Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m Nele Pollatschek, a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Oxford, working on the Problem of Evil in European Literature, especially Victorian narrative.
This blog is the result of a simple observation: Many grad students are unhappy. Since I have long suspected happiness might be preferable to unhappiness, I decided to fight the (seemingly) inevitable hatred of my work and life.
So far my research into grad student welfare leads to the hypothesis that grad students are unhappy because they feel unable to complete the work required in the quality they expect of themselves, therefore they procrastinate profusely, develop a permanently bad conscience so that leisure time becomes work and working time is taken up by leisure time pursuits but without true enjoyment (research conducted through unstructured interviews, e.g.: me: “hey, how are you?” grad student: “Awful, I have so much work; it’s impossible. Shall we play a game of Settlers?”).
In order to counteract this pattern – a pattern that I am perpetually guilty of – I started this blog (in 2013, when I started the PhD). I use it to document my own struggle to stay on top of my work and thereby maintain overall happiness. I also use it to share the tricks and strategies I learn and warn of pitfalls. From time to time, I also document academic and non-academic productivity tools from apps and digital dingbats to test driving working protocols found in books or blogs on the topic. If you have productivity-enhancing watchamacallit which you want me to test, do drop me a line.
One thing I learned as a grad student is that all good academic writing begins with a bad pun; I therefore apologise for the title of this blog. I am sure, one day it will make a bibliographer smile. And, since some people have chosen to misunderstand, the pun consists, of course, of adding an “e” to “DPhil” (Oxford acronym for doctor philosophiae, or PhD) , thereby making me a friend (phile) of the Dphil; all untowardness is entirely unintentional (no pun intended, now get your mind out of the gutter).
Oh, and this is me, in my Oxford grad-gown glory:
Photographed by my amazing friend Martin.