September 5, 2007

back to school

Dear defenestraters,

I'm proud of you for all your summer progress, Sarah. And congratulations, Dr. Swanson! I think Emily deserves a final Fanny award as a parting gift.

I am working on my draft of chapter 2. I'm about 2/3 of the way through it but it's really ROUGH. My goal this week is to try to get the draft in some sort of reasonable shape and send it to John this time next week.

I'm also auditing an early mdoern european history class this semester. I think it will really benefit my dissertation research. The prof provides a very thorough bibliography that sounds like it's worth its weight in gold. We'll see.

I would love to meet. I teach m/w, 5:30-7:20, and my office hours are m/w 4:30-5:30, so I'm on campus infrequently and at late hours this semester, but I can be somewhat flexible if needed.


September 3, 2007

labor day

hi everybody, as you all know: Dr. Emily Swanson has defended her dissertation. yipee! the first among us.
are we on for this spring? maybe just virtually? i've got a tough schedule ahead of myself but would like a weekly check in. maybe online, maybe in person. how should this work?
in the meantime. I will report my...

Summer accomplishments: finished Fern chapter and a bad Introduction. Revised part of that introduction into my Albery Whitman conference paper, delivered. First draft of abstract completed. Vacation! Since then, Second and Third draft of abstract completed. I'm no longer ashamed of it. Writing sample begun. I feel that this is a pretty good list of things to get done. While I should have finished my chapter in Fall, there was no way, so I feel that I made up for it. While I wanted a Writing Sample draft done before school started, I'm hoping to be only a week behind. So, these are my:

Goals: Finish the writing sample first draft this coming labor day week. Find a balance at the C4W and disst. work. Be healthy: work out 4 days a week, including one yoga and one sitting meditation.

hope to hear from yall soon. S$

July 10, 2007


Hello Denefestrators,

I somehow didn't realize we had a meeting scheduled, so I have also missed it. I'm sorry I didn't make it. Do we have another meeting scheduled?

It's been fun to catch up on your entries. I have been making progress--I think I might actually be ready to turn the thing in on the 25th! Just got comments from Donald on Chapter 4. At the end, he wrote, "You're on your way," which I take to be a good sign. It's a little bit embarrassing how much I analyze each of his comments.

Back to the grindstone. Good luck with the conference papers! I'm sure you'll be phenomenal.


July 9, 2007

come on conference paper. just write yourself!

hey everybody.
ok. i've finally sat down and worked on my conference paper.
while it may not be the most brilliant thing i've ever written, i think it may make an interesting talk. i'm going to have to read it out loud a bunch and see if i can't get any more ideas into it.
right now i think it's entertaining enough. thanks also to a power-point.
but i'm not sure if it is brilliant enough. i may be counting on charm and polish rather than genuine shine.
like mitch, i'm really enjoying preparing for a long camping trip. and i have a bad habit of giving myself reward before! as well as after! i work. yes, i'm bribing myself w/ $14 denim capris and pad thai with fried tofu. can you believe it? i make no excuses. i've officially spoiled myself. and i find it impossible to work without treats. i may be turning into a scholarly puppy.
i'm looking forward to my vacation and also to the feeling of refreshment and optimism that i know will follow.
can't wait to catch up with you all in person.
best, S$

July 6, 2007

so I have no good excuse...

I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted and/or spoke with !defenestrate!. I have no good excuse; I've been procrastinating like crazy, had a visit from my mother-in-law that was a significant distraction, and have been dealing with a gas leak in my apartment building. I'm afraid I've used all of these excuses not to work on writing, reading, or much of anything else. Today I am back at it with renewed energy.

And I realized about a week too late that I missed our June 20 meeting. My head has been in the clouds.

Are we meeting again any time soon?

Hope all of your work is going as well as it sounds! Good luck at the SHARP conference, Mitch and Sara!

powerpoint for SHARP

mitch, your conference sounds great.
SHARP is so big that it is sometimes hard to make those connections. i hope this conference proves otherwise. your paper is at the same time Wed. as a panel on African American 19th work, which i'd really like to see b/c i think that is the other place my paper could have been placed. i'll have to check the order of papers to see if i can slip in or out of your presentation.
you are under no obligation to see mine at 9am Saturday.
i can give you and / or defenestrate the 15 minute talk separately. of course i'd love to hav eyou there, but whatever works.
i have just finished my SHARP paper PowerPoint. no, i haven't finished the paper itself yet. I hope to do that right away, but i'm still distracted by looking for camping gear, organizing camping gear, looking for hotel deals and phone numbers so we can have a nice place after 4-5 nights in the woods.....
our fun is coming soon, mitch.

July 5, 2007

another great academic gathering

The Writing Center Technology Summit in Texas A&M last month was a pretty remarkable gathering of academics. And now I've been part of another uncommon academic event. The Critical Hmong Studies Workshop convened on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Nine of us spend two full days together, and I am, again, really amazed at what academics can actually do when they come together in a spirit of collaboration and conversation (rather than posturing and puffing). It was a very stimulating, if exhausting, environment. I think we all felt our specific papers were improved by the rich and careful feedback and that we discovered generous and loyal colleagues for life. It was profound.

The feedback on my Alphabet Wars chapter from the workshop will help inform some of the changes I make in presenting that chapter at the SHARP conference next week. This is the first time that I am able to make a conference presentation where I feel like I am actually presenting a longer work. Since I have actually written much of this chapter, I think I will be able to say things like, "In the introduction to this chapter, I lay out framework X," without having to take the time to actually lay framework X out. I think that will save me a lot of time so I can talk about specific examples (which I assume will be of greatest interest to my audience), and it will save me from spending all of my time on the introduction and framing (which is my tendency). So this is a unique experience for me in preparing/presenting a conference paper. I'm excited.

All of this slows down the work on my Generation(s) of Diaspora chapter. I have a few movies to watch and write about. I think I am starting to migrate towards an emphasis—at least a partial one—on romantic melodrama/comedy. Those movies are abundant and popular. I think a genre has emerged and evolved that reveals an important progression in diasporic community and diasporic thinking. Get the popcorn.

July 3, 2007

checking in, conference paper ramblings

Hi Everybody,
Well, I'm finally checking in.
I've written a 5 page introduction. I think it's pretty crappy, but I need an intervention.
I feel like i've been working since christmas and i need a break. did we have spring break? did we have any break?
I've got a vacation scheduled 2 weeks away. I'll be taking 4 weeks off.
So I know i've got that to look forward to, but there's a lot to do in the meantime!
So, my conference paper is slow going. I think it's my own fault. Here are my problems with working.
1) I'd rather plan for my upcoming vacation. I've been grocery shopping for camp food, etc. This is very fun. And it's time consuming. I bought travel scrabble yesterday in a target run that set me back a few hours when it was all said and done and lunch had, etc.
2) I think I may be nervous about giving a persentation that pat and tom will probably attend. i think dan will be there too. so i want to make it good. then, why do i procrastinate? being worried is making me procrastinate. that is very strange.
3) I think i have a latent belief that I can wing it. that this is no big deal.
4) as soon as i finish the conference paper, i need to return to the introduction. i definately don't want to do that.
Now that i've itemized and confessed my procrastination reasons maybe i can get over them.
wish me luck!
go kick some butt defenestrate!

June 19, 2007

What I've missed...

...while slogging through graduate school is one of the fundamental motivations for entering in the first place to write the dissertation I've been thinking about for years, namely the pleasure of person-to-person conversation.

As I have been researching my Generation(s) of Diaspora chapter on Hmong video over thirty years and over three generations of refugees/immigrants, I have been able to do the research that is most satisfying and pleasurable to me. I walk into a Hmong video rental store and start talking to the owner, asking questions about the inventory, asking about a particular old movie I've heard about, looking for insight into the video scene. Everyday conversations offer profound satisfaction and enjoyment.

As my schedule has generally kept me on campus, I have felt frustrated trying to research in the "usual" way of library and internet. It doesn't work for me or for my dissertation. And I knew that long ago when I chose my topic. And I was actually excited because I knew that I wouldn't be stuck in an archive or a library, but that I had to be out and communicating with people. It's what I like best.

So four or five video stores later, I've met some remarkable people and come across videos and filmmakers and ideas that never would have presented themselves in isolation—or in more formal interviews. There is probably a description of this methodology that is circulating, but I'm not aware of it. Certainly, there is something ethnographic about it, but it feels quite distinct from an anthropologist's approach. In any case, I don't much care about what it could be called or what a literature review on it would be called. I'm content that it supplies a tremendous amount of energy to me as a researcher and a dissertation writer and it makes me feel more—not less—connected with humanity in an otherwise isolating pursuit of higher education.

June 12, 2007

fern is done (for now)

hey everybody. well, fanny fern clocks in 11 days overdue, but longer than expected, so that's sort of a good reason for the extended deadline. i'm at 50 pages, double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman. I've got 5 sections and tried to put an idea or two in each. i do a lot of close reading, but i think my reader would need the Fern exposure rather than launching into arguments unthethered.
today i meet with tom about my Senarens (storypaper / flying machine) chapter. I am looking forward to that, it's in an hour. I spent the morning re-reading my chapter, running errands, and relaxing.
Tomorrow I need to get back to work.
What's my new plan?
I think I need to start my Introduction. But I'm pretty clueless how to start research and writing that document. After my Introduction comes my Abstract (for the job market). Then, my Conference Paper for SHARP.
Emily, can you give me any Introduction pointers? I don't even know what the format is like.
I can't wait to catch up w/ ya'll.
I bought some new glasses to celebrate. They are beautiful. You will see them soon!
xo, S$

June 5, 2007

next meeting

Next defenestrate meeting--Wed. June 20th, noon.

See you then. Emily

i'm online


i am now online. e

done and double booked

I pulled a Mitch. I agreed to meeting on Tuesday mornings despite the fact that I have a standing meeting at the Center for Writing on Tuesday mornings throughout the summer. I'm done at noon, but that may be too late for Elizabeth (and this message may come too late for anyone to adjust their schedule or plans for coming to campus). I am sorry to screw up again, but I'd like for you to go ahead and meet. I have posted some of my progress and concerns on our blog, so you know where I have been.

And I submitted this really really really really rough draft to the critical Hmong studies workshop group, in which I feel I have put my entire ego on the line. The thing is SUCH a mess. I would never ordinarily let anyone read something in this condition, but I'm really trusting in the collegiality of the group AND in the fact that 1) I have been pushed to get a lot more done than I otherwise would have and 2) that feedback from this group will be exceptionally productive at this stage.

So, I accomplished my big goal.

I'm setting aside "Alphabetic Wars" for now (I'll return to it off and on before the July 2-3 workshop) and turning my attention to "Generation(s) of Diaspora," the chapter about narrative films over 3 generations/30 years that is my GRPP project with Jigna Desai. I meet with her on Wednesday to inaugurate our weekly meetings throughout the summer. I'm very eager to start a new chapter and to be able to work so closely with Jigna.

That's my update from here. Again, I'm sorry to blow our meeting tomorrow/today. I'm good for anything after noon on Tuesdays going forward for the rest of the summer.

June 4, 2007

the iceberg cometh

I'm working on getting this draft off today/tonight. I'm not really worried about it because I am thinking about it as a very early draft, and I am simply glad to have gotten some momentum (finally!). And I am eager for the feedback that I'll get next month.

But only just now do I realize how much more there is for me to know. Sara talks about identifying articles and books that seem to demand to be read. I keep coming across orthographies I was previously unaware of, and then I find there are people to meet and to talk with. I have a list of six men that I need to meet to talk about the history and meaning of their working in devising alternative writing systems. There is so much here, I wonder if this can be contained to a single chapter. This could easily become a dissertation unto itself. That thought is stunning. And it makes me wonder how to continue to approach my project.

A lot of my difficulties relate to methodologies. I need some, but I've barely been given any. Living resources tend to be the most important in my work, which is no surprise to me, but I didn't realize the unique challenge trying to work with and organize that kind of data would be. Some days I'd rather just have a pile of paper and books to read through. On other days I'm really glad that my research necessitates these human interactions. It is the research I'd rather do, but it seems more difficult at the same time.

So, as I realize I am just dealing with the tip of this massive iceberg, and as I charge forward into the pitch of night towards that iceberg and any others that may be lurking in dark waters, I wonder what's in store for me. Discovery? Or disaster?

So I just keep writing...

May 30, 2007

calming the crisis

warning. i am processing. you don't need to read my inner monologue...
o man, i have so much work to do! i have to admit. i am having a minor freak out. so, i'm going to use this blog to talk myself down. it's funny how moody this writing process is. i've intentionally isolated myself, physically and intellectually, in order to work. so i've got 40 pages of prose with 4 or 5 holes that need to be entirely written. this is pretty good. i've spent the morning re-organizing, and am really happy w/ how i was able to move the biographical part of Fanny to the end of the essay. i hope that i'm able to keep it that way.
here's the crisis. i have so much more (secondary) research to do! i had a question: what makes my "weekly paper" the NY Ledger different from a storypaper? well, according to my friend the Stanford Online Dime Novel resource which i'm glad isn't brand new to me, it is a storypaper. well, yes, i think, of course it is. hey, this is good news for me and ties really nicely w/ the boys storypapers of my Senarens chapter.
yet, this little question led me to remember that i have intentionally isolated myself, intellectually, and that i haven't read secondary sources since the beginning of the "spring" (read, winter) semester. so, i jump on JSTOR and there's simply a ton of reading i need to do.
ok. this is not necesarily a reason to freak out. yes, i had begun to think that there is so very very little written on Fern. and this is still true. but now i have 7 article i want to read and 4 books. so, can i complete the draft first and read the stuff second. and then add it.
or, do i need to break from writing and read the stuff and then finish the writing.
this is my crisis.

ok. i think the answer is to finish the draft of the chapter. i have a goal of thursday to do this by. danno is selling his condo and really need my help painting this evening. so i have 5 hours of time left to work today. then, i can work most of the day thurs, but then it's off to st. louis.
so, if i started reading now i would simply be interrupted in it anyway. i think it will take 2 weeks at least to read and that really messes w/ my summer goals. well, i shouldn't get too far ahead of myself.
i think i've talked myself down enough to decide that i should continue with my horse-blinders on and finish a whole draft of this chapter. then, i can read and write. let me tell you, this 40+ page chapter has no body's voice in it but me and Fanny. there are only a few token footnotes that suggest a bigger picture. woah, back up. i was getting to crisis mode again.
ignore the knawing anxiety of a drastic revision ahead. and simply state my opinions clearly so that they are easy to re-work. (see, i can't stop thinking ahead.)
ok, blinder's on. full speed ahead.
i can't wait to see you guys next tues! S$