Grad Studies: War, Citizenship, and Accessibility
Yon Ji Sol is a doctoral candidate in English literature who received Graduate Research Partnership Program support this past year to do research for her dissertation, currently titled "To Enlist or Not, for the Empire: Citizens of the British Isles and Stories of War."
I travelled to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London with the help of the GRPP. This trip provided fresh intellectual stimulus for my dissertation.
In Edinburgh I participated in the 2019 ISECS International Congress on the Enlightenment at the University of Edinburgh. My paper, part of my dissertation chapter on Sir Walter Scott, was titled “Julia’s ‘Native Air’: Soldier-Artists, the Female Critic, and the Historical Novel in Guy Mannering.” With approximately 1,500 presenters, ISECS offered me a prime opportunity to connect with scholars whose works I have read. Several of the editors and contributors of books I refer to in my dissertation were there, including the chair of my panel. Also, it was great to reconnect with Korean academia; many Korean scholars were present at the conference.
"My Sir Walter Scott chapter
deals with domestic music
making, so I was excited to
see the collection of wind
instruments at the University
of Edinburgh’s Music Museum
at St. Cecilia’s Hall."
I visited libraries and museums to conduct research on my dissertation chapters on Scott and Charles Dickens. My Scott chapter deals with domestic music making, so I was excited to see the collection of wind instruments at the University of Edinburgh’s Music Museum at St. Cecilia’s Hall. My chapter-in-progress on Bleak House engages with medical men and the Empire, so I took in the Surgeons’ Hall Museums, which combined exhibitions on historical medical figures of the Scottish Enlightenment and anatomical collection. At the Scottish National Gallery’s eighteenth-century Scottish and Dutch paintings section, I found many paintings that I came across in my research.
In London, I stayed near the British Library and then the Victoria & Albert Museum. I consulted materials from the British Library’s Rare Books, India Office Prints, Drawings and Paintings, and Maps collections. Examining paintings and drawings, I felt that much more interdisciplinary work can be done with art and material culture. This thought was strengthened at the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Luckily, various cultural festivals were taking place during my trip, including the BBC proms, a summer season of classical music concerts. Attending those events, I contemplated what I, as an English major, can contribute to enhancing accessibility to diverse cultural experiences for people in communities I belong to. Overall, the travel left me with a lot to ruminate on regarding my current and future works.