Posts Tagged ‘PhD’

No one ever did this for me. I wish someone had. I wish I’d known before I started. But I didn’t.

I started my prospectus with no idea what I was doing. I had two others I had seen, things to model after, but I didn’t know even the basic format, aside from what my colleagues had done before me.

So, I followed the model before me, and I put in a section describing the project, one about preliminary theory, one about research questions, and then a vague outline of the chapters in my dissertation. On top of that, I put in a literature review, which was largely taken from this blog. I ended up with a ‘draft’ of 52 pages.

I also ended up using the wrong tone, writing to the wrong audience, and generally doing everything wrong. That’s okay; it’s kind of how I work. I do it, I get told what’s wrong, and I do it again. Not very efficient, but it works. Still, there are a few things it would have been nice to know: (more…)

For the last few days, I’ve been approaching the prospectus in the “Throw it all, see what sticks” format. No attention really paid to structure beyond a few basic signposts, I’ve just been trying to get the ideas down on (electronic) paper. Thankfully, I’ve been collecting sources and doing little outlines for quite some time now. I’m already up to 52 sources, and still feel like I’m just getting started.

Anyway, I don’t know if the way I’m heading is the right way. There’s another way to do this. Actually, there are a lot of different ways, but for me, usually one of these two is the best one to use. So if not the scattershot format I’ve been doing, what do I do? An outline. First basic, then fleshed out, then more fleshed out, and eventually into a paper of significant length. So let’s start with the outline.

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First, a bit of unofficial news: I have been told that I have passed my exams, or at least that I should and should proceed as if I have. The other reader is out of town, so nothing is official, but I have gotten some assurance, which takes off a whole lot of pressure.

And then adds some. I need to get started on this prospectus thing. Which means more research. Which is good; I’m good at research.

This leads me to the article for today: “Building Boxes and Policing Boundaries: (De)Constructing Intersexuality, Transgender and Bisexuality” by Betsy Lucal.

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As promised, I have more research to share. Today I will be discussing Judith Butler’s article “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” For those who don’t know, Butler is one of the most important voices in feminist theory, and one of the most cited authors in the humanities (almost more than Marx and Nietzsche put together).

One of the things I like best about this article is how it talks about gender as a performance, as something in flux. Butler tells us early on that “gender is in no way a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts proceede [sic]; rather, it is an identity tenuously constituted in time – an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts. Further, gender is instituted through the stylization of the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and enactments of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self” (519, emphasis in original). She is saying that the way we act informs our gender identity. That is, we have to act a certain way in order to have a gender. Theoretically, if we acted a different way, if we did not repeat the acts , the gestures, movements, and other enactments, we would lose or change that gender identity. (more…)

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. (more…)

I’m trying to make myself more focused again. I’ve been slacking off too much for too long, and it has to stop. Thankfully, I’m incredibly interested in my project, so it’s not hard to think about. The more I make myself work, the easier it is to do.

I find I’m constantly noticing little things that remind me of my project, which in turn is helping me really define it. I met with Walter Bockting last week (more on him later), and I think he was pretty interested in helping me out, but while we were talking, I saw that I really need to refine my work a bit. I need to know exactly where I’m going, and I need to give it borders and limits. (more…)

The first thing I would like to talk about today is Margot D. Weiss’s article “Mainstreaming Kink” from the Journal of Homosexuality (50: 2, 2006). This article is, primarily, about the way kink, and more specifically BDSM, is represented in mainstream media.

In case it needs to be explained, BDSM is actually a smooshed acronym; that is to say, it should probably be BDDSSM. It’s a combination of B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/S (Dominance and Submission) and S/M (Sadism and Masochism). BDSM is kind of a catchall term. Weiss uses BDSM and SM interchangeably “to denote depictions, perceptions, and interpretations of sexual bondage, dominance/submission, pain/sensation play, power exchange, leathersex, role-playing, and some fetish” (104). All of this stuff is known more colloquially by the much tamer word ‘kink’; hence the title of the article. (more…)

I’ve been branching out my reading lately. I figure I need to re-establish my base of knowledge on identity and kinds of minds, so I figured I would start with John Searle, particularly his book Minds, Brains and Science. Within this book, he supposedly solves the mind/body problem, then goes on to talk about why computers can’t be intelligent. He does this with his famous Chinese Room thought experiment.

The idea of the experiment is that if someone who did not understand were in a room, and people put messages in Chinese through a slot on one side of the room, the guy inside could use a sort of ‘code book’ telling him what the proper response was (also in Chinese) and he could then send those messages out of the room, and people outside might be convinced that he understands Chinese.

I’ve got a couple problems with this. I’ll start from the beginning.

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I have gotten the results of my exams. I passed the exam on the history of rhetorical theory. I passed the exam on Scientific and Technical Communication. I have been asked to take a different specialty exam, as the list I had wasn’t finalized in time, which meant I was not as prepared as I was supposed to be.

In other words: I failed the third exam. And I deserved to. I took 6 months to study the other two, and six WEEKS to study the third (while still studying the other two). So I’m taking a step back, getting to know my shit a bit better, and then taking another swing at it. It’s a hurt to the confidence, but I’m trying to look at it as a story I can tell some day to my students when they panic about their exams (as my adviser did for me).

Anyway, I wanted to talk about an article. “Virtual Gender Identity: The Linguistic Assimilation to Gendered Avatars in Computer-Mediated Communication” by Nicholas A. Palomares and Eun-Ju Lee. This article is basically looking at whether gender-matched avatars lead to more gender-typical language use (they say it does). (more…)

So in four days, I start my exams. I have two questions from each of three professors. The first two days will have two questions a piece, and the second two days will each have one. I won’t lie; I am both stressed and scared. But not as scared as I might have been.

It’s weird feeling prepared. Not because of the work I’ve been doing (I’ve done A LOT), but because a few months ago, this felt like something I could NEVER be fully prepared for. Now, within spitting distance of my questions, I find myself anxious to get started. It’s turned from this looming obelisk of terror into just one more hoop to jump through.

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