This blog was a teaching tool utilized during the Spring 2010 semester at the University of Minnesota where students of GWSS 4108- Senior Seminar: Writing offered through the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. In the course we worked the entire semester on extensive senior research projects, so many of the assignments might be useful for designing long-term writing assignments, or organizing your own deadlines for writing a long research paper.

As with most blogs, this blog has the most recent posts listed at the top. If you would like to start at the beginning of the blog please click here or feel free to browse the archives. 

If you have any questions about the blog or content feel free to contact me, Kandace Creel Falcón through email:

The process of writing this paper has been about the same as I expected it would be. My paper relies heavily on research (because of the topic and that is simply just how I write) so I have been spending a lot of time finding research on different topics throughout the paper. The only difficulty I have faced is organizing themes of race, class and gender into clearly defined and organized paragraphs since they are all so connected to one another. I prefer it when papers are very clear and organized, but those parts by nature will have to be a bit less concise on just one topic at a time since they do all go together so well and can't be separated.
Peer reviews always help with framing arguments because they bring a different perspective to the table.

Just a friendly reminder on our last week of class we will be doing 10 minute presentations to the class on your project findings (more on this to come later). On Wednesday May 5th, our class will be held during the time of the GWSS End of the Year Celebration (details below). During this time I expect three of you (the two of you who are doing honors theses plus at least one but maximum two brave volunteer/s) to present your work as this is a main billing of the celebration (along with awards and cake and other treats). Some benefits to being the extra brave volunteers are: you get it over with, you can do your presentation beyond the scope of the class, and right after that stressful event you'll get cake! I don't know if we can say the same for those who choose to present on Friday. So, start thinking about if you want to present in this format or in our class alone, we will discuss this further in class tomorrow.

What: End of the Year Celebration
When: Wednesday May 5th, 1:00-2:30pm (Please show up when class starts - 12:45 so that we can set up for presentations. For those of you who cannot stay the entire time that is fine, simply slip out the back at 2:00, when our class usually ends.)
Where: 440 Ford Hall (GWSS Lounge)

Also please feel free to invite friends and family to celebrate your wonderful senior year accomplishments.

From the beginning of this semester, my writing process has been changing and developing into something that I want it to be. The readings that we did, especially in the beginning, have helped me to find my own voice in the shape that I want it. I have experimented with alternative forms of knowledge in this class as well as others, which has primarily included poetry and a more personal voice throughout my writing. Because of this, I have been struggling with some self-consciousness. I am exploring methods of writing that are outside of my comfort zone, and because of that I have been extremely nervous to look at feedback and talk about the weak parts of my pieces. The great thing about it is that I have had primarily positive feedback!! Not to say that the feedback is not constructive, but the nightmare of a paper covered in red pen criticism has not happened! This has been a large part of self-confidence in my writing and has encouraged me to continue taking risks and have more faith in myself.

My paper has been coming along nicely. I am enjoying analyzing the survey, but it is difficult because I have only analyzed other surveys, in which I do not know the subjects of the questions. Nevertheless, it has been really interesting. I need to keep in mind my position through all of this and why I choose to highlight certain responses while not including others. I plan to work especially hard on my transitions between paragraphs but also between theoretical and personal parts. While I re-read and re-read again, I will make sure that my points are clear and explained thoroughly. Even though it scares me a bit, I think I will have some trusted friends and family members read it.

Writing Process Reflection

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My entire year, especially this semester, has been consumed with this project. I have a tumultuous relationship with writing and my final "product" is significantly different than what I originally set out to create. That said, I think the process has gone pretty well. I definitely had a hard time getting started, but once I did, things came together pretty fast. I struggled (and continue to struggle) with the amount of ideas I am trying to synthesize into one, cohesive unit. My paper is already quite lengthy and I'm trying very hard not to make it much longer.

I am currently struggling with the revision process because in many ways, I feel like I am already done. After turning in such a complete first draft, I've found it difficult to go back and dig in to the writing process once again. To be completely honest, I'm just worn out and ready to move on. I have learned a lot throughout this process and in many ways I already feel like I have moved on from this particular piece. There are many new things I am interested in writing about/working on but they are outside the scope of this project.

Although some parts have been difficult, I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore some of my creative writing and experiment with different forms of academic writing. This is the first time I feel even remotely successful in that endeavor. I am also grateful for the times I spent with students and teachers in workshops or in conversation. These were certainly the most meaningful learning experiences for me.

The process of peer review was helpful since it was the first time anyone read the meat of what I was working on all semester. It was nice to get feedback, both positive and critical, to push me towards the final draft.

Annotated Bibliography 3

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**Just a little bit late! I wanted to post this after I had some new and more relevant sources after adjusting my paper. I thought better late than never.**

Brown, Wendy. "The Impossibility of Women's Studies." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 9.3 (1997): 79. Print.

In The Impossibility of Women's Studies, Wendy Brown questions and analyzes where the field of women's studies is at the present moment. Brown highlights the importance of the creation of the field at the time of its conception and inclusion into academia. However, she also goes on to detail many of the numerous issues that women's studies as a discipline faces today. For instance, she argues that the field circumscribes meaning to the "uncircumscribable" category of women and that to maintain "women" as an object of study there must be a constant negation and expulsion of theory and fields that work to deconstruct the work that has been women's studies to this point.
This is a really important work for my paper because it really helped me to realize that my issue was not with feminism per se, but much more concerned with how feminism, institutionalized through women's studies (and GWSS), is used to create a category of women based on experiencing the same gender identity. And though that sounds like an equally broad generalization, I am using this piece to reflect on my time spent at UMD in the Women's Studies department before I transferred here to UMTC in the Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies department. My time in Duluth really shaped my understanding of feminism and this discourse that still continues in Women's Studies is what I'm using this essay to critique.

hooks, bell. "Sisterhood: Political Solidarity between Women." Feminist Review.23, Socialist-Feminism: Out of the Blue (1986): 125-38. Print.

In this text bell hooks addresses the political advantages of women uniting for a shared goal of fighting sexism and male dominance politically. hooks' argument argues that an important oversight of contemporary feminist movements is an underlying concept of sisterhood that must be embraced in order to achieve social change. She asserts that divisive obstacles such as class, race and sexist attitudes as well as other prejudices keep women from achieving this sisterhood.
This is a work that I will use to balance Wendy Brown's arguments against identity politics. hooks uses women as a group based on their identity as women and asserts that female solidarity is goal for which to strive. This is an argument for identity politics and therefore will provide an insight into the positive and revolutionary possibilities of identity politics to balance the negative consequences that I will offer through other texts in order to give a nuanced and thorough introduction to identity politics in my paper.

Brown, Wendy. "Wounded Attachments." Political Theory 21.3 (1993): 390-410. Print.

In this article, Wendy Brown discusses the "troubling aspects" of the development of identity politics, their inability to effectively create change while remaining in the same discursive constraints that oppress them, and the "wounded attachments" identity politics carry with them. She basically argues against identity politics by exposing some of the discursively problematic aspects created through their use.
This is a perfect article to expose some of the issues that identity politics come up against with various theorists. It's important for me to introduce identity politics as a cause of essentialism and to introduce it intelligently and thoroughly I need to acknowledge both advantages and disadvantages of identity politics.

Writing Process Reflection

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This process has been very interesting for me. At the start, I felt like I had this great idea and was articulating it well... and a sensible paper would follow if I just continually reiterated my point. Well. That didn't exactly turn out to be the case. Because writing usually comes pretty easily for me, and my thoughts are typically much more concrete and focused, this has been pretty frustrating. By delving into my own thoughts and narrative, I have really gone outside of my normal writing process and have felt much of the time that I just get lost in trying to get the words from my brain to the paper (or computer). Also, there came a point a couple weeks ago where I realized that what I thought I was trying to say was not at all actually what I meant. I had to really rework my ideas for a while and search again for sources that fit with my arguments more cohesively... this was totally unexpected and was definitely a difficulty. Also, I feel like I am still in this stage and will be until my final draft is turned in. It has been a really different writing experience than any other paper I have written.
Also, schedule-wise, I had a total setback for a while that got me behind in all of my classes, which I only now feel like I am caught up in. But there is still a lot of work outside of this class that I need to finish in the next few weeks so that is a major obstacle.
All of that sounds a little depressing, but for me it has actually been really helpful. I wanted this project to be about self-reflection and where I stand at this point in my life as a feminist and what complications there are in that. Although it sounds a little selfish, I think everyone needs to do this to ground themselves. So in the end, I think I am getting more out of this rather difficult writing process than if this paper was a breeze and I didn't have to go through this introspective phase.
I think that this paper will continue to be a challenge intellectually and schedule-wise for me until it is completed, but I am not totally overwhelmed. It will happen, and it will be chaotic, but hopefully will be a good paper when I am done.

Writing Process Reflection

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AGHHHHHHHH!! Writing about why this project is important to me, and theorizing what I'm do is so hard. I like action, and to create, and I revel in the spontanious moments, feelings, and inspirations that are bubble up in the creative process. That is to say, I'm a little abstract. When ever I do a creative project it's really hard for me to articulate what it means to me or why it's important, because typically it means EVERYTHING to me.

I'm an anxious neurotic little creature, and the chaos of my thought process is somewhat elusive to the structure of the writing process right now. This class though has opened up space for me to see writing as a creative outlet that I just haven't really tapped into yet. We've done a lot to trouble the formality of the written product too, and to acknowledge the importance of documenting our important feminist work in a way the has longevity. Feeling that this work matters makes it easier to create for me.

Another frustration is that while I'm working on these solid deadlines, my all volunteer staff is not. So I feel like I'm trying to strike a balance between understanding that we're all very busy, and staying on everybody's case because I want to see results. While both my meetings went really well, and we have a great flow of creative energy, things aren't getting done as quickly as I would like. So, I just breath and put out positive intentions. I'm putting a lot of trust into other people, and the universe to help me realize this dream. Because this project is difficult, and it's testing the limits of my abilities, I know that it's worth doing. The hardest thing with collaborating on art is that there is so much emotional investment, I'm feeling very vulnerable and exposed through this process. Which is not a bad feeling necessarily.

This assignment is an informal check in via the blog since you all have had a class period off to focus on your writing. I would like you to post any thoughts you are having on the process behind completing your senior project. In general I want to hear how the writing process is going for you.

Particularly I would like you to think about the following questions:

  • What has been difficult for you to accomplish and/or what has been going well?

  • Have you faced any unexpected difficulties in crafting your argument?

  • Do you feel as though the processes of peer review have helped your paper along in any particular way?

  • How do you feel about the remaining work ahead of you? Is it manageable, are you excited? Can you envision your final product at this point?

Remember - for extra credit points respond to two of your peers' entries with comments.

writing process reflection

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well, i'm not done with everything of course, so right now i feel like i'm scrambling to get reading done so i can actually spit the rest out in a coherent fashion. but... the more i read the more i feel the need to add, which gets me frustrated and overwhelmed. it's hard to strike a balance when writing something for academic reasons, especially in feminism because there's so much theory and for the past two years i feel like all i've read are critiques of how other people's writing missed some huge important point - and i don't want to write something that can be torn apart in 30 seconds.

anyways, i have liked the class, but wish i had more time during the semester because i would have probably completed all the assignments in a more through way, which probably would have made the last leg of this process go smoother. it's crunch time for me - besides this class, working, moving, trying to decide on which grad school to go to, volunteering, and trying to have time for things like taking a shower, i have 2 more 10 page papers, a stats assignment and a stats test (which i hope i can do good on so i can actually graduate).

stress? what?

i will say this blog i'm writing right now has been the most therapeutic for me, as i get to vent for a few minutes... i am excited to actually have this whole thesis-thing done with and i know it will be a much better paper because of taking this class and having feedback, encouragement, deadlines, and shared stress.