Newsletter #4 March 2012

There has been a bit of a hiatus since the last newsletter, an indication of the busy-ness of this new semester, a busy-ness partly ‘encouraged’?since Julian retired, but also the consequence of?increasing PGR (doctoral) activity in the LTE Doctoral Community and beyond.

The observant amongst you will have noticed that the numbers of profiles has increased in nearly all categories. Thus, we have now welcomed:

  • [Current Students] three researchers from the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology (Parneet, Emily, and Sophia) each of whom has a narrative research orientation;
  • [Prospective Students] a good number (and more will arrive in coming weeks and months) of ‘new blood’ for our community (Edgar, Diana, Fitri, Hussain, Khwan, Maria) – and it is pleasing to note that Diana, Fitri and Maria are alumni from our MA programm in previous years (Maria will only be with us for 3 months from April 2012as part of her European Doctorate) – I note that Maria and Fitri represent a CLIL cluster; and
  • [Research Associates] Ayesha Bashiruddin in Pakistan (an ex-MA student of Julian’s from Durham some years back) who also has narrative interests (more on this below).

I am also aware that with Magdalena De Stefani”s viva upcoming in early May, there is scope for moving her from ‘curent’ to ‘former’ in the not too distant futre. We wish her well in her final preparations for submission of the thesis next month. I can also note that there are several others in the ‘writing up’ (not an image I like) push, including Paul, Helen and Tanya. Again, we wish them well in this endeavour – which can be a lonely slog, a personal struggle with unwieldy chunks of text, a sense of loss as things already drafted have to be cut (as the reality of the submittable thesis takes over in some ways). In this regard, I remember that Mariam posted a while back with her insights on the writing up process – these were very useful then and they remain so now).

We have had some Panel activity also in recent months – both Sophia and Magda went to Panel in January – and it would be great to hear more about these experiences, thereby building on the Panel experiences posted by eg Paul Breen. For Sophia, the January Panel involved the brave step of returning to Panel for a second time armed with a completely new proposal – Sophia, have you updated your Profile page accordingly? For Magda, the experience foregrounded the increasingly challenging task of demonstrating full awareness of the ethical and risks issues associated with researching one’s own professional context and the need for this awareness to then be linked to strategies for managing the issues in ways which our sponsoring institition (i.e. The University of Manchester) can approve. As a community, we are getting better at this but, I for one, know that I still need to attune my radar more to the developing processes we work with regarding ethical and risk assessment and approval.

When I drafted my last Newsletter (#3), many of us were working owards a collective set?of submissions (papers and Panel) to the big Narrative Matters 2012 conference in Paris at the end of May. This was heavily over-subscribed and most of what we submitted was unsuccessful. Lou has provided some post-Paris suggestions which are still very much pending, an item for us to return to? For example, can we and should we organise a narrative day in Ellen Wilkinson building in eg July at which we present the material originally for Paris plus other contributions? Meanwhile, I am delighted that some of those Paris submissions have already found happy homes elsewhere (Canterbury).

Keeping to narrative issues for?a moment, our symposium-like (i.e. chat over a? beer) pleasingly?named “Narrative Natters” fortnighly supportive discussion group seems to becoming a regular thing. Long may it continue!

I also want to say how pleased I was that Tanya and Eljee (and myself in the background) organised a day-long intriduction to Narrative Research for the D. Counselling Psychology Year 1 cohort; again, I hope this will continue.

I mentioned our Research Associate Ayesha Bashiruddin above. I like the way that networks build and Ayesha came onto my radar as she contacted her former tutor, Julian, to discuss a narrative project bid. This has now been submitted and we await news from the British Academy funding body.

I think that is probably enogh for one Newsletter, but finally, a reminder to please keep us posted here of your conference submissions, planning and actual papers, and also about any articles and chapters (thinking, submissions and publications).



  • Magda Rostron

    Thanks for the update, Richard. I have now addressed the Panel’s concerns in regard to the ethics- and risk-related aspect of my proposed study amd am awaiting the outcome of the proposal’s “second reading”. As soon as we know what further remarks it has generated, I will post a more detailed report on my Panel experience, including the ethics issues that emerged.


    • Richard Fay

      Thanks Magda. I think that, once you are through and can stand back from the experience a little, there will be some very valuable insights to share regarding the business of demonstrating ethical/risk awareness in our research texts as well as having research designs that, informed by such awareness, explicitly accommodate ethical complexities.

  • Tanya Halldórsdóttir

    Wow, what a lot we’ve been up to! Just re-read Mariam’s thoughts on the so-called ‘writing-up’ process (why not writing out, or ‘into’ even – given that we do tend to write our way (eventually!) into a clarity, which (hopefully) demonstrates our knowledge/mastery?) which made me laugh, smile, and resolve to do better tomorrow…time well-spent, methinks!

  • Mariam Attia

    Many thanks for the comprehensive update. It is always useful to have a wider view of what everyone is up to. I am especially pleased to know that Magdalena is so close to submission and wish her all the best on her viva.