Welcome to The Gradgrind! We are Linda Miller (left) and Shannon Booth (right), two dreamers who met while working at Oxford University and both grinding our way through PhDs. We may have chosen the difficult path - studying with insufficient funding or help, working at the same time - but we both decided it was worthwhile (if not always in the ways we expected). We have set up The Gradgrind to offer the advice and community that we wish we’d had.

Linda’s Story:

Hi, I’m Linda - or as no one calls me, Dr Miller.

I finished my PhD in Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia (UK) at the end of 2012, and have since been trying to work out what to do with it. I would have loved to get an academic job, but couldn’t afford to scrape by on hourly-paid teaching while trying to get one, so I spent a year working as an events manager at Oxford University, and then a year working in outreach at Warwick University. I have also been running a blog based on my PhD research into human beauty in literature and culture, called Beautiful in Theory, and finally started writing that novel I was always talking about. It may not have been the career course I was planning, but it’s been interesting and I don’t regret any of it.

And that’s the thing with doing a PhD nowadays. It’s no longer a straight route into academia because, quite frankly, academia is in a mess and there aren’t enough jobs for all the people coming out of PhD programmes every year. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and that’s where The Gradgrind comes in: it’s a place to find all the information that your university should give you (but probably doesn’t), a reliable proofreading and advice service, and a community where we can all share our experiences. The Gradgrind is intended to take some of the grind out of grad life, as a forum for thinking creatively about the PhD - before, during and after. Welcome.

Shannon’s Story:

Hi, I’m Shannon. I work in the Development Office at the University of Oxford. I am also a part-time PhD candidate at the University of Roehampton, reading Cultural Studies. My thesis focuses on material feminism, excess, and (trans)national identity within contemporary French cinema.

I firmly believe in utilising doctoral research to create an extensive portfolio that reflects the demands of contemporary theory and research, and extends beyond the academy. I am thus an associate for an interdisciplinary doctoral training partnership scheme at Roehampton, which allows graduates the opportunity to gain skills suiting a variety of professional roles within their industry. I am a complete cinephile, especially where horror is concerned, and have experience in short documentary and fictional filmmaking. I am currently working on a couple of scripts, and have a film project in the pipeline.

Making academia accessible to readers and audiences outside of the usual channels is very important to me, and this is something I endeavour to engage with across my research, filmmaking interests, and via the Gradgrind. Step inside: we have such sights to show you.

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