North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP)

A blog for students funded by a cross institutional scheme through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to train a new generation of skilled researchers. Offering postgraduate studentships and training across the full range of the AHRC’s disciplines. All views are those of students and are not necessarily those of the NWCDTP.

3 Minute Thesis: My 3 attempts with 3 different audiences (Pete Kalu)


Ex British Prime Minister Tony Blair had a way with soundbites. His “the people’s princess” comment upon Princess Diana’s death in 1997 was in my view the 90’s best soundbite. President Donald Trump seems most at ease communicating in  140 character tweets.  “Fake News!” anyone? Comedians from Dorothy Parker to Groucho Marx have crafted razor-edged short statements. Pity us mere PhD students then, asked to shoehorn our mounds of reading, theorizing and writing into a 60 (or more often 180) second thimble.

My own research is on black characters in crime fiction. I’ve made several attempts at recording summaries, before different audiences. For better or worse, I decided quickly to ditch all references to scholars and theories which people outside my field of research might not have knowledge of. Out went Bourdieu. Critical Race Theory. Narrative Theory. Homi Bhabha. Todorov.  Paul Gilroy. Out went most isms. Post modernism. Deconstructionism. Structuralism. Post Colonialism. Out went some of the favorite buzz words of critical commentators: Ontology. Hermeneutics. Interpellation. Instead I tried to use plain language as much as possible without over-simplifying the research. I usually failed, tying myself up in knots not knowing whether to explain a concept further, avoid it altogether or simplify and so misrepresent it. But on each new attempt, to paraphrase the playwright, Samuel Beckett, I failed better! Here are a few attempts. The audiences are:   (1) My friend, the poet, Joy France. (2) My 13 yo daughter. And (3) a recent NWCDTP gathering.

PS. The Lancaster University Postgraduate Research Conference is taking place on 6th May 2017 and seeks participants from its students in its 3 Minute Thesis competition. More via this link   There are other invitations to participate. The format originated at The University of Queensland, Australia and has spread across the globe.


1.In conversation with poet, Joy France. 1 minute.



2. To my daughter (with a random digression into potatoes) 1 minute.

3 At an NWCDTP gathering. 2 minutes.



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This entry was posted on March 19, 2017 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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