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'Towards the end of my Master's, I already began looking for the promoters of my next project, the PhD'

Anna Seidl

On smooth transitions

'Reflecting on my different transitions, that took me in the course of time from being a principal ballet dancer at Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam, to a Research Master's student, to a PhD student, to my current teaching position at the UvA in the German department, I realise that those were all quite smooth. Probably due to the fact that I had a lot of luck, but also because I knew the requirements that were necessary to advance. Like in any other career one needs a sort of underlying long term plan or aim, that makes one take certain decisions and choose for certain paths. That’s why I took chances when they came, structured my work and most important, had a passion for what I was doing at the time. Perhaps those aspects are all still old relicts from my previous career as a ballet dancer.'

On W.G. Sebald

'During my two years as a research scholar, I already knew that I wanted to finish my study with a PhD. Because of the limitations of my external subsidy from the Omschooling Dansers Fonds  I knew also, that I had very little time to do so. Research Master's and PhD could all together not take longer than four and a half years. This meant I had to focus from the beginning on and had to conceive a more or less clearly outlined research field at a quite early stage. By accident I had gotten acquainted with the work of the German writer W.G. Sebald, whose special approach to history, messianic hope and interconnectivity both provided a wide range of research possibilities and had a certain actuality – the subject was hot and I could refer to a big Sebald discourse going on at the time including different disciplines like history, literary studies, art history, philosophy etc. His work interested me a lot, so I considered digging deeper and making Sebald my research subject for a longer period of time. This passion for my subject was a very important part to advance fast in my study.'

Assistant teaching 

'Towards the end of my Master's, I began already looking for the promoters of my the next project, the PhD. Luckily I already knew more or less what I wanted to write about, I wanted to stay with Sebald. At the same time I already started with assistant teaching jobs, so I would also gain experiences in the didactic field. Very soon chances to take over some official courses in our department came along. I enjoyed the work a lot and found it a very fruitful balance between my hours behind the desk and in front of the classroom. The last push to finish off the project came from an ad in the paper: the UvA was looking for a teacher. To be able to apply, I first had to give a definite deadline for my PhD, set a defence date and prepare an opened class that I would be judged from. Even though this period might have seemed at times quite stressful, I am very happy that I took the opportunities that were given to me. At the moment I have a temporary job at the UvA for three years. If I can stay on after that time, I can so far only hope for. But to strengthen my position though I invest at the moment any free minute I have to write articles, appear at congresses and develop a research proposal for an NWO funding.'