Lauren de Sa Naylor
MA Cultural Studies, 2015
Please tell us a bit about yourself, and about what made you want to study Cultural Studies at Leeds.
I studied Contemporary Creative Practice at Leeds Met (now Leeds Beckett University) and had my daughter shortly afterwards. As an art student I produced work that blurred the boundary between making and theorising, and I wanted to move into a more dedicated critical practice for which the University of Leeds’ School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies is a well-known leading centre. My research in the fields of philosophy, sexualities, contemporary art/criticism/politics, psychoanalysis and myth are important registers in critical theory and signpost a certain cultural engagement that is pivotal to the MA at Leeds. I knew the course would challenge me, refine my critical skills and also cross-fertilise with my art practice.
What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
The wide range of thrilling new reading material, conducting very close textual analysis, and the opportunity to enter into intense dialogue with staff and peers on difficult subjects. I entered into the course knowing it would be transformative on many levels and I feel privileged to have had my idiosyncrasies nurtured by some extremely sensitive and engaged minds. Hi Learning new concepts and the vocabulary of new discourses, which open up spaces in which to explore ideas and to play; the playful potential of language, as well as its’ oppressiveness as a technology, has had a huge impact on what and how I write, as well as what and how I read. As an ‘older’ student I was frequently inspired and amazed by the minds of my younger peers; this was one of the many ways the course challenged me and my intellectual resistances.
What would you say about Leeds as a city?
Leeds is a compact, easily navigable city with a lot of interesting ‘fringe’ activity, such as the well-established DIY music scene. Ex-social centre Wharf Chambers and Model Gallery, I am proud to say, are run by friends of mine, and there has been a gradual shift towards more autonomous/not-for-profit/art spaces in the city.
What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?
The facilities are excellent and I spent many hours researching and writing in the lower floors of the atmospheric Brotherton Library, but I tended to work mostly in the evenings from my kitchen table at my home.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?
I received frequent invites to family events/film screenings/parties at the student’s union; I even took my daughter with me to the library from time to time!