A new year, a new step

Posted: January 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Happy new year, my loyal reader. Sorry I haven’t been posting recently. I actually have quite a bit to talk about, but I’ve been saving the thoughts elsewhere. I will get to those articles and books in another entry. First, though, I wanted to talk about where I am and where this year is going to take me.

I’m at the point now where the dissertation looms above me, casting its shadow over all the land around it. Everything I do no is a step towards the dissertation. I don’t even have a prospectus finished, but that’s just one step. One part of it all. Other parts are here on this blog, where you can maybe follow the lines of research I’ve gone down and weave them all together into my project. Maybe there’s a connection between user centered design, artificial intelligence, and the heteronormative binary. Maybe there isn’t. But if not, it will still have bearing on my new project.

This is a near universal truth I have found about academia. Not having the background you would expect with a particular project is never a hinderance. In some ways, it’s very helpful. When I started getting a degree in English composition, I hadn’t taken an English class in four years. I didn’t know much of anything about writing, and all of my training was in philosophy and logic. I hadn’t read the classics, hadn’t read much of anything that English academics care about.

Instead, I had a background in philosophy. So when we were reading various English theorists like Stanley Fish or Peter Elbow, I had no basis to compare them to. But when Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucaul, Wittgenstein, and even Plato showed up, I had a hefty background. I knew these works in a way that even my profressors didn’t. I knew them as philosophical works, not English theory. So instead of being hopelessly behind, like I thought I was, I found myself way ahead, but with some gaps in my foundation that I could easily fill in.

The same happened when I started here. I came in to a department of rhetoric and scientific and technical communication, and the only part of that I understood was rhetoric. I thought, once agan, that I would be far behind. But then we started reading Plato again, and Aristotle, but also Isocrates and Cicero. I had a strong background, but there was a lot to learn. I started reading more Foucault, but also de Certeau, Lacan, and Barthes. New names, new ideas.

But I wasn’t left behind. What I was, instead, was coming from a different perspective. I can bring a different way of looking at things than other people, because of my educational background. I am trained to look at things one way, which is often different than others, so it allows for interesting results.

I think that’s why law schools tend NOT to want pre-law students. They prefer students with Philosophy, Political Science, or History degrees (in that order), because those people will bring a different way of looking at things, a creativity that is necessary in law.

So I’m investigating a field of identity, which I know a lot about, gender, which I am learning a lot about, and queerness, which I only know a little. I have discovered that I am not exactly an outsider, which is good, but nor am I so adamantly a part of that group that I consider it a part of my identity that I can’t examine. I’m coming with a different perspective. Which I think will help.

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