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Victoria Cann MA Eighteenth Century Studies

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Hi I am Victoria Cann studying MA Eighteenth Century Studies.

I had heard about the MA in 18th Century Studies and about the ties the university has with Chawton Library, which offered excellent research resources and an exciting opportunity to find a more tangible link with this period

What made you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I was drawn to the university because of the uniqueness of the course it offered. There did not seem to be many others which offered such a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to eighteenth-century culture at large.

What were you anxious about before coming to Southampton, and once here were these fears overcome?

I was a bit anxious about starting at Southampton, partly because I was completely unfamiliar with it as both a campus and a city, and partly because I was returning to studying five years after graduating and had been well apart from academia for what seemed a long time. Fortunately many of my coursemates attended Southampton as undergraduates and clearly loved their time here. They have been very welcoming and helpful in orientating me around campus and sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. Admissions and Faculty staff have also helped with induction material and general support in getting back into the ways of studying. The steady flow of communication about talks, field trips and postgraduate events, has also made me feel welcomed and included within the university and its student community.

What is it like studying here?

The campus is very friendly and there is always someone on hand to help you. Teaching staff are supportive and always prepared to respond to an enquiry or make time for you to see them. The facilities are diverse, especially with the addition of Avenue Campus and the subject-specific library there. The collections have been well-explained and made usefully accessible, and the regular trips to Chawton and opportunities to participate in research events are a brilliant bonus.

How do you rate study facilities at the University, such as the Library?

The library is very useful and the study spaces are comfortable and diverse, suiting whatever type of study you chose; be it group study, quiet study or computer-based research. The library content is very broad and if materials are not immediately available it is useful to have recourse to the Avenue Campus library or inter-library loan system.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences) so far?

So far, my highlights have included my first seminar discussing and reading about the bizarre and hilarious antics of the eighteenth-century masked ball, a trip to Chawton House library to explore the collections and handle original eighteenth-century books, and the opportunity to accompany an undergraduate group of history students to the National Maritime Museum to find out first-hand about imperial trade and curatorial practices.

What other activities have you taken advantage of while at University?

I have taken every opportunity to attend events at Chawton House Library, including a music recital and study day on transatlantic landscape gardens. I have also attended some really interesting talks on campus outside my field of study which have allowed me to meet new people and discuss new ideas.
Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research-led learning during your course? How did this help you grow academically or personally?
I have had the opportunity to participate in research seminars as part of my course. These have been incredibly helpful as a theoretical insight and practical training which has helped me to better understand the processes of academic research generally as well as enhancing my own approach to research and study individually. 

What are you enjoying most about your course?

I really enjoy how varied and eclectic my course is in both approach and subject matter. I love the way it combines methods of study and topics of discussion which I previously thought were incompatible, like art, politics and economics, and shows how they blend together to create a whole fascinating culture that can be viewed in a variety of fascinating ways.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how do you think they are adding to your experience / will affect your future plans?

The nature of my course demands a multidisciplinary approach and the core modules so far have included exploring areas of history, art history, politics and cultural studies that I am not familiar with which has been very exciting and enlightening. There are opportunities to study other non-literature related modules separately and I am hoping to embark on these in my second year. My original intention in pursuing this course of study was to train for further research and maybe a PHD in literature, but this MA has encouraged me to broaden my interests and possibly alter my specialism. It has also given me an interest in teaching.

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities have you undertaken and how have they enhanced your undergraduate experience?

Employment and work experience have centred on museums, exhibitions and libraries, which helped give me a good grounding in the relevant areas of scholastic study, historical interpretation, and collections management. I think these have enhanced my research abilities, time management skills and basic understanding of eighteenth-century history and how it is presented to a wider audience, all of which informed my undergraduate course and continues to help me at postgraduate level.

Do you have any idea of what you would like to do in the future? Have the opportunities you have taken up while at the University helped you have a clearer idea of what you might like to do?

I think I would like to study for a PHD and pursue a career in research and teaching. My participation in various research classes, study events and extracurricular seminars have reinforced this objective by showing me how academic research and teaching is conducted at this level and how many opportunities for development and engagement there are within this field. It has also helped me think seriously about what steps to take to achieve this goal.

What advice would you offer to potential students?

Engage with as much university life as you can; be it in talks that interest you, new places suggested to you or new opportunities to take part in, course-related or otherwise. Immersing yourself in the experience of undergraduate living, both social and academic, is the only way to fully get to grips with the university as a place and as an asset to help you discover what it is you like, what you might want to do next, and how best to do it. Also, do not be afraid to ask for advice – the people you meet here are always willing to help.  

Do you like living in Southampton?

Although I do not live in Southampton, I have seen enough of the city to appreciate that it is an exciting, varied place with a lot of opportunities for exploring its history and cultural background, especially in relation to the eighteenth century. The city is lively and fun for student living and also feels very safe and student-friendly.


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