Women at work and a dog at home

January 26, 2007

Name: William Hughes

Age: 42

Job: Professor of Gothic studies at Bath Spa University. I arrived as a pallid, part-time temporary lecturer in 1993 and have been troubling students with supernatural fictions ever since. I'm also the editor of Gothic Studies.

Salary: Not enough to be able to afford reasonable accommodation in Bath - I relocated to bucolic Wiltshire six years ago.

Education: BA, MA and PhD from the University of East Anglia, where I managed to pursue a somewhat obsessive interest in the Gothic. I also did a PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church University in the 1980s.

Working hours and conditions: I've not worked less than a ten-hour day since I was a PhD student in the early 1990s. Sharing an office means you have to work flexibly. Much of my administration, and all my research, is undertaken at home.

Number of students you teach: I co-ordinate the compulsory first-semester module for first-year undergraduates, which involves 11 tutors in Bath, Swindon and Bridgwater and about 200 undergraduates. My two Gothic modules can run up to two or three groups apiece. I also contribute to the MRes programme at Bath Spa, supervise two PhD candidates and act as admissions tutor for PhD candidates in English.

Biggest bugbear this year: I was away from the university for a couple of months after surgery in the summer. This disrupted the delivery deadlines for two research projects.

How you solved it: I renegotiated the deadlines rather than struggling on.

Worst moment in university life: The day a student informed me that Noah's Ark was one of Aesop's Fables.

What's your office like? On campus: still lavishly decorated with winsome, Pre-Raphaelite women - keen readers of this column will, of course, be aware that this is not my office's first mention here (Campus Questionnaire, October , 2006). At home: spacious, booklined, fire and candlelit, with a pipe rack and an (occupied) dog basket.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with and how do you cope with them? The stubborn minority in academia who still refuse to believe that creditable research can come out of former polytechnics and colleges. Let the research, whether published or delivered at conferences, speak for itself.

Do you interact with other parts of the university? I enjoy the company of many of the university's historians.

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