A Revelatory Experience: Research Café VI

Left to right: Lois Thomas, Gemma Ahearne, Milan Darijevic

Left to right: Lois Thomas, Gemma Ahearne, Milan Darijevic

Our March Research Café was held in Aldham Robarts Library on 19th March and as always offered an interesting mix of presentations.

Milan Darijevic  (School of Engineering, Technology and Maritime Operations) – Faults in multiphase drives

Milan’s PhD research is looking at multiphase drives, with the focus on control strategies. He talked about faults in high power industrial automotive devices, beginning with a video of a fault in a tram resulting in a fire. Power drives can be under a large amount of stress due to blocking of thousands of volts and high frequency switching of several hundred amps. Milan looked at using multilevel multiphase drives to attempt to control the problems. The introduction of a reconfiguration circuit in a unit that has two supplies means it can turn off the side with the fault whilst the device is in operation is a possible solution. This allows the drive to still function but with some loss in power but avoids a major problem like the fire in the tram. Milan believes that multiphase drives are the future for high power applications as they can deal with faults.

Gemma Ahearne (School of Humanities and Social Science) – Sex Workers’ Experiences of Prison: From Punishment to Exiting?

Gemma began by speaking about stigmatization of sex workers before they are even sentenced. She said that female sex workers had lots of similarities with other female prisoners but also have their own unique issues as a result of the work they did before entering prison. Gemma talked about the Corston Report: Review of Women with Particular Vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System and the two pathways aiming to support these women – Pathway 8 – support for women who have been abused, raped or have experienced domestic violence and Pathway 9 – support for women involved in prostitution. It said that support should be provided in prison but also after prison as well. Gemma then went on to talk about the methodology of her own research, using reading groups (reading aloud) as a means for women, who have maybe never had chance to have a voice to have a voice. She will also conduct semi-structured interviews with prison staff to maybe try to unpick some of the prejudices associated with sex workers and how this may impact on any support offered. Gemma is at the very early stages of her research and is hoping to commence her fieldwork in prisons shortly. Perhaps Gemma will come back to a future Research Café and share her experiences.

Lois Thomas (School of Humanities and Social Science) – ‘Energy pent not radiant’: Catherine Carswell and the inertia of choice

Lois is looking at recurring representations of revelatory experiences in a range of fiction and non-fiction writing from the Fin de Siècle. In her talk she focused on one particular novel by the writer Catherine Carswell. This was Carswell’s first novel Open Door, published in 1920 which was very much influenced and informed by the recent Victorian past and the emerging modernist styles of the period in which it was written. Lois focused on the main character of the book, Joanna and the various points in the book where she experiences her revelatory moments but also her realization that she can keep these moments with her forever even when she “comes back to reality”. The narrative is presented like a fairy tale, an idealized image of the golden age. Lois pointed out the obsession in the 19th century with Arthurian legend and chivalry which is evident in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites. Lois showed us two versions of “Girl with butterflies” by Frances MacDonald, one from 1898 and another from early 1900s where the romantic heroine of 1898 is replaced by a more delicate creature who seems to be from another less material world. Lois likened this to Joanna in the novel but Joanna is also suspicious of false dreams. She is a discerning dreamer and always kept a touch of the practical and material about her. Joanna realizes she is both good and bad, she is restless and seeks a purpose in the world. Lois concludes that this is writing in transition, it’s traditionally Victorian in style but is beginning to move away and this confusion is evident in the novel.

If this has sparked your interest and you’d like to watch the presentations in full the video is below and why not join us at the next Research Café on 23rd April at I M Marsh campus – more details to follow soon.


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