Introducing our UK recruits!

The build up to the launch of Hidden Perspectives has been exciting for all involved and we are eagerly anticipating the launch event next Thursday – hope to see you there! Our partner project in Sheffield has been working closely with us and we are delighted to have Jo Henderson-Merrygold, a member of the Sheffield project, here in New Zealand with us at the moment. We have also been fortunate enough to have two MA student interns from the UK working with us alongside their studies. Melanie Smiley and Rachel Davies are currently managing our website and social media.

So let’s meet them:

Hello! Tell us about yourself…who are you and what do you do?

Rachel: Hello! I’m Rachel Davies and I’m an MA English Literature Student at The University of Sheffield. I completed my undergraduate degree at Sheffield this summer Rach photo HPand, as I loved my time in the City as well as in the School of English so much, I have decided to stay on to complete my Masters. I am interested in revealing ‘hidden’ narratives in Literature and have pursued this line of interest since the start of my time at University. So far in my MA I have continued to explore this area in my assessments and so working with Hidden Perspectives New Zealand has given me the chance to broaden this research even further. My first undergraduate essay discussed allegorical homosexuality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and my last undergraduate essay explored the hidden homosexual narratives in Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier alongside Katherine Mansfield’s At the Bay and Bliss. My work has so far explored ‘hidden’ narratives in a multitude of genres and periods and for my MA I am focusing on researching these narratives more specifically within the Hellenistic era.

Mel: Hello! I’m Mel and I’m studying an MA in English Literature with the hopes of getting into publishing somewhere down the line (probably after I’ve managed to get the travelling bug out of my system). It’s my fourth year here in Sheffield in the UK, as I completed my BA in Language and Literature with the University in 2016. I’m really excited to be working with Hidden Perspectives and to be a part of bringing the arts out of the closet! My main interest is in looking at the way literature has been used as a tool to portray trauma.

How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives? Tell us about your internship.

Mel: Work experience is a key part of landing a job with any publishmel photo HPing company and so I was keen to take part in the work placement module on offer with the Sheffield MA programme. Hidden Perspectives stood out to me because the workload included event organising, writing and editing articles, website management and the opportunity to get involved with the new Hidden Perspectives’ launch in New Zealand. Experience in these areas is invaluable, particularly with how competitive publishing can be. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity and to be able to take part in setting up a brand new venture for Hidden Perspectives abroad. However, I was somewhat disappointed this opportunity didn’t involve an all expenses paid trip to New Zealand…

Rachel: As part of the MA programme this year we were able to select a work placement module for the second semester. We were given a plethora of options and asked to defend our first choice in a 200 word statement. I consider myself very lucky as Hidden Perspectives was my first choice. I’m very excited to be able to take part in a placement which not only provides me with the chance to continue my academic research but also gives me invaluable work experience. During my internship, I am hoping that Mel and I will be able to successfully set up and manage both the Hidden Perspectives’ blog and Social media and also manage events for the UK project.

What else are you working on at the moment? What are your hopes after your MA and this internship?

Rachel: During my first term I have taken two modules – ‘The Analysis of Film’ and ‘Love, Death & Destiny: The Ancient Novel’. For ‘The Analysis of Film’, I analysed how the contemporary romantic-comedy (500) Days of Summer subverts the conventions of Classicism by looking at how gender is constructed and portrayed in the film. For ‘Love, Death & Destiny’, I investigated why homosexuality is a marginalised narrative within Hellenistic novels and focused on Longus’s work Daphnis and Chloe. I am hoping to continue working with Ancient Greek Literature for my Dissertation and I am thinking of applying for my PhD within the next few years to continue interrogating homosexuality in the ancient novels.  

Mel: I have recently completed a module called Confession where I have explored different literary forms of confession throughout history, beginning with St. Augustine. I had an assessment at the end of this where I decided to study the diaries of Anne Lister and explore how they have shaped the discourse of lesbian history. The diaries were written in the nineteenth century and explore Lister’s sexual identity as a lesbian in explicit detail. Her diaries have had a massive impact on studies into female sexuality and gender and have been an invaluable resource for lesbian history today. After researching such a powerful female figure and seeing how far the discovery of her sexuality went towards discrediting the once common belief that lesbianism didn’t exist at this time, it is easy to see how important it is that we bring more pieces of art out of the closet and away from the normative gaze. I think uncovering these lost narratives and challenging a history that only caters to one identity is crucial and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Rachel, what interests you about Hidden Perspectives in New Zealand?

I think Hidden Perspectives’ research is incredibly important and its platform provides a voice for challenging the norm. The NZ branch of the project is very relevant to my research interests in that it looks at bringing the ‘arts and humanities’ out of the closet. It is important that students feel as though they have a safe space to discuss issues of sexuality, gender, class and race, which is what this project specifically aims to do. Working on Hidden Perspectives New Zealand is going to be an exciting venture for me and will hopefully improve my skills in social media and networking.

Mel, what are your hopes for the future of Hidden Perspectives?

My current hopes for the future of Hidden Perspectives are that me and Rachel are helpful additions to the team and manage to run things smoothly! Aside from this however, I hope it continues to build in strength and picks up an even larger following online, in Sheffield and with the new team in New Zealand.

I’m very grateful for this opportunity and thank you for having me!

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