ARTS, HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES A Day in the Life of a PhD Student by Margaret Masterson, PhD student in the Trinity School of English I’m usually up and drinking tea by 8am. My I’m production manager for a teen and YA literary journal partner, Priscilla, who is a nurse in Blackrock called Paper Lanterns , which was started by two of my MPhil Clinic, is out the door by 7am, but I’m a bit classmates. It’s a brilliant journal, a lot of it written by teen slower; I generally get to college by 10am. I creators. was a public librarian in the Chicago suburbs when I applied to do a one-year MPhil in Children’s Literature in Trinity in 2018. I really wasn’t expecting to fall this much in love with research, Trinity and rare books - but here I am five years later, deep into my PhD. I tend to chop my day into two-hour chunks. Meetings in the morning, then a lunch with colleagues, which I’ll bring in or grab from the Buttery, KC Peaches or Sprout. After lunch, I’ll do a session in the Early Printed Books reading room, a place I absolutely love. I’ll get lost in volumes on The Pollard Collection of Children’s Books is at book history and printing practices, bindings, the heart of my thesis.Bequeathed to Trinity typeface, illustration. The staff are wonderful, by Mary ‘Paul’ Pollard, it has over 12,000 titles published before 1914. To say the I tell people that too. My dream, when I finish my PhD, is to combine research with working as a collection is a treasure trove of research possibilities is an understatement. It was only catalogued in 2018. I’m lucky to be in Trinity is a cheaper midlife crisis than librarian on special collections. After that, I’ll shelve in the Ussher for a few hours, letting ideas percolate from the research the first cohort of scholars to study it. a Lamborghini I just did. I had no training in rare or early printed books until I came to Trinity. Dr Jane Carroll was such an inspiration and helped me articulate my belief in children’s books as souvenirs of childhood. After receiving the Pollard Fellowship in Irish Bibliography, I realised I wanted to go further and was thrilled to receive IRC funding for my PhD, supervised by Jane. It aims to do three things: first, it’s a textual analysis of the Maria Edgeworth stories for girls in the Pollard Collection; second, an analysis of print history and culture and producing books for children; and third, an analysis of collection theory, a look at why Pollard collected what she did and why Trinity thinks this collection is important. I have a desk in the Trinity Long Room Hub, alongside other early career researchers, and I’ll often go there in the morning. The Hub is a wonderful place, with a dynamic community. If it wasn’t for them during lockdown, I’d have lost my mind. Like other humanities PhD’s who work with archives, I couldn’t conduct my research online because I need to handle books in the Collection. I’m so happy to be back on campus full time. Like most PhDs, I juggle several commitments. I tutor on the Writing Childhood module which focuses on books written for children and books about childhood. I also invigilate at exam time and shelve books in the Ussher Library. And I take another break for tea, usually around 5pm, and then it’s back to my desk in the Hub until 8 or 9pm. My schedule doesn’t coincide with Priscilla’s, and she doesn’t necessarily get weekends off so we try coordinate time together during the week. We love hiking. We do the Howth cliff walk and the Glendalough trails regularly and we’re trying to visit every county in Ireland. We love stone circles, medieval churches and graveyards. Priscilla followed me over from Chicago; she might love Ireland even more than I do. We’ve three grown children in the States and we’re looking forward to finally having them over. They were supposed to come at Christmas, but they all tested positive for COVID! Not seeing them in person was the hardest thing about the last two years, but they’re thrilled about our move. My daughter who teaches in Chicago is constantly telling her students that anything is possible - she says ‘Look at my mom, in her 50’s, getting her PhD in Ireland’. I tell people that Trinity is a cheaper midlife crisis than a Lamborghini. I like to be in bed by 10pm, with a cup of tea and a book. I won’t read anything for the thesis but I will read (and love) the YA books reviewed by teens in Paper Lanterns , and contemporary Irish writers in all genres except crime. I’m currently reading Caroline Busher’s The Legend of Valentine Sorrow and Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat .
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