Sebastian Averill

PhD on Mikhail Bakunin at the margins of Slavoj Žižek

What is the title and outline of your PhD project?

 'Mikhail Bakunin at the margins of Slavoj Žižek'. I have been reading a contemporary Slovenian philosopher,  Slavoj Žižek, and making the argument that Žižek's work concerns something he never talks or writes about. This has involved thinking hard about questions of epistemology. Slavoj Žižek doesn't talk or write about the Russian Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, but at the margins of Žižek's work, a concern with Bakunin can be detected.

What were you doing before you started your PhD?

I came straight into my PhD from doing two Masters degrees at the University of Warwick.

How are you finding your studies?

I am in receipt of a fully-funded scholarship from Loughborough University's Graduate School. I also supplement my income by teaching seminars in the department of Politics, History and International Relations.

What do you enjoy the most about studying a PhD with us?

The campus is beautiful, and a very stimulating place to work. There are always seminars, talks and other events happening across the university, and these are very well promoted.

Describe what it is like to study a PhD, and how this differs from undergraduate/masters study.

At Undergraduate and Masters-level, a student is working within a curriculum framework provided for them by academic staff. Whilst the amount of independent study an Undergraduate or Masters student does is always very beneficial, they are always studying in preparation for someone else's exam. At PhD level, both the exam and the curriculum is almost totally conceived by the student. This strongly differentiates it from any other type of studying.

Why did you decide to undertake a PhD in your area?

It connects directly to the kind of work that I was doing at Undergraduate and Masters-level, but is substantially more ambitious. The work I do now branches from the work that got me interested in philosophy to begin with over ten years ago, but I now find myself challenging the very assumptions that I used to hold. This is a constant pleasure.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I anticipate having the opportunity to teach my own philosophy course on a German philosopher called Martin Heidegger. I also intend to train as a psychoanalytic therapist, and write a series of non-fiction books.

If you could give one piece of advice to a future PhD student, what would it be?

Trust in the reason that you've succeeded academically before. A PhD will be hard, but your strongest card to play is almost certainly the one you hold in your hand already. Don't keep it up your sleeve. Rather, continually explore the limits of your potential by learning to be vulnerable, and learning not to be afraid of looking silly. Looking silly will be the time when you learn the most, so run full-pelt into it, rather than pretending towards knowledge or wisdom you may not have.