English MA graduate to study PhD in Switzerland

Master of Arts in English graduate and research assistant Emma Rayner has been awarded a prestigious Swiss National Science Foundation studentship to complete a four-year PhD at the University of Fribourg.

Emma Rayner
Emma will be based in the bilingual town of Fribourg where she will work with two leading Shakespeare scholars, Professors Indira Ghose (University of Fribourg) and Emma Depledge (University of Neuchâtel), on their research into 'Civility, Cultural Exchange, and Conduct Literature, 1500-1800'. She will also complete her own research for her PhD on a topic related to civility in literature of the English Renaissance.

The studentship includes a workshop at University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, and two extended stays at North American research libraries, including the Newberry Library in Chicago. “The position brought together so many opportunities that I knew I’d regret not applying, so with the support of my supervisor, Dr Sarah Ross, I submitted a proposal. I’m still a bit incredulous to have won and very grateful,” Emma says.

Emma completed her MA in 2018, having been awarded a scholarship to work on Dr Ross’ Marsden Fund project on women and complaint in the English Renaissance; she continued working on the project in 2019 as a research assistant. This international project gave Emma the experience of working with Dr Ross and associate investigators at the University of Reading (United Kingdom) and the University of Newcastle (Australia). It has also seen her present at conferences held in New Zealand and Australia.

“This Swiss National Science Foundation scholarship is an amazing opportunity for Emma,” says Dr Ross. “One of the Marsden Fund’s goals is to build research capacity in New Zealand; we’ve been very lucky to have been able to have her working here, doing high-quality work in early modern literary studies, and her MA and research assistant work have set her up for international success”.

Emma has already begun to experience some of this success. In 2018, she won the Lloyd Davis Memorial Prize at the Australasian Shakespeare Association conference, and in 2020, one of her pieces from her MA research will be published in the academic journal SEL Studies in English Literature 1500–1900.

“The academics at this University – especially in the English department – have been incredibly generous with their time and feedback”, says Emma. “It’s thanks to their expertise and mentorship that I feel ready for this next step. My time at Victoria really has been an education in human ideas, values, and experience, and I feel like I’m leaving with something much more valuable than just book-smarts”.