During my undergraduate degree, I became increasingly interested in the different ways in which people “performed” online, and the ways in which our relationships with machines affected us. My interest piqued, I decided that I wanted to continue studying in order to attempt to satisfy my curiosity.
I have a BA in Performance Studies and Drama from Aberystwyth University. I initially looked into doing an MA or an MRes, but was lucky enough to find the opportunity to do my PhD with Coventry University.
I’m based in the School of Media and Performing Arts, and after undergoing several revisions at the beginning of the PhD my project now explores the lived experience of posthuman subjectivity using autoethnographic data collected during game play in the massively multiplayer online role playing game World of Warcraft. For me, this methodology fits perfectly with my previous experience from my degree in terms of using my own experiences and reflecting critically on them. Through my autoethnographic reflections, I document the emotional, affective, embodied, empathic and performative aspects which are at play in the relationship between avatar and gamer. As Braidotti suggests, ‘the relationship between the human and the technological other has shifted in the contemporary context, to reach unprecedented degrees of intimacy and intrusion’ (2013: 89), and in my research I argue that the gamer is one embodied example of this.
It’s been a fascinating journey, and I’m now in the writing up year of my PhD after 3 years full time so currently manage my research alongside lecturing. One of the things that I think is really daunting about starting a PhD is how lost you can feel at the beginning – there’s a whole world of research out there and it can be quite scary!
The thing is, PhDs really aren’t a linear process – sometimes things go really well and everything is working fantastically, but other times you can feel a bit stuck. If you start to feel like these are issues that are affecting you and you’re worried about it – don’t panic, we’ve all been there! A PhD is one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences you will have, and you learn so much over the course of studying. That said, if you ever want to share your experiences or ask questions about what you can expect then please do get in touch!
If your research overlaps into fields of digital cultures, performance, lived experience in research methods, embodiment or posthumanism it would also be great to hear from you and discuss your work.
Poppy’s Top Tip: parting words of wisdom are: make technology your friend! There are so many great apps and software packages out there that will really take a lot of hassle out of the PhD, so take the time to get to know them early on.
Also, try to give up sugar in your tea/coffee, because you’ll be drinking a lot of them in the years ahead!