September 26, 2008


I successfully defended my dissertation this morning! Whew! - it was actually enjoyable: a delightful intellectual conversation with some really well-informed and thoughtful committee members.

Revisions are extremely minor: revise the abstract to reflect more accurately the contributions that my work makes, and removing a table (and the references to it) that doesn't really do what I had hoped it would. If I can get this done over the weekend, I can submit on Monday and be done.

So, yay! On to publishing articles!

Posted by otto0114 at 4:02 PM

June 29, 2008

Decaying of American landscapes

David Wilson (can it be the UI guy? sounds a bit off his usual subjects) teamed with John A. Jakle in 1992 to write a book called Derelict Landscapes: the wasting of America's built environment.

Might be interesting if it is more than just a documentation of failed infrastructure.

Posted by otto0114 at 2:24 PM · books to read

Alison Stenning's forthcoming article on the steel industry

will appear in European Urban and Regional Studies sometime this year.

Posted by otto0114 at 2:23 PM

May 30, 2008

ILL requests

Lots new! Since school ended (for me) on May 15, I've finished two more chapters (of 9) and have only two more to finish, then some revisions.

Just now I requested two articles I can't get elsewhere: S. Britton's Envir and Plg D piece on critical geography and tourism (1991) and Squires' 1994 piece in Progress in Human Geog on the links b/t geography and tourism studies.

Obviously I am trying "to situate" at the moment. I am insecure about the lit review - so many competing and different expectations on my committee: from "just the minimum focused thing to explain your place" to a full blown discussion of the literature of tourism geography.

I suppose I could eventually write a review article on this, but I just don't find it that interesting. I am trying to find an organizational structure for the lit review that lets me just GET IT DONE. I know a lot about this topic, but I am having a lot of trouble organizing my thoughts and categorizing my reading.

Posted by otto0114 at 8:09 PM

March 20, 2008

plugging away

I spent yesterday combing through my texts on economic development, and trying to pick out the themes I want to talk about for the chapter More of the same this morning, and then a brainstorm about how to frame the chapter-that-used-to-be-two.

So I'm kind of burned out on economic development and back on the agglomeration chapter. I had started to reframe it as "everyday life" (hopefully I didn't get that from one of my peers in this field of study) as opposed to built environment, and now I am uncertain if I can make that work with "contested space." Maybe I should dump everyday life as an organizing principle? I don't want to be too derivative. I notice again and again how I've unconsciously (at least to me) absorbed so many ideas from my reading that I am always startled to re-read an article and notice that someone has "already thought of" my idea. When in reality I am sure I osmotically cribbed it from them, gah!

I read through the introduction chapter this morning and was impressed with how lucid it was. There is a lot less cleanup and editing to do there unless I seriously shift things around a lot in putting the whole puzzle together.

Speaking of which: one of the hardest things about writing a paper this long (I am expecting over 200 pages now) is that I can't keep the whole thing in mind anymore - I am so afraid I'll re-use materials, or worse, leave out a really good bit.

Posted by otto0114 at 5:05 PM

March 18, 2008

what I've read today

Really my brain is fried, but perhaps it would be helpful (for future weeks) to note the articles I've read today:

Lovering on discourses versus jobs
Stenning on PS mobility (Tr British Geogs)
Stenning on the history of NH and HTS (Eur Urban and Regional Studies)
Janus on how horrible NH was in the early years (E European Quarterly)
Ryder on Krakow as a growth pole (Geoforum).

I am trying really hard to articulate where I sit in all this. And the second Stenning article helped with a picture of the challenges for redevelopment in NH.

Posted by otto0114 at 4:53 PM

Spring Break!

Probably not the best use of my time right now to spend two days painting my sister-in-law's living room, but I don't want to be one of those people who says "no" to everything because they are so focused on their own careers/work/needs.
Grad school seems to create that kind of person - mainly because the younger the student at entry, the more susceptible they are to the academic bullshit that "your scholarship is so important, and making a name is so hard, that you must work non-stop at it, and get rid of anything in your life that doesn't get you ahead." Whereas those of us who came to academia from actual careers know that academia is a narrow little world and most business people have nothing but contempt for its cushiness - if indeed they even think about academia at all.

But back to work. Here's where my work stands. I have 3 chapters completely finished and revised, ready for the committee. Two more chapters are finished, but need minor revisions based on my advisor's read. Another chapter needs a major overhaul, because it is combining two former chapters into one, so there is a lot that needs to be done setting the stage more broadly and then incorporating transitions and connections.

Two more chapters are in progress right now, and that's the major focus of my work this week.

The last, summary chapter, is not started. (Although I think it probably has an outline and some notes already.)

My goal today is to figure out how to organize all the materials on economic development discourses, in order to figure out how to sequence the chapter. A bunch of parts of this are done; it's a question of making a logical narrative of them.

Posted by otto0114 at 8:34 AM

January 7, 2008

holiday hiatus complete!

I am trying to get back on track with finishing up my dissertation. My goal is to have a completed draft by 1/24, when I return to teaching. It's really hard to get in the groove of writing when I'm working on class preps every day, and that will be my situation until the middle of May.

On Saturday I finished the final edits to chapter 6, bringing the total of completed chapters to 3. There's one other that's done but awaiting revisions; 3 others in progress, and two (including the conclusion) that have yet to be written. Do-able in 16 days? Probably not, but it's important to make a valiant effort. Even the ones that aren't written have lots of notes, so it's not like I'm starting from a blank screen.

Posted by otto0114 at 5:14 PM

January 5, 2008

new volume on tourism geography

Tourism and Regional Development: New Pathways. Maria Giaoutzi and Peter Nijkamp, eds. Oxford UP, 2006.

Focus on intersection of tourism, information technologies, and regional development. Sounds pretty au courant!

Review in PG November 07 by Stephen Hanna says the contributions are very quantitative-driven, and (as he says unfortunately) there is only one chapter on critical tourism studies, which misinterprets, oversimplifies and fails to account for newer extensions of, the tourist gaze approach to analysis. That chapter is by Lila Leontidou. Hanna writes that "several authors using this approach have retheorized the relationships among representation, experience, memory, and commodification to recognize that the resulting tourism places and practices are far from static" (557). Leotidou in Hanna's assessment is not one of them.
Methods chapters are said to be good for researchers and advanced students.

I am thinking about this because I need to be clear about where I am situated in academic tourism geography. "As far away as possible" is probably not a strategically acceptable answer during a defense!

Posted by otto0114 at 11:04 AM · books to read

December 8, 2007

whispers from the gulag; the death of utopia

Orlando Figes, who teaches history somewhere in the UK, has just published a massive tome on families of the disappeareds during Stalinism. I am looking forward to reading it even if it's 740 pp. If you go to his website you can read transcripts of some of the interviews - amazing stuff. The one I was reading was 90 pp, which was too bad, because in an abridgement of about 20 pp you could really try to get the essence of life in this time and really communicate it to students. Communism is already too long ago for undergrads to care - so strange to me, when I've spent so much of my academic life trying to explain the horrors of World War I.

His book is The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia.

My other possible-read is Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, by John Gray. As reviewed in the New York Times, it sounds similar to Friedman's Lexus and Olive Tree: fundamentalist Islam and Western triumphalism are two aspects of the same thing. I like his contrarianism about neoliberalism and I like how all the forms of fundamentalism (including free-marketism) are according to the reviewer "an essentially utopian impulse derived from an Enlightenment notion of progress....There is no reason to think that politics or morality can progress in the same way." Thank you, Scott McLemee; I could not agree more.

I should like to read these both. On a beach, in a warm place, over Christmas. THAT, alas, is not to be. I am hoping there is more time to read in the spring semester. I am feeling out of practice.

Posted by otto0114 at 5:05 PM