Ting Fang Yeh is an international student. She studied MRes Children's Literature from 2019-2020 and started her PhD in January 2021.
Choosing to study a master's at the University
"The reason that I chose to study at Reading is due to its international reputation for researching Children's Literature with experts and critics, such as Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, Dr Neil Cocks, and Dr Sue Walsh.
"The courses excited me a lot to engage intensively and extensively with a variety of fantastic and challenging texts across Children's Literature criticism, Fairy tale, 19th and 20th-century Children's Literature, American Children's Literature, postcolonial Children's Literature, popular forms of Children's Literature, and Children's film and radio.
"Apart from this, the Children's Collection (1617 to date) in the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading also offered precious resources for me to explore different research areas broadly, such as children's magazines, toy books, picture books, school stories, children's poetry, or Ladybird's collections etc. I did highly appreciate to have this chance to invest my time and strength to study at Reading as the preparation for my future career."
Deciding where to study a PhD
Ting-Fang made her decision to study a PhD at Reading based on three members of staff and her experience on the MRes:
"Karin's inspiring encouragement for students throughout MRes courses to me is unforgettable. What I have learnt from her is that doing a PhD is not about how much knowledge or intelligence that a person has, but it is much more about the process of reading and learning themselves…. Studying for a PhD in the English Department offers me a breathable space and a warm supportive environment to develop my wide research interests and academic skills.
"Secondly, I would like to mention Dr Neil Cocks. Neil's great enthusiasm and excitement for teaching and doing research inspires me to continue my study at Reading with him, as my main PhD supervisor. Neil's constructive and nuanced advice throughout my MRes study always helps me develop further my skills of close analysis and critical thinking.
"Thirdly, Dr Sue Walsh in my MRes study stimulates my interests in a wide range of issues in children's texts, such as the ideas of language, dialect, identity, animals, fantasy, irony, themes and so forth. These stimuli enlarge my thoughts and equip me to do my research independently."
Inspiration from learning new skills
Looking back, Ting-Fang describes how her master's study inspired her and gave her confidence:
"The most inspiring thing for me is to learn how to read and engage with the texts closely which opens up different facets of important issues and discussions that I never thought of before. Because of gaining this critical reading skill, I have more confidence to step on the new journey of doing a PhD in the field of Children's Literature. I never regret to make this decision to come abroad to study MRes Children's Literature at Reading, as part of my life experience. The staff and courses in MRes Children's Literature have extensively supported and trained me to develop my research skills further."
Creative seminars and thinking outside of the box
Ting-Fang explains what she enjoyed most from her studies at Reading:
"I enjoyed pretty much every seminar taught by our passionate, enthusiastic, and supportive staff. In each seminar, I did immerse myself a lot in every discussion of theories, translations, readership, authorship, fairy tales, storytelling, images and texts, school stories, education, children's films and so forth.
"It was like going on an intriguing adventure or a treasure hunt to explore the implications behind the texts.
"I appreciated a lot the way of thinking outside the box in MRes courses, in that more interesting and challenging research questions can be discovered beyond that fixed box."
Studying under a pandemic
COVID-19 impacted all of our lives in 2020 but, as Ting-Fang explains, teaching and support at Reading carried on:
"During the pandemic, my study of MRes Children's Literature at Reading in 2020 was not affected that much as I envisioned. If I had any issues or questions about my study or daily life, all the staff were willing to reach out to answer the questions or give advice. I still had regular online meetings and discussions via emails with my dissertation supervisor, Dr Neil Cocks, and our director, Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, constantly sent us her warmest concerns and greetings via emails. The warm and supportive atmosphere is the key factor for me to continue my study over the pandemic."
Taking the next step
Ting-Fang decided to apply for PhD study after completing her master's at Reading:
"My master's courses prepare me to step on the pathway of doing a PhD with the skills of doing the academic reading, analysing, and stating my stance lucidly. The Master study also helps me gain a wider and deeper understanding of Children's Literature along with other critical theories in that I am able to carry on more independent research in this field."
Advice for prospective students
"I would highly recommend this master's to those who are interested in, and passionate about, studying MRes Children's Literature at Reading, like me. It would offer new and challenging perspectives to make you think differently and extensively and, in turn, you will learn something beyond your expectations. This study has been a very brilliant adventure for me to constantly challenge myself and push my learning potential forwards. It is, to me, worthwhile to go on this fantastic journey at Reading, like Lucy in Narnia, Bilbo in The Hobbit, or Alice in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I always get amazement and surprise on the way of my study."