Bodies in narratives of doctoral students' learning and experience

Nick Hopwood, Julia Paulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Existing research on doctoral education documents levels of satisfaction, the difficulties students face and variations according to demographic variables. Cognitive dimensions of learning are emphasised, and calls to attend to bodies in doctoral education remain largely unheeded. This article draws on theoretical work that rejects Cartesian mind/body opposition, asking ‘in what ways do doctoral students’ bodies matter?' Thirty-three students were interviewed, and through analysis four themes identified: being with body, bodies in space, bodily practices and bodily experiences. The bodily dimensions of familiar issues, including race, gender, fatigue, and stress, are highlighted, and connections made between bodies and doctoral writing, thinking, age and the spaces in which students live and work. The themes provide new ways of understanding what it means to be and learn as a doctoral student. Taking bodies into account offers a fuller picture of how doctoral work is accomplished and the tolls this exerts on students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667
Number of pages681
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2011


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