Freya Blundell Meyer is the first author in our BASc@UCL Blog Series, in which we showcase the work from the Arts and Sciences (BASc) course taught at University College London (UCL).
Four years ago, I got a letter through my door from UCL about a new interdisciplinary degree called the Arts and Sciences BASc. As I was struggling to find universities that offered dual honours that met my interests of psychology and literature, I decided to apply. It was varied, flexible, forward thinking and the degree offered the opportunity to continue a breadth of subjects, whilst learning beyond discipline boundaries to explore unique knowledge intersections.
My studies focused on modern literature and psychology, but over the three years it became a rich fabric made of museum studies, 3D printing, french, consultancy and even programming. All of this accumulated in a dissertation on Time; how we experience it neurologically and how we explore it in different creative forms.
The link between literature and psychology has always intrigued me, so I decided to pursue it in my dissertation, Articulating Temporal Experience: The Psychology of Time through Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Waves’. As the title suggests, my research focused on Woolf’s high point of modernism, analysing the time frameworks in the book using psychology and neuroscience. Woolf was preoccupied with the present moment and in her writing she attempts to dissect it in all its experiential complexity.
Taking The Waves as a starting point, I explored the fabric of time experience; how we talk about it, the internal and external frameworks that underpin our lives, and how our sense of time changes as we age. Many time frameworks permeate the text so it was a perfect example of an artistic expression of temporal experience. Woolf presents natural, social, internal, and lifespan time through six characters’ interwoven thoughts.
I was drawn to the topic because time is so fundamental to every aspect of human experience; nothing escapes its effect and yet, when we try to pin down — what it is or what it feels like — we struggle. We use borrowed language to talk about it, for example, time can be wasted or spent like a resource or drag like an object. Time is continually present but distinctly evasive; all people experience the notion of ageing and the feeling of time speeding up or running out, but when we attempt to explain, we fail to capture its multiplicity. As in real life, the characters in The Waves all experience time differently, an hour can fly by for one person or feel like four for another. All of this Woolf coopts in her delicate and perceptive writing.
Our individual experience of time has an intricate architecture, and therefore finding one discipline to encompass all of its qualities is impossible. By utilising literature, psychology, art, and physics, I was able to form a broader understanding of the present moment than any single discipline could offer alone.
Since graduating in September 2016, I have started working for the talent consultancy, Koreo, a multidisciplinary organisation working for social change. As well as having a shiny new website, Koreo do incredible stuff and are made of exceptional people. I am currently working on the Koreo Prize, a story telling competition to unlock unheard perspectives on UK social issues, but they also run Charityworks, the non-profit graduate scheme, and Good Women, a network for socially minded women.
Linkedin: Freya Blundell Meyer
Image: Harold. E. 1964. How to Make Apple Sauce. MIT