In our last post, Jo introduced the work she’s doing with Hidden Perspectives in Auckland. She’s not the only one working on this exciting collaboration – we’re delighted to have two MA student interns from the School of English in Sheffield working with us. Mel Smiley and Rachel Davies are working for both Hidden Perspectives in Sheffield and in Auckland between February and May 2017. As part of their projects they will be creating and managing a website and social media for the Auckland project, and will host an event to celebrate research which brings the Arts and Humanities out of the closet in Sheffield.
So let’s meet them:
Hello! Tell us about yourself… who are you and what do you do?
Hello! I’m Rachel Davies and I’m an MA English Literature Student at The University of Sheffield. I completed my undergraduate degree at Sheffield this summer and loved my time in the City, particularly in the School of English., and so I decided to stay on to complete my Masters. Throughout my studies at a BA level, I was always interested in researching and revealing ‘hidden’ narratives in Literature. This interest has persisted into the MA I am now pursuing and so I am really excited to be working with Hidden Perspectives and getting some practical experience in a work environment involving a subject I am passionate about. My first undergraduate essay discussed allegorical homosexuality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and my last undergraduate essay explored the hidden homosexual narratives in Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier alongside Katherine Mansfield’s At the Bay and Bliss. My work has so far explored ‘hidden’ narratives in a multitude of genres and periods and for my MA I am focusing on researching these narratives more specifically within the Hellenistic era.
Hello! I’m Mel Smiley and I’m studying an MA in English Literature with the hopes of getting into publishing somewhere down the line (probably after I’ve managed to get the travelling bug out of my system). It’s my fourth year here in Sheffield, as I completed my BA in Language and Literature with the University in 2016.
How did you get involved in Hidden Perspectives? Tell us about your internship.
Mel: Work experience is a key part of landing a job with any publishing company and so I was keen to take part in the work placement module on offer within the Sheffield MA programme. Hidden Perspectives stood out to me because the workload included event organising, writing and editing articles, website management and the opportunity to get involved with the new Hidden Perspectives’ launch in New Zealand. Experience in these areas is invaluable, particularly with how competitive publishing can be. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity and to be able to take part in setting up a brand new venture for Hidden Perspectives abroad. However, I was somewhat disappointed this opportunity didn’t involve an all expenses paid trip to New Zealand…
In the second half of my placement I am excited that Rachel and I will have the chance to organise an event in Sheffield for Hidden Perspectives in the UK. This will be a great opportunity for us to get some practical experience and to provide a platform for academic research that we are interested in and that challenges the norm.
Rachel: As part of the MA programme this year we have been able to select a work placement module. We were given a plethora of options and asked to defend our first choice in a 200 word statement. Hidden Perspectives was my first choice and so I am very happy to have been given this placement. It is exciting that I now have the chance to continue my academic research whilst also being afforded invaluable work experience. During my internship, I am hoping that Mel and I will be able to successfully set up and manage both the Hidden Perspectives’ blog and Social Media, as well as helping manage events for the UK project.
Rachel, what interests you about Hidden Perspectives?
Throughout my undergraduate studies I found myself returning to discussions of gender and sexuality and have continued to do so in my MA. Therefore, Hidden Perspectives seemed a natural fit when I was choosing a work placement. Until this year, I haven’t really explored any work earlier than the 16th Century, but I’m excited to be involved in an organisation that considers the Bible as a resource for creating discussions around gender, sexuality, race and class. During one of my current MA modules – ‘Love, Death & Destiny: The Ancient Novel’, I had the chance to look at both early Jewish and Christian narrative fiction. I enjoyed the chance to extend my research, and look forward to continuing to do so on my placement.
What else are you working on at the moment? What are you hopes after your MA and this internship?
Mel: I have recently completed a module called Confession where I have explored different literary forms of confession throughout history, beginning with St. Augustine. I had an assessment at the end of this where I decided to study the diaries of Anne Lister and explore how they have shaped the discourse of lesbian history. The diaries were written in the nineteenth century and explore Lister’s sexual identity as a lesbian in explicit detail. Her diaries have had a massive impact on studies into female sexuality and gender and have been an invaluable resource for lesbian history today. After researching such a powerful female figure and seeing how far the discovery of her sexuality went towards discrediting the once common belief that lesbianism didn’t exist at this time, it is easy to see how important it is that we bring the bible out of the closet and away from the normative gaze. I think uncovering these lost narratives and challenging a history that only caters to one identity is crucial and I’m really excited to be a part of it.
Rachel: I have recently completed my first semester of my MA which involved two modules – ‘The Analysis of Film’ and ‘Love, Death & Destiny: The Ancient Novel’. For ‘The Analysis of Film’, I am analysed how the contemporary romantic-comedy, (500) Days of Summer, subverts the conventions of Classicism. I did this by looking at how gender is constructed and portrayed in the film. In a similar vein, for ‘Love, Death & Destiny’ I investigated why homosexuality is a marginalised narrative within Hellenistic novels and focused on Longus’s work, Daphnis and Chloe. I am hoping to continue working with Ancient Greek literature for my dissertation and I am also thinking of applying for my PhD in the next few years, where I would like to continue researching homosexuality in the ancient novels.
Mel, what are your hopes for the future of Hidden Perspectives?
My current hopes for the future of Hidden Perspectives are that me and Rachel are helpful additions to the team and manage to run things smoothly! Aside from this however, I hope it continues to build in strength and picks up an even larger following online, in Sheffield and with the new team in New Zealand.
I’m very grateful for this opportunity and thank you for having me!