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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

On PhDs: Uncompleted Doctorates

On two or three occasions I registered to do a PhD (long distance), the first time with the University of London Institute of Education, the second time with the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. I carried out extensive research for the chosen topics, but my peripatetic and pressured way of life made it impossible to complete what I had started (with the most serious academic aspirations and intentions).

The first developed from my interest in cross-cultural film-training, film-making and technology, and explorations of the concepts of an international film language and cultural identity, with special reference to Africa.

My ideas changed significantly between 1971 and 1978.

This is part of what I said at a workshop in Uppsala, Sweden, in October 1974 (Film-making in developing countries, ed. Andreas Fuglesang, The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, 1975):

By 1978, my thinking was fundamentally different, and I explored the issue in much more depth in an eight-page article in Sight and Sound (British Film Institute, Spring 1979), first two pages below:

The second PhD topic related to Greece, and was concerned with Perceptions of Greece in twentieth century Anglophone literature (British, American, Canadian, Australian), focusing on four key political turning points (Occupation, Civil War, Cyprus Crisis, Military Junta). It could be more relevant today, if I extended it to cover the twenty-first century economic crisis.

Postings overseas made it almost impossible to have adequate access to supervisors or relevant libraries. In the end I did manage to make use of some of the research and material in various publications, including The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History.

I wonder what the next topic should be? At one point, when I thought I was going to be posted to Scotland, I started on an alternative film-related PhD topic on Film and the Projection of Scottish Identity (also at London University Institute of Education). At very short notice, having leased a house in West Linton, near Edinburgh, I was asked to transfer to Thessaloniki, Greece. That was that; but the research proved helpful in Stockholm many years later when I worked on the Scotland in Sweden campaign, and I could be instrumental in supporting publications like The Pocket Scottish Movie Book, by Brian Pendreigh (2002).

I also developed an informed interest in issues related to devolution and governance (below, 2002 Uppsala Seminar lead to this 2004 publication, still highly relevant!).

Most of the time, everything was out of sync- in terms of more formal academic  pursuits.
Nothing is ever wasted, it seems. Things can be recycled. I still have a folder of material for I book I once planned on Film and National Identity.
The world is none the worse for the lack of another bound PhD thesis...
but maybe you should call me "Doc"!

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