Lily Dessau

Doctoral Student, University of Geneva - Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva, Switzerland

As a doctoral student, I am so early into an academic career that I worry the decisions I am making to fly less (hopefully, soon, not at all) will impact my career as I close myself off from international networks and other academics. In particular, being a student of English Literature in a non-anglophone country (as fantastically multilingual as it is!), the community of academics in my field is very small in the immediate vicinity. I have vowed (to myself) not to take a long-haul flight to attend a conference, but in doing so I am forgoing the ‘opportunity’ to meet with others working in the area I research. This might not be as stifling to a more senior academic, someone who has already fostered these connections and might have more persuasion to move discussions and collaborations onto other platforms (i.e. online) to reduce the need for flying. And whereas I think my research will survive, I worry for my post-PhD prospects as I will not have ‘put myself out there’ in a meaningful way and will be lacking in conference experience and potential collaborations in research groups or writing/editorial opportunities.

As I have moved to Switzerland from the UK, I have conceded to traveling by plane to visit my family (hence why I specify ‘long-haul’ above). To try and turn this into a positive, I do combine visiting my family with participation in UK-based academic events, so as to widen my pool. I know there is a selfishness to this, but I live according to a low-impact ecological lifestyle, and as a graduate student I know I have time to adjust this even more so, according to the principles of leading a low-carbon and low-waste professional and personal life.

My early interests in Romantic poetry and prose focused on the intersection with philosophy, and my research is now geared towards a re-reading of late Romanticism in light of recent ecological and environmental criticism, in particular John Clare and non-human labour and work.