Author: M.J.Ryder

About M.J.Ryder

Writer, academic and digital communications professional.

A return to self-publishing

I like creating things. In 2010 I self-published a book trilogy I wrote in my late teens and early twenties (2003–2007). The process was a complicated one, and beset by several major problems. In the end, I lost a lot of money, and if I’m honest, the final product didn’t look quite as good as I’d hoped.

However, a lot of time has passed since 2010, and self-publishing services have come on a long way.

For the last year or so now I’ve been toying with the idea of trying self-publishing again, to see if I can produce something I’m happier with and can be more proud of. Back in 2009 I wrote a follow-up young adult (YA) novel, that’s been sitting gathering dust for many years. I’ve re-read it several times now, and it’s certainly a lot better than my original trilogy – it’s more ‘self-contained’ and at just under 50,000 words it’s also a lot more accessible.[1]

So, dear readers, I’ve decided I’m going to embark on the self-publishing journey once more. I’ve been working especially hard recently to save up money for life after my PhD, and I’ve just about got enough to invest in a new project. Yes, it’s a risk, but ultimately I’m not in it to make money – I’d like to have something to show for all my efforts over the years and something that (if I’m lucky) people might actually read.[2] Continue reading »

Time to take higher education (and research) seriously!

I’ve been a PhD student for two years now, and in that time I’ve attended my fair share of conferences, both as a speaker, and a delegate. I’ve also organised several events of my own, including the AHRC’s postgraduate conference for the North West.

One thing that all these events have in common is they all cost a lot of money. Only last week I received an email inviting me to register for a conference and pay the £35 required for me to attend. Of course, this fee wasn’t advertised before I applied, and if I wasn’t speaking, I dare say I wouldn’t go – especially given the cost of travel and accommodation.

But £35 (plus extras) is barely scratching the surface of academic conference costs these days. The International Gothic Association is charging a whopping £180 to attend the four day event at the end of July. And that’s just the unwaged price; a full delegate can expect to pay £250 for four days, or £120 for a single day, plus a further £60 to attend the conference dinner. Continue reading »

Oliver the Justice Dog and what it means to be human

I was somewhat surprised this week to see a post on social media announcing that a dog has received a staff ID card at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU).

While I have no problem with dogs on campus, or indeed the work of Justice Support Dogs International (JSDI), I do find the fact that a dog should receive a human staff ID card somewhat unsettling. This is because it serves to further enshrine a biopolitical discourse surrounding the human and the animal, and goes to show the power of major institutions to dictate the terms on which we define what constitutes the human and the animal.

While some readers may find the news about Oliver fairly innocuous, or even quite fun, the problem is not the card itself, but what the card represents, and the border for inclusion that places a dog above those not included within the formalised university group. In this case, Oliver the dog has more rights than many human employees at the same institution, even though he is incapable of exercising the same human responsibilities that form a part of the membership contract.

In this way, Oliver the Justice Dog reveals something of the operation of power within the biopolitical state through the very act of his exclusory-inclusion within the category of the human. Continue reading »

PhD Diary: The Lancaster Award

I’ve just recently completed my submission for the Lancaster Gold Award. The Award tracks extra-curricular activities and contributions to campus life and the community, as well as work experience and other activities related to employability.

Many of you reading this will probably wonder why I decided to bother with the Lancaster Award – after all, I have loads of work experience, and am not perhaps the target market for the Award, which is mainly aimed at undergraduates who perhaps don’t have all that much on their CV. But then I thought: why not?

The more I think about it, I’m not sure I know any postgraduate, and certainly no PhD student who has completed the Lancaster Gold Award, so that in itself is a minor ‘plus’ to my CV. Sure, it may not be the be all and end all in the academic jobs market, but it does go to show my hard work and contribution to University life while I’ve been working on a full-time PhD. The fact I’ve been able to balance my PhD alongside paid work and other related activities is actually a skill in itself and is testament to what I hope makes me a highly employable academic. Continue reading »