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Featured Member Profile: Ashleigh Watson

Hello TASA Postgrads!

Today we are kicking off our featured member profiles, where we get to learn a little bit more about one of our postgrad members. This is a great way to get your face out there and contribute to our postgrad community in a (relatively) painless fashion. If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions (I know you’ve got it in you!) send us an email at postgraduates@tasa.org.au.

Without further delay, our featured member of the day is Ashleigh Watson aka our very hard working Postgraduate Coordinator. Take it away Ashleigh!

Member: Ashleigh Watson

What are you researching?

I research the sociological imagination. It’s such a central concept to the discipline today but there isn’t a huge amount of ‘deep’ engagement with it. I’m interested in how we understand this imagination, how we cultivate it in ourselves and others, and what it means for doing sociological research – especially research that might defy our inside/outside academia obsession and be able to make important contributions to both disciplinary and public spheres. My PhD project has involved writing a sociological novel that enlivens the sociological imagination in a narrative, in order to make sociological thinking more visible/engaging and show what fiction writing can bring to sociological analysis.

What drew you to this topic?

I studied both sociology and creative writing an as undergrad so I’d already worked with the two fields for a while, and I’ve always been a big reader. I love the rich immersion you get with literature that’s different to other mediums. And I do get frustrated that almost no one gets what sociology is outside our own discipline – I think an important step to changing that isn’t just focusing on making our research results more public but trying to connect people with what thinking sociologically means. Creative methods are really exciting to me because they get at parts of our social lives that other methods struggle to.

What have been the highlights of your post graduate journey?

I’m currently on an six month Endeavour Research Fellowship at Goldsmiths in London. This is definitely the highlight. London is an amazing city and Goldsmiths is a brilliant institution to do research at.

What do you wish you had known before you started?

How big and strange the process is. It’s often surreal. I don’t know if this is something you can learn without going through the experience though. The project is such a huge commitment and at times can feel like it’s taking over your life, but it’s also the most amazing thing. At the beginning I wish I knew to relax and enjoy it more.

What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting post graduate study?

Do your homework on your institution so you know what to expect and what facilities/funding are available to you. Join a research center. Attend events. Make PhD friends. A successful PhD completion takes a village.

What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?

I read and run and watch a lot of films. I’m currently reading John Berger’s To The Wedding and just saw The Handmaiden.

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