Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Right now, I do not feel romantic about my PhD. My research does not feel like mining for buried riches or hunting lost promises, but rather like sweatily digging the foundations for a small house that I hope to build some day. (Maybe a bungalow.)
In the first 6 months of working on my PhD I have changed my topic many times. I have written thousands of words that I will most likely not use. I have read books I will probably never need.
I have changed my mind. I have run into walls. I have tripped over my feet. If my PhD is an autobiography, it is proof that I am a work in progress. And that, I slowly realise, is ok.
Ellen Pilsworth is in the first year of her PhD at UCL. She is studying how ideas about social class play out in German public newspapers and folksongs in the period 1750–1810. Follow her on twitter @ellen8989