Name: Marc Gotthardt

Hometown: Essen, Germany

Extracurricular interests: Cycling, cooking, poetry and revisiting rowing skills first learnt in high school

Postgraduate degree: PhD in English

Life before Catz

“I majored in both English and Chinese at the Ruhr University of Bochum, which got me thinking about different strands of Orientalist thought in romanticism and the place of China in the history of Western philosophy. My undergraduate experiences and feeling at home in a university environment encouraged me to continue my studies after graduation. I completed a Master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh; while the programme focused on Romantic and Victorian literature, a plethora of courses on theory allowed me to keep up my philosophical interests. Given the city’s historical connections with Romanticism, and with Lord Byron in particular, Cambridge, then, was the ideal place for me to pursue a PhD.”

Life at Catz

“The Collegiate system at Cambridge is a real benefit: each College has its own distinct atmosphere and offers the chance for new arrivals to create strong bonds in addition to your connections at a Departmental level. I wouldn’t have dared to imagine the openness that I’ve enjoyed being part of the Catz community – not only in terms of the physical openness provided by the College gardens and courts, but also the friendly atmosphere and opportunities to socialise.”

Postgraduate studies

“I’m exploring Lord Byron’s poetry and the philosophy of events, an important strand of Continental philosophy, and seeking to rejoin the inheritance of Romantic thought with its point of origin. I find it fascinating that Byron was opposed to the idea of systematic philosophy: he felt one cannot do justice to the complexity of life by viewing it through a single lens. I believe there is some continuity, however, throughout all his works in terms of his notions of events, particularly where it concerns human subjectivity and agency.”

The Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme

“There are two aspects of the Programme that have supported my day-to-day studies. First, the research allowance has enabled me to get involved in the wider academic community that’s interested in Byron. I’ve already been able to attend conferences and talks hosted by the Byron Society and the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, which I can plan for more easily knowing that I can afford the registration fees and travel costs. Second, the Programme has broadened my horizons about what else is going on in academia: connecting with other Scholars at social events has enabled me to learn more about other students’ research projects and how they manage their studies – my peers never fail to inspire me!”

Advice for undergraduates thinking of applying for postgraduate studies

“Deciding on a suitable PhD project while doing your Master’s degree can mean a lot of pressure, but don’t worry if you feel you’re not ready yet. I took a year off after my Master’s to develop a high-quality proposal, which really helped me to think more clearly and to identify a subject that I could be genuinely passionate about over a number of years. Research does not always follow a linear or natural progression so give yourself an opportunity to consider your options before committing to a PhD topic.”