Monday, January 18, 2010

It all starts tomorrow!

So ... tomorrow. The first day of the new semester. This semester isn't exactly like semesters in the past. After spending all of last semester writing a prospectus for my doctoral research, I am now spending this semester doing all the research. And this makes me nervous! What if I mess up my collection of data? What happens if I realize that my proposed hypothesis doesn't work? (I've left a short description of my data in a sidebar to the right, by the way!).

So there is at least one word anyone who reads this blog needs to understand: My dissertation is an "ethnography" -- the study of human social phenomena and communities, primarily through the method of field research (taking detailed observation notes, interviewing, etc.). You basically live among the people you are researching. In my case, I will be "living" with my students in the same classroom for 16 weeks and I will document how the two classes deal with such a loaded topic as race and how it affects their thinking and writing. Just FYI: We English types actually "stole" this method of research from the anthropologists -- personally, I like the "readability" of such research; you as the researcher become an integral part of the analysis.

On a somewhat related topic -- Yesterday I went to the race exhibit that just opened up at the Missouri History Museum called "Race: Are We So Different?" -- though race has no biological basis (little difference in genes among different "races") -- race is a powerful concept that shapes how we see people and our world. Here is the direct link to the exhibit: http://www.mohistory.org/node/2850 I was relieved when I went through it yesterday that much of the information centers around texts and scholars that I am familiar with -- so ... maybe I will be more comfortable with the loaded topic of race as I help my students become better college writers (I was afraid I would walk through the exhibit and have no idea what was going on!).

But in the meantime, how will I spend my last day of "leisure"? Well, I have already been to the gym pounding out miles on the elliptical even though my feet are killing me (Plantar Fasciitus woes!). And now Jim and I are going to meet our pals Peggy and Gene at the Chase Park Plaza to see the Colin Firth film, "A Single Man." All I know is that the film is about an English professor and it stars Colin Firth. What else do I need to know?! (Colin Firth is downright to sexiest man EVER -- OK, maybe the second sexiest next to my husband!).

LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: Wow. The film was fabulous. I think it's one of those stories that just stay with you, long after you left the theater (I MUST read the book!). I was shocked at the ending -- and even cried a little. Not sure if those was the uplift that I needed nefore the semester starts! (though Jim and I went to Cupcakery before coming home -- they make the BEST Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes -- http://www.cravethecup.com/)

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