Under the spotlight Dr Elspeth Jajdelska, Senior Lecturer in English

We had a chance to catch up with Dr Elspeth Jajdelska, who is a Senior Lecturer in English, teaching on the undergraduate BA degree in English literature.

Tell us a little bit about your career so far...
I enjoyed my undergraduate degree so much that I didn't want to stop, and went on to a PhD on diary writing. Then I worked for 3 years in finance before taking a post at a university in Krak√≥w (Poland). I joined Strathclyde in 2001.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
I've had a couple of 'Eureka' moments in my research; one in a swimming pool, one in a cafe. They don't sound exciting from the outside, but they are flashbulb memories for me.

What is your role within the school?
I teach classes on Soviet literature and cognitive approaches to literature, and am currently the subject leader for English & ECW (English & Creative Writing). 

What inspired you to enter your field/profession?
Literature is fundamental to humans; I know of no human society which doesn't use verbal art. But we know very little about how it affects us and why it's so fundamental.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Keep doing things you find interesting; organise everything else around that.

What initially attracted you to the University of Strathclyde?
English at Strathclyde is open to unusual approaches, e.g. from linguistics or cognitive science.

What are your biggest professional challenges?
Universities are more complex than they used to be; it's hard to find time.

What current trends do you see influencing your field?
Greater inclusivity is slowly making the discipline more just and more interesting. The excluded have had to push hard for this, and we're not there yet.

Tell us about any research you are currently involved in.
I'm working with neuroscientists on why reading fiction can feel like being in a different world.

Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for any prospective students?
Some applicants want to study English, but think something else might be better for a career. Our careers service can explain that's not necessarily true. Study what you enjoy, you'll do better at it.

Any special thanks or shout-outs you'd like to give to colleagues who have helped or inspired you throughout your career here?
I take an unusual approach to literature (from the perspective of linguistics, anthropology and cognitive science). I've been very lucky to work with Professor Nigel Fabb, who shares these interests and is always interested in new ideas.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
I'm in the job that suits me most. But if I had to swap, then with an orchestral musician.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
Family, music, walking, and cycling.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Disco is the pleasure that embarrasses those close to me.

In one word, describe what Strathclyde means to you.
Unpretentious.

Find some of Elspeth's work here:

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01161/full 
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-59221-7_12

Published date: June 1, 2022