Whether by accident or design, you are reading the blog of Naomi Billingsley.
I am an academic specialising in art and Christianity. I am currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester.
Sometimes I wish I’d gone into food history instead, since cooking and eating are two more of my favourite things in life, but I’m content with enjoying these in my spare time (and when research and conference trips allow visits to new places). You will see that I occasionally indulge this interest here by writing amateurish posts about food traditions.
I originally started this blog while I was working on my PhD (on William Blake’s depictions of Christ at the University of Manchester) as a means of reflecting upon some of my experiences along the way. It grew to accommodate various other miscellaneous bits and bobs that were too long simply to post on twitter.
You may find some useful (or useless) information about the subjects of my research, and insights into what it’s like to be an ‘Early Career Researcher’, but it is not the primary purpose of this blog to be an authority on either of these topics (nor any other). Essentially, I’m writing because I enjoy getting ideas down on (virtual) paper, and if anyone else enjoys reading them, that’s a bonus.
This blog was previously called ‘In Tortures of Doubt and Despair’, taken from Blake’s words about Manchester (Jerusalem, Plate 21) . Whilst I didn’t agree that this was an accurate description of modern Manchester, it did speak to certain moments in the PhD process (and indeed in post-PhD research).
After finishing my PhD, I worked in a research role for the Diocese of Chichester for fifteenth months (and lived in a Palace – look up #palatialproblems if you’re interested in what that was like). When I moved to Chichester, I thought about renaming the blog with a name befitting of that locality. Indeed, Blake had words about Chichester too; the cathedral city is not far from Felpham, where Blake lived for three years, and although it’s where he was put on trial for sedition, he described it as ‘lovely mild & gentle’ (Jerusalem, Plate 36) — these words ring more true of the place than his damning assessment about Manchester. However, given that being a junior academic means needing to be mobile — as the return to Manchester has proved — in the end I decided it was simpler to use my name.
You can find out more about my research and related activities on my academia page.
I am also on twitter @NAIBillingsley
This is a personal blog and the views expressed here are my own.
Updated 29 December 2016
The cover photo is a latch in the bedroom of William Blake’s cottage in Felpham, near Bognor Regis in West Sussex, where he lived 1800-1803.