Meet the editors!

Hello! We are Ed, Jack, Alice and Megan, and we are the new editors of the Landscape Surgery blog. As a team, we are all very excited to be taking over this role from Nina and (the other) Ed who did such a great job of curating the site last year. For us, ‘Landscape Surgery’ (which is now 22 years old!) has always been a great opportunity to bring together all members of the Social, Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group in our bi-weekly meetings. In the fantastic company of our groups ‘surgeons’, we have timely and critical conversations on a wide variety of subjects, reflecting the huge array of academic interests displayed by the research group as a whole. As an editing team, we are eager to continue to dissect ‘Landscape Surgery’ discussions within this informative blog, as well as highlighting the exciting things that members of the research group have been getting up to; from academic conferences, new publications, interdisciplinary workshops and public events.

We actively welcome submissions from all ‘surgeons’ who wish to use this blog as a way to start a conversation, showcase an event, discuss general PhD life, give post-doc and career advice, or to talk about some stimulating research you’ve done. So, if you’ve been up to something interesting, why not write a blog about it?

If you would like to submit a post, or have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at: Ed.armston-sheret.2017@live.rhul.ac.uk, megan.harvey.2014@live.rhul.ac.uk, jack.lowe.2017@live.rhul.ac.uk, alice.reynolds.2013@rhul.ac.uk.

Ed Armston-Sheret

Ed Armston-Sheret.jpg

What are your current research interests?

My research looks at British explorers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am particularly interested in how explorers prepared, used, and represented their bodies and the relationship between these issues and their public and scientific reputations. In looking at these issues, I explore the importance of bodies within scientific practice, geographical fieldwork, and ideas of heroism in the Victorian and Edwardian period.

What do you do outside academia?

Outside of academia, I enjoy doing things that get me away from books, screens, and writing. I particularly enjoy cooking and cycling. I’ve also got into foraging for fruit which I use to make my own jams and chutneys.

What is your favourite song to work too?

I’ve become less and less able to listen to music while I work. I used to do it a lot but often found I ended up typing the lyrics into what I was writing!

What is your favourite book?

C.L.R James’ The Black Jacobins is probably top of my list at the moment. It’s really hard to do this account of the Haitian Revolution justice; it’s well written, impassioned, and I found it almost impossible to put down.

Megan Harvey

Megan Harvey

What are your current research interests?

I’m currently really interested in better understanding the economic and cultural geographies around sleeping and dreaming. My PhD project will think quite explicitly about neoliberal capitalism and its latent desire to harness the micro-spaces and temporalities of sleep. This will include a focus on the practices of night-time businesses, the embodied geographies of commodified sleep technologies and a close examination of subconscious ‘dream space’ to assess the degree of capitalism’s impingement. I also enjoy crafting new cultural geographic research techniques for querying sleeping and dreaming, from a ‘Nocturnal Methodological Praxis’ that explored insomnia and nocturnality within the city, to a ‘Dream Tool-Kit’ that utilised dream journaling and sleep diaries to interpret slumber experiences.

What do you do outside academia?

I think that a work/life balance is really important, so I like to spend my down time doing as much as possible with my family and friends. We like to watch films, play video and board games and cook together. I also play women’s rugby twice a week for Royal Holloway’s university team, which is a great stress reliever!

What is your favourite song to work too?

I love to listen to film and television scores as I work, anything by Hans Zimmer and Ramin Djawadi are usually on my playlist. I recently found the soundtrack to Black Mirrors ‘San Junipero’ by Clint Mansell, it is incredibly reminiscent of the fantastic episode and has been on repeat for a while!

What is your favourite book?

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier has long been one of my favourite books, it’s a gloomy and gothic thriller that was later turned into one of my favourite films by Alfred Hitchcock. I also love A Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood and Hot Milk by Deborah Levy.

Jack Lowe

Jack Lowe.jpg

What are your current research interests?

I’m a cultural geographer whose research engages with various forms of digital media art to investigate the processes through which places become meaningful. My practice-based PhD project, supervised between Geography and Media Arts, will involve making a mixed-reality game in my home city of Canterbury, as a method of understanding this medium’s potential to enable people to tell, and learn about, the stories that make places meaningful. I also have a longstanding interest in the cultural geographies of video game environments; in particular how a sense of place can be crafted in these (semi-)virtual landscapes. In this regard, I’m keen to explore further how post-phenomenology might provide theoretical frameworks through which we can apprehend the relationships between different kinds of materials, technologies, bodies and social contexts in the production of game-playing experiences.

What do you do outside academia?

I’m a big fan of video games, particularly ‘walking simulators’ and other story-based titles. I love walking in physical environments as well as virtual ones; and even though it’s becoming part of my research, I still like to go Geocaching (often with my sister and 7-year-old nephew) to explore new places. I also play piano and guitar, and very occasionally compose some classical stuff; it’s all demos at this stage though. Reading and creative writing are both activities I like to do for pleasure outside academia too.

What is your favourite song to work to?

I listen to albums rather than individual songs while working, and this tends to be classical music. I adore Jessica Curry’s soundtrack to the video game Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which wonderfully captures the spirit of bucolic rural England. I also love working to the music of Olafur Arnalds, Zoe Keating, and most recently Evan Call’s Automemories, the moving and eclectic orchestral score to the anime Violet Evergarden.

What is your favourite book?

I’m going to go for The Orchid Trilogy by Jocelyn Brooke, an author who lived in my home area of rural Kent. It’s a set of three semi-autobiographical novels that tell stories from different parts of Brooke’s life, from his childhood growing up in east Kent during WW1 all the way up to serving in the army during WW2. It paints a melancholy but enchanting picture of a sensitive man, whose passion for the mystical rural landscapes of his childhood, and seeking rare orchids, embodies the distance he experienced from the rest of ‘normal’ society; in particular its ‘desirable’ traits of masculinity.

What made reading The Orchid Trilogy extra magical for me was having my local Ordnance Survey maps next to me. Following in his footsteps this way added another layer of significance to the familiar landscapes of my own upbringing.

Alice Reynolds

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What are your current research interests?

I am really interested in the marketisation of Higher Education, both within the UK and globally, and the Student-Consumer debate. My current research, supervised between Geography and Law, focuses upon a study of student housing in Dublin, where I am aim to advance student geographies by utilising a social harm perspective to explore the experiences of students within Dublin’s housing crisis. The research aims to advance the burgeoning field of zemiology, placing students at the heart of the research, and in doing so arguing for a social harm approach within geographical studies.

What do you do outside academia?

I have a big family and enjoy spending my free time visiting them out in the country. My guilty pleasure is watching anything to do with crime and the police and I’ve probably watched every Police Interceptors episode ever made…

What is your favourite song to work to?

I love Irish music and find it motivates me when I’m working. I love listening to Lord of the Dance whilst secretly wishing I was an Irish dancer!

What is your favourite book?

I really enjoyed reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, later adapted into a film in 2013. The book follows the story of Liesel, a nine-year-old German girl given up by her mother to live with foster parents in the small town of Molching in 1939, shortly before World War II. The strong relationships Liesel creates with characters throughout the book create a strong contrast against a backdrop of hate.

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