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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership


Dr Sarah Dillon, Director of the Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership 

Dr Sarah Dillon is Director of the Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership  and a University Lecturer in Literature and Film in the Faculty of English. She is a feminist scholar specialising in the analysis of intersection and interconnection, specifically between contemporary literature, film, philosophy and science. She is author of The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory (2007), Deconstruction, Feminism, Film (2018), and editor of David Mitchell: Critical Essays (2011) and Maggie Gee: Critical Essays (2015). Sarah is founder and editor of the book series Gylphi Contemporary Writers: Critical Essays and Chair of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies. Sarah is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence where she co-leads the AI Narratives project. She also works as an Arts Broadcaster for the BBC, presenting regularly across BBC Radio 3 and 4. 




Dr Alistair Swiffen, AHRC Doctoral Training Facilitator

Alistair is responsible for coordinating and developing the Cambridge AHRC DTP’s core training strands in Arts and Humanities Research Methods and Research Leadership. He oversees individual training needs analysis and support for PhD students of the Cambridge AHRC DTP, and offers one-to-one follow-up advice relating to funding for fieldwork, internships and other high-cost training initiatives.

He also arranges the DTP’s Media, Film, Social Intelligence and World Factory training options, as well as the Student-Led Research and Reading Groups Competition. Together with Chris Young, he supports the student organizing committee for the DTP’s International Conference.

After finishing a PhD in French at the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall), Alistair spent five years as a Fellow in Modern Languages and Tutor in French at Hertford College, Oxford. He then spent a year teaching French and German at Rugby School, followed by four-and-a-half years as Visiting Lecturer in English, French and German at Eötvös József College in Hungary, where he was also Institutional Coordinator for the ERASMUS Exchange Scheme. He returned to Cambridge in 2014, to take up his current position as the AHRC Doctoral Training Facilitator.

Alistair’s own PhD thesis explored how madness, psychological alienation or psychosis were characterized in the works of the nineteenth-century poet and short fiction writer Gérard de Nerval, the key surrealist author Robert Desnos, and the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. His main publications have examined Desnos, Lacan, the modernist poet Guillaume Apollinaire, the thinkers Gilles Deleuze and Slavoj Žižek, and Louis Wolfson, the influential American schizophrenic author whose works are written in French.


Catherine Hasted, AHRC Partnerships Manager

Catherine is responsible for connecting Cambridge AHRC DTP students with a broad range of non-academic organisations from across the globe through a variety of tailor-made programmes.  These unique opportunities include masterclasses with senior leaders from diverse fields, internships and longer-term interactive programmes.  Organisations we regularly work with include Arts Council England; BP; British Telecom; NATO; United Nations; Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Marshall Group Cambridge; the publisher Springer Nature; Wimbledon; and the media production companies Brook Lapping and History Works. 

This year, together with Professor Young, Catherine is launching a new initiative, The University of Cambridge ThinkLab, developed specifically for Arts and Humanities PhD students.  This exciting programme connects PhD students with the brightest minds from organisations to generate innovative solutions to complex, live problems. To date we have worked closely with architects Jestico and Whiles and the leading architectural consultancy firm Colander Associates to design a new multi-million pound building.  Current ThinkLabs include working with the national charity The Reading Agency and B Lab UK – an inspiring new global venture. 

Prior to joining the University, Catherine was Chief Operating Officer for a national charity, with responsibility for the operations and growth of the organisation.  Catherine is currently studying for her PhD in educational research and has developed the ThinkLab model.  She is part of a national research group comprising seven researchers from across the UK, focusing on change management and learning within organisations.