines and take one into unusual archives and libraries not open to the general public. Once I began accumulating materials, I immediately saw that the project would fit into the current interest in animal studies, museum studies, theories of portraiture, British colonialism, collecting, theories of touch and skin, as well as in history of science.

You came upon some fascinating characters in the course of your research, including the Earl of Derby. Can you say a few words about him as a collector and his association with Edward Lear?

For several years I have been buying Lear’s watercolor sketches as well as lithographs of his natural history paintings. Through this interest, of course, I knew that between 1831 and 1837, he was employed by the 12th Earl of Derby and later by the Earl’s son to sketch and paint portraits of the wild animals and exotic birds kept on the estate, which was the site of England’s largest private menagerie. To amass their amazing collection, the 12th and the 13th Earls commissioned collectors and agents from all over the world. The resulting correspondence between the 13th Earl of Derby and these agents makes for incredible reading. Lear was privy to this world and to those who worked for and were related to the Earl of Derby.

I was fascinated to learn that collecting animal skins was not just the prerogative of the privileged classes as I would have thought that collecting these specimens would be extremely costly. How common was this form of collecting among working- and middle-class individuals?

There are several studies of the working class and their interest in science, particularly those that discuss the fact that mill owners and manufacturers often encouraged their employees to learn as much as they could about the sciences so as to create a more knowledgeable workforce. Jane Camerini, John M. MaKenzie, E.P. Thompson, and Katie Whitaker, among others, have all written on the topic. For me, the most convincing and vivid evidence came from Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton in which she makes a point of mentioning that the working-class men of Manchester were “warm and devoted followers” of the “more popularly interesting branches of natural history.” They “knew the name and habitat of every plant within a day’s walk from their dwelling.” Her character Job Legh, a self-educated spinner, who has access to the Liverpool docks where sailors would return with exotic specimens, is one of these “warm and devoted followers.”

In some ways, the interest in animal skins strikes me as analogous to the Victorians’ passion for travel writing. What was it about these specimens that was so appealing?

I, myself, travel to exotic places and write accounts of my sometimes disastrous adventures and have found that the wild life of a place is what defines the experience for me. When I was working on Wild Animal Skins, I discovered a similar impulse was at work among the Victorian public, who were fascinated by exotic birds and animals in faraway lands and would go to great lengths to see exhibits of these, to collect them (though I hasten to add I do not own any taxidermy specimens!), and to learn as much as it could about them. As I say in the introduction to my book “skin was not only a basic ingredient of portraiture but also the site of encounter with the exotic world.”

Many people would find a home adorned with animal skins from so-called exotic locales shocking and collecting such specimens is often illegal. Was the collecting of wild animal skins controversial during the Victorian era?

No. Unlike many, perhaps most, people today, the Victorians experienced little sense of guilt in looking at, owning, arranging, and admiring stuffed birds and animals. They rarely, if at all, thought about extinction. Even Darwin shot the last fox on the Galapagos Island. For them the distant world was full of plenty. That is not to say the Victorians were insensitive to the pain inflicted on animals. One has to remember that it is in the Victorian period that the antivivisectionists were active. I am not sure why, but taxidermy is coming back in style. One can go to a booth at a market in London to learn how to remove the skin of a bird or a mouse and stuff it. At a wedding recently I met a person from Brooklyn who practices taxidermy in her apartment. Skin will always elicit pleasure, disgust, and curiosity.

About the Author: Ann C. Colley is a SUNY Distinguished Professor at the State University College of New York at Buffalo. She has published numerous articles and books, including Victorians in the Mountains, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Colonial Imagination, Nostalgia and Recollection in Victorian Culture, The Search for Synthesis in Literature and Art: The Paradox of Space, Edward Lear and the Critics, and Tennyson and Madness.

In memory of Sacvan Bercovitch

Posted by Ann Donahue, Publisher

In memory of the eminent scholar Sacvan Bercovitch, his friend and colleague Professor Nan Goodman at the University of Colorado offers this memoriam:

On December 9, 2014, the great Sacvan Bercovitch passed away.  Professor Bercovitch or Saki, as he was known to friends and colleagues, was a brilliant scholar of early American literature and culture. His work on Puritan rhetoric, most significantly, the jeremiad—a long complaint that simultaneously castigates and inspires its audience—has become the symbol of a strain of American literature that continues into our own day.  In addition to his work on the Puritans, Professor Bercovitch produced many works of lasting significance on nineteenth-century American authors, including Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  His intellectual generosity knew no bounds, and essays demonstrating his influence on American literary scholarship by his many grateful readers, students, and colleagues can be found in Ashgate’s 2011 volume, The Turn Around Religion: Literature, Culture, and the Work of Sacvan Bercovitch. Saki’s unusual view of American literature was born in part of his having grown up as a Canadian Jew.  As an outsider—a status he always cherished–he could see more clearly than most what the “myth of America,” as he called it, was all about.  Friends and colleagues mourn the loss not only of a critical genius, but of a kind and compassionate man.

Sara Khan on the battle for British Islam

Following the attacks in Paris last week, one of the contributors to our book Sensible Religion, Sara Khan, spoke on the BBC Panorama programme ‘The Battle for British Islam’. The programme is available to UK viewers on BBC iPlayer.

Sara Khan is Director and Co-Founder of Inspire, a non-governmental advocacy organisation (NGO) working to counter extremism and gender inequality. Her chapter in Sensible Religion is entitled “Retrieving the equilibrium and Restoring Justice: Using islam’s egalitarian teachings to Reclaim women’s Rights”.

The chapter examines Islam’s teachings on women’s rights and the purpose of shariah as a dynamic and sophisticated process for establishing equilibrium, securing justice and serving the public interest. It also explores the dominance of a literal decontextualized and patriarchal interpretation of Islam’s religious texts which has influenced sections of Muslim thought. It outlines the historical and contemporary reality of some Muslims, in manipulating and misusing Islam for their own authority whether political, economic or social to those Muslims who through the combined use of modern day Islamic law and international human rights law have secured the rights of Muslim women.

Read the full text of the chapter in Sensible Religion here.

Claire Tomalin on Beryl Gray: ‘Dickensians will love her book’ (The Guardian, 2014)

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

‘[Beryl] Gray is an intelligent and sensitive reader of Dickens’s work and her arguments are worth following. Dickensians will love her book’, writes award-winning biographer Claire Tomalin, whose book The Invisible Woman (1990) was recently adapted into a biographical drama directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes.

The dog in the Dickensian imaginationTomalin’s review of Gray’s The Dog in the Dickensian Imagination, which appeared in the Guardian in December, is testament to Dickens’ enduring popularity, as well as to the growing fascination with animals and their representation in fiction and art. Gray’s book shows how Dickens’ works frequently engaged with dogs, both real and imagined, during an era where canine company was a common characteristic of urban and domestic life. The dogs that Dickens kept and encountered became intrinsic to the author’s literary vision and to his representations of nineteenth-century London.

Beryl Gray’s book is the latest to be published in The Nineteenth Century Series, edited by Joanne Shattock and Vincent Newey. It was launched on the 20th November at a private function in Lumen United Reform Church, a hop, skip and a jump away from Tavistock Square, which served as Dickens’ residence for several years. Shattock, who spoke at the launch, declared herself ‘delighted to see the book in print – with its arresting dust jacket and its sumptuous illustrations.’ She added, ‘we are very pleased to have this book in the Nineteenth Century series, where, unsurprisingly Dickens has featured prominently. Quoting Claire Tomalin’s point that Dickens saw the world more vividly than other people, Beryl Gray suggests he saw dogs more vividly than other people … Gray offers insightful readings of familiar texts, and many astute readings of the illustrations, showing the way novelist and illustrator worked together, and instances of where they did not.’