I invite you all to pause, and raise a glass. Mark the date in your collective calenders; a red letter day that some of us (see: myself) considered a distant dream. But on the 13th January, in the Year of Our Lord MMXVI, I did submit my final coursework research article. The Heavens opened and the stars aligned as I watched the online time stamp mark the successful upload. Cue jubilant celebrations in the form of my wearily stumbling upstairs, off to my bed and sleeping for a consecutive five hours. And upon waking, wearily stumbled back downstairs to enquire whether it was morning or night.
My sarcastic comments aside, this actually was quite the day, marking as it did the first time since the Autumn Semester concluded that I was free from research and work. It was an occasion worthy of a William Wallace circa Braveheart ‘freedom’ scream. Whilst I may not have expressed my relief in such a manner, there is no denying that I welcomed the conclusion of assessment. This intense feeling of relief that comes after making deadlines and submitting assessments is one which I think many fellow students will understand.
Now, do not get me wrong, I actually came to enjoy the weeks of research and studying, pouring over numerous textbooks and printed articles, scribbling copious notes and having ‘eureka!’ moments when I found evidence to support my arguments, or when my jumbled collection of ideas and plans neatly came together in a persuasive argument. I do feel however QCAT – my university’s online library catalogue service – and myself became so closely acquainted through my many visits that we may as well have been involved in a tumultuous relationship. (A relationship which was punctuated by my seedy affairs with Jstor and HeinOnline, alas.)
Anyway, I discovered that I actually do enjoy the research/argument academic malarkey, especially when I am essentially critiquing everything via CLS. (For a self-confessed cynic such as I myself, CLS is the legal critique-equivalent of a match made in Heaven.) It was fascinating to develop my legal knowledge and understanding, and challenging perspectives to discover a new way in which to think, and to see issues differently.
Some of my reading, for example my research into HIV-influenced legislation and policy, left me feeling upset: how could the law, a supposedly neutral body, permit such marginalisation and discrimination against those in society who required its very protection from societal stigma and perpetrated myths? Another article focused on the relationship between law and politics, and I examined the cases of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Maguire Seven. Reading about the appalling miscarriages of justice was terrible; reading the obiter dicta of the trial judges, and judicial comments made upon successful overturning of convictions was simply horrifying. My parents kept reminding me that as a ‘ceasefire baby’, I have to understand what times were like during The Troubles. The political tension, the perpetual fear, the anti-Irish sentiment in mainland UK, bitter divides in NI and those horrific photographs of bombing aftermaths. I can understand this reasoning, and its influence on the judiciary during these times to seek convictions, but I cannot understand or forgive the shameful treatment of those innocent people by institutions which are supposed to prevent miscarriages of justice: the police and the judiciary/court system.
No doubt in time I will write blog posts about the above – an exercise in catharsis of sorts. However, I wanted to use this week-anniversary post as a means of sharing my coursework travails and student-Christmas experience in a different way: a photo-essay. So without further ado, allow me to present ‘Coursework Conquered‘.
- Cracker coercion.
2. Caffeine Consumption: Permitted.
3. Back to the note-taking board.
4. Christmas Presents.
5. Whose Opinion is it, Anyway?
6. Did someone say, ‘Jurisprudence’…?
7. A break from reading? Let’s…read.
8. One down, two to go.
9. With a little help from Bright Network.
10. I know how you feel, Kelman.
11. Hello Foucault, my old friend.
12. A Tale of Two Texts.
13. Two down, one to go, and the end is almost in sight.
14. If you completed coursework, and didn’t post it on Facebook, did you really complete your coursework?
16. Let’s take a break from reading by reading, Part Two.