Connecting with fellow DECRA researchers inspires literary studies network

Posted by | July 09, 2021 | Humanities, Research | No Comments

Dr Valentina Gosetti, Senior lecturer at UNE and ARC DECRA fellow, has recently founded the Literary Studies DECRA Fellows Network alongside three other academics from across Australia. This group of passionate DECRA fellows also includes Dr Christina Spittel of the University of New South Wales, Dr Miranda Stanyon of the University of Melbourne and Dr Tully Barnett of Flinders University.

The Literary Studies DECRA Fellows Network began when Dr Gosetti had a spark of inspiration to connect the DECRA fellows whose research focused on literary studies. Searching through public grant databases she was able to contact the other literary studies DECRA academics from across Australia. After each member responded with enthusiasm at the prospect, Dr Gosetti began the process of creating the network.

Joining together as a group allowed Dr Gosetti and her fellow academics to more easily provide support to one another through their shared discipline, however in establishing the network these academics have decided to do far more than just peer-support. With the recent creation of the network, its members have committed to providing mentorship to future DECRA applicants in the field of literary studies. Using their shared wealth of knowledge to, as Dr Gosetti puts it, “spread the love” and “encourage as many people as possible to give it a shot”.

For those who might not know, DECRA is the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award through which the Australian Research Council (ARC) provides funding to early career researchers in various disciplines across Australia.

While discussing this new network Dr Gosetti was excited for her and the other DECRA fellows to share their knowledge by assisting future DECRA fellows secure funding.

“Since the DECRA is becoming more and more competitive we thought that it would be a good idea to provide a helping hand to those out there who need it”, said Dr Gosetti. “Already on a personal level, people were contacting us individually for help and for mentorship. That is one of the purposes of it… to help out other people”.

Beyond just mentorship the network will also provide peer-support which has become far more important during a time of lockdown.

“Another idea is to provide a platform for peer support to basically support each other in implementing the plans that we have, especially with many of us being impacted by the travel ban and not being able to do our field research abroad.”

While the network is quite new there are activities outside of peer-support and mentorship already being considered. Furthering the idea of supporting one another’s research goals, the network is hoping to facilitate a seminar series in which the members and those associated with the network can present their research in a more informal presentation manner, for example through ten minute explanations on their current research. The newly founded UNE Literary Worlds Research Group headed by Dr Giulia Torello-Hill, would be the perfect platform for such showcase.  The hope for these seminars is that they will be an accessible way to showcase the strengths of ARC research in literary studies to a broad audience, beyond just academics. Moreover, Dr Gosetti also noted that sometime “along the line and in future years, when we have the results of some of our research, we can actually start having more talks for academic audiences and showing our results” as part of the network’s activities.

Dr Gosetti has a strong passion for the field of literary studies, and her drive to mentor and help other early career academics in this space is no coincidence. When discussing what the network, and literary studies in general, mean for her Valentina spoke about how literature has been a positive force in her personal and academic life.

“Literature changed my life and as I studied it more and more I realised that in different ways literature has changed so many people’s lives. For me poetry in particular. It helps us go through life, it is not just a tangential thing. It is something we carry with us. So that is why it is important for me personally.”

“Academically it is because I am interested in people who, not just in our time but throughout history, have dealt with this and how they expressed their own humanity through literature. That is what I want to investigate. My current project is in the making of a nation, so my leading question is ‘What has poetry to do with nation building’.”

An important aim of the network is to promote literary studies, which includes the academic research happening in this field. The project that Dr Gosetti mentioned here is a fantastic example. Dr Gosetti’s DECRA project aims to rediscover, document and discuss the power of poetry in constructing a national identity in nineteenth-century France. Among this project’s many aims is to show the power of literature in a political and cultural sense, which is applicable to more than just nineteenth-century France.

“True national identity is a mosaic of different cultures and minority languages, all as important as one another,” Valentina says. “By considering the important role of the French poets in shaping an inclusive society, I would like to encourage Australians to revalue their own regional and rural cultural heritage, to ultimately bridge that divide.”

It will be exciting to watch the growth of both Dr Gosetti’s DECRA project and the network as they continue to bloom.

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