Circumstances have conspired against me over the last month, and a death in the family, combined with Christmas, has meant that my mind has been elsewhere.
However, this doesn't mean that Newton Park and Miss Dawson haven't been in my mind. Far from it, as aspects of my research are always somewhere in my thinking. I have reflected before about chance conversations and their ability to spark new trains of thought, and the same things happen when one takes a step away from the daily graft. Time away gives space for research thinking, and so the recent break has allowed new thoughts in.
As well as time, I've had the opportunity to talk to a range of different people about my research, therefore 'talking out' some ideas. This is a great test of theories, as formulation of ideas happens as you speak. Yet another layer of thinking results when other people ask questions, and I've had to really think about ways to explain some of the concepts and why I think they're important.
An example of this came recently, when I gave a presentation on my research for the inaugural meeting of the BSU History Network. I opted for a powerpoint, with a script, although this is not my normal or preferred method of delivery. I think this is a good indication of my relatively muddled perspective at the moment (although whether this reflects my PhD stage or recent events, I'm not sure) Once I was talking, I gained confidence to go away from the script, and answering questions afterwards gave me the chance to talk more confidently about my studies.
Although the audience was not large (perhaps around 25) the most valuable aspect of the experience was the same opportunity to 'talk it out', and to really establish where my current thinking stands. I realise that I'm still not firm in theories of memory, or some of the feminist arguments.
These are the two areas I will focus on more firmly in the coming weeks, as well as beginning to write down some of my research, in an attempt to clarify ideas even more.