PGR stories: Dr Marilyn Mallia

Grad2014Dr Marilyn Mallia, Teaching Assistant and Lecturer in French, University of Malta

I submitted my thesis on the importance of the English Gothic novel in the early novels of 19th century French writer George Sand, under the supervision of Prof. Mary Orr (with Prof. Emma Clery as an advisor) at the end of my third year of full-time study at Southampton. My viva was a very positive experience, enabling me to engage in stimulating discussion and receive invaluable feedback. My graduation in July 2014 meant I could submit my thesis for the George Sand Memorial prize, awarded by the George Sand Association (for the best thesis submitted during the past two years), an international literary society whose purpose is to encourage and foster research and scholarship on George Sand. The jury was composed of members of the Editorial Board of the journal George Sand Studies, along with external reviewers. Their verdict was that “this thesis demonstrates a rare command of the critical literature on Sand, and constitutes a model of theoretical and methodological practice, in the choice of corpus as well as in the innovative readings of the novels, thanks to its dynamic treatment of gothic itineraries.” I was awarded the prize officially at the 20th International George Sand Association conference in Verona (29 June-1 July 2015), and it has already opened doors in terms of further publication opportunities. I am grateful that with the guidance of my supervisor, I could set the bar high in terms of academic standards, since the merit of this work was recognised publicly by the field specialists.

At the School of Modern Languages at the University of Southampton, I benefited from excellent research mentoring and regular supervision meetings, which helped me grow on an intellectual but also on a personal level. I particularly welcomed writing detailed reports of our discussions and the extensive written feedback I received on my chapter drafts which helped me chart my progress and organise my work better. I am also pleased that the interdisciplinary ethos of my supervisor and the University provided me with opportunities to develop a Digital Humanities Project as part of my thesis. With the support of sotonDH, I could visualise a complex part of one of my core chapters in new ways, thus creating an important bridge between nineteenth-century literature and modern visualisation technology.

Besides writing up and researching, I was very involved in many other aspects of postgraduate life, such as presenting at postgraduate conferences (at Southampton and UK learned societies), hosting a Study Day for the UK postgraduate consortium ‘Réseau-F’, co-editing Southampton’s Graduate School conference proceedings for the journal ‘Emergence’ and being part of the team populating the Graduate School home pages. These were valuable experiences which developed a number of important transferable skills. I also taught some French language and content classes for Modern Languages, and was a language advisor at the Language Resource Centre.

As from October 2015, I am teaching French language and culture at the University of Malta, as well as a module on French literature and cinema. I also plan to publish my thesis as a book, and have already published a number of articles, the most recent one being in a special journal issue (vol. 31) of Compar(a)ison : an International Journal of Comparative Literature on ‘Trans-national Gothic’, with another article coming up in Cahiers de George Sand. I therefore look forward to further strengthening my academic profile and sharing my passion for French with prospective University students!