Summer Updates for Us All

By Ghada
How did it get so late so soon? It's night before its afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
Dr. Seuss

Time is indeed flewning! Easter term is officially over; things are winding down at the Faculty as well. There are no scheduled seminars, book club meetings, or supervisions. I must say though that we are lucky to have supervisors who are always available even if they might be deep in the Amazon,like Maria just was. The end of term downtime means we have more time to: do/edit/research/read/start/review/write. So this is where we will be and what we will be doing until term starts again in October.


I am in Kuwait and it is scorching (it hits 50° C too often during the summer). PhD-wise, I am at that stage where the end is in sight (my last year) and the panic/excitement is at an all time high. Obviously, writing up is taking up most of my day. My boys are off school so I am also doing the summer camp run (thank goodness for those few hours). Ashley who is chairing the book club has given us a ‘recommended reading list’ and so I have started with the one we will be discussing in our first meet next term: The Hunger Games. As for relaxation, as a family we are taking mini-weekend trips. We are off to Dubai next week. We are also hoping to spend a few days in Sharm El Sheikh or the Dead Sea (I have not been to either) sometime in August. In September I will be going to the University of Tübingen with Clementine and Erin for a PhD Workshop where will be presenting.


Having had rather a lot of my first PhD year taken up with teaching, organising the Centre Open Day, planning a conference, setting up various websites and working part-time on a poetry-teaching research project, I’m now retreating to the cool tranquility of my study to make up some ground in my own doctoral research project on children’s poetry – initially by delving still deeper into poetics (cognitive and regular) and theories of imagination. I’ll then be getting some initial ideas shaped up into a couple of conference papers and articles. For a displacement activity, there’s the mass of data from the poetry-teaching project interviews awaiting analysis.

All this against the background of the Cambridge summer concerts, outdoor theatre, excursions by and on the river, tending the garden, and catching up on reading actual children’s books under the apple trees in the literarily auspicious Grantchester Orchard tea garden. Admittedly that last one is a perennial summer aspiration, a fine objective not yet ever achieved; but maybe this will be the year.


This summer I am staying in Cambridge for the whole of July and then spending August in the North of France in our family house from which the white cliffs of Dover can be seen. Boring!

However, I will also be working on my PhD upgrade paper.

Right now I am touring the wonderful castles (Cheverny chateau, Chambord chateau) of the Loire River in France.


My work plans:

I am working on my registration viva from here in Cambridge. I hope to submit by the end of August. I am also preparing my conference paper/presentation for Germany. I am hopefully submitting an abstract for IBBY 2012 conference on migration, being held in London. I am also working as part of a research project at the faculty (with Maria, Dominic and Gabrielle). We are looking at what ke

y texts teachers are reading with their KS3 English students.

On the side:

I will be going home (to Canada) in September for two weeks to see my family/ enjoy the cottage/ meet my new golden retriever puppy. I And… catching up on some reading- need to find my corpus for the PhD, so I will be reading lots of Canadian, place-based YA fiction!


Well, what am I up over the long vacation? To be truthful, the break will not be that noticeable for me, as being part-time my days are usually spent balancing my work and family commitments anyway (which is largely how my summer looks right now). In terms of work, I am still bashing out the methodology of my PhD study (and trying to convince the world of its worth, as usual). Added to that I am beginning to draft out a paper for the Child and the Book conference (probably focusing on the need to put the readers back into reader response theory - though this may yet change!).

Added to that mix is some work compering at Cambridge Big Weekend and at the Cambridge Folk Festival, alongside my usual work for the Acoustic Routes music venue. My biggest task will be occupying my children during the long break from playgroup and toddler groups however - hopefully the weather will be kind to us and we can have lots of days out to accompany our planned holiday to Dorset. A mundane existence by some people's standards, but more than enough to keep me on my toes 'til term restarts!


What I plan to do this summer is work on my research tools, meet with people in preparation for my study, enjoy some sun, friends and family in Lebanon. However what will actually happen is I will be swamped with family duties and hard to dodge questions about my love life. I will spend most of my time stuck in traffic and I will work for weeks to set up meetings with people for my research and withstand a few no shows and last minute cancellations before I end up camping out in front of a few office doors and waiting for the unsuspecting principal/publisher to step out for lunch before I can make a new best friend. I will also probably be dealing with a nasty sunburn and face the fact that almost everyone I know has left the country!

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