Help Michael Joel Bartelle Complete His PhD

Hello All!

Who Am I??
My name is Michael Joel Bartelle. I am about to begin my second year of study for my PhD at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

What Do I Need? and Why Do I Need It?
I began my study at the Institute in the autumn of 2019, with the initial aim of self-funding my course—just as I had done with my MA. In the first several months of my PhD, I supported myself and paid my fees through a combination of acting work, yoga teaching, and a small personal loan. In March, due to the Covid-19 crisis, my regular sources of income evaporated.

I had applied for a scholarship via the University, supported with very strong references, which would have covered my student fees and provided a stipend. However, I was recently informed that the scholarship scheme had been withdrawn due to the dire state of the University’s budget (another casualty of the virus). The situation is particularly challenging for me as an international student, as the fees are at least three times greater than those for home students.

Despite this general lack of academic funding available to people in my situation, I have managed to secure £5900 in scholarships toward tuition fees in the coming academic year through the generosity of the Richard Stapley Trust and the Barry Jackson Fund.

If I were a UK/EU student, this amount would just about cover it. As an international student, however, my annual fees are £17,540. Thus, I still need your help with the remaining £11,640.

Isn't This Amount Just For One More Year? What About Your Third Year?
Yes. I believe that I am on track to submit my thesis one year from now. In order to make the most of the funds I have received, I plan to keep my head down and finish a year ahead of schedule. This is certainly unconventional, but it is technically possible.

What Do I Have To Show For Myself After One Year of Study?
I can confidently say that my work thus far (since September 2019) has exceeded the general expectations of a first-year research student in the humanities. In addition to writing over 30,000 words toward my thesis (which has a maximum word count of 80,000), I have:

+Presented papers at two academic conferences

+Submitted two articles, currently under peer-review, to major academic journals (Shakespeare and Shakespeare Bulletin)

+Served on the organising committee for a very successful online conference (British Graduate Shakespeare Conference #BritGrad2020)

+Participated in a major group research project (Shakespeare Institute Marathon, lead by Senior Scholar Dr Martin Wiggins)

Why Is This So Important?

I won't pretend that my higher education is more vital than a lot of other things you could be donating to. But I do genuinely believe that the work I am doing is important as well. So much of my life has been dedicated to increasing the diversity of voices within the worlds of Shakespeare Studies and Shakespearean Theatre, and completing this degree will provide me with a qualification that will greatly increase my impact in that mission.

As a young Black actor, I have been inspired by watching the career trajectories of those who look like me. All of my work has also benefited tremendously from an active engagement with the academic output of the world’s great Shakespeare scholars. However, I have noticed that the perspective of Black academic voices within the field of Shakespeare Studies are still quite few and far between. I have come to study at the Shakespeare Institute in order to contribute to—and, I hope, to broaden the scope of—the diversity of the scholarly conversation that has so enriched my artistic work thus far.

My professional ambitions are threefold:

+To train young actors—especially actors of colour—in an approach that is as artistically innovative as it is academically rigorous (specifically, my dream is to start an MFA programme, with an aim to provide extra support to talented young actors from underprivileged communities)

+To lecture in Shakespeare Studies courses 

+To help facilitate—via my continued work as a theatre actor—a deepened connection between academic and theatrical Shakespeareans

Why Don't I Just Get A Job? Or a loan?
Great question! In fact, I have got some work that will help me with some basic living expenses. Unfortunately, since I am on a student visa, the amount of time I am allowed to work during term time is strictly limited. Likewise, as an international student, I do not qualify for student financing.

If I Can't Afford To Continue...Why Don't I Just Stop And Do Something Else?
It's true that I have exhausted the possibilities of scholarships, loans, and work options, and I have still come up significantly short. In all honesty, this has been both frustrating and anxiety-inducing. However, the encouragement that I have received from everyone around me at the Institute and beyond (especially from my primary supervisor, Dr Erin Sullivan), has instilled in me a belief that I deserve to carry on; that my contributions to this field do not matter any less just because I have not received traditional funding. I also want to honour the generosity of the scholarships I have already received.

Additionally, ending my studies would mean an end to my life here in the UK. This is my home, and I want to remain if there is any possible way to do so.

I can't give up yet. It is simply too important for me to finish what I have begun. Passing the virtual hat is indeed deeply humbling. It would simply be the most meaningful thing in the world if you were to consider helping me achieve my dream.

Thank you for your support!

Much love,

P.S. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me about them.


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Michael Joel Bartelle 
Bishopton, West Midlands, United Kingdom

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