A little personal information: I’ve just moved from York to East London, where I’m about to start researching a PhD in Eighteenth Century History (based at the University of Wales). I’ve always found it hard to decide if I prefer writing about literature or history, so in my PhD I’ve tried to find a way of doing both. My topic (about Celtic identity) means that I can write about radical revolutionary protest groups, novelists, archaeologists, Romantic poets, or, basically, whatever else takes my fancy. The rest of the time I like going to gigs, listening to music, and playing my harp (by myself, sometimes in orchestras, or in any band that’ll have me).
I’ve chosen to volunteer with Arts Emergency because whenever I think about my academic career, I’m always very aware of the extent to which family, friends, and contacts have helped me achieve what I’ve achieved. Friends who’d graduated from Oxbridge stopped me from feeling overawed about applying. My parents, who are teachers, told me about the scholarships that allowed me to carry on studying at postgraduate level. People round me at school convinced me that, despite the (pre-Coalition) student debt, a less “useful” humanities course was right for me, not only because I was passionate about my subject but because of the number of things I could do with it after graduating. The opportunity to, hopefully, give others a similar kind of support (especially when government is putting such ridiculous obstacles in the way of prospective humanities students) would be more than a pleasure. Also (on a more selfish note), as I’m intending to become a humanities academic, the last thing I want is to spend my entire life teaching undergraduate classes of only the rich and the privileged. As it is, historical and literary academia is dominated by the already well-off; anything that we can do to change that can only be a good thing.