Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Realization about Writing a Dissertation

After reading Meagan's last post, and after struggling with fears of my own . . . I just buckled down and started to write. It wasn't good writing, but I wrote nonetheless. I wrote about the history of the NCAA, about corruption in collegiate sports, about myths (that aren't really myths) in Division I-A athletics. I wrote about the value of education and how socioeconomic status can factors one's educational preparedness, how race is a part of this, and how high school student-athletes, those who typically need the most help, often have the least experienced teachers. I wrote about 60 pages of work I can't use in this dissertation (at least I can't use it right now).

It took 60 pages of writing to realize that I hadn't written about writing, about the teaching of writing, student writing or anything else that my dissertation is really all about. I got sucked into the machine of college athletics.

That has been the process for me, though. I initially thought I would sit down at the computer and that fairly decent prose would pour out of my body onto the screen or paper. I thought that my writing would be focused and specific because I'd been working at this information for so long. I thought wrong. I think I had to go through the process of writing about these background issues in detail-- in a sense purging them from my mind-- before I could get to the heart of my thesis, the teaching of writing to underprepared student athletes at NCAA-ranked Division I-A institutions.

In a way I feel the time was wasted, but I know it wasn't. That writing time and the pages of prose are important. I can use them later in something else, or I can endnote a bunch of it. If nothing else, it's out of my head so I can focus on the real subject of my dissertation.

Cross posted at PartsnPieces.

Friday, May 18, 2007

if you get a minute...

Mike over at Vitia has posed a question about high-stakes writing. seeing as how a number of us will or have recently sat for our comps, i figured that we all know a thing or two about high-stakes writing...

Monday, May 14, 2007

New to the Boot Camp, But Not to Dissertating

Hi everyone. I took up Billie's suggestion and decided that it would be helpful to post my progress and carouse with the other dissertating soldiers here. I'm in Rhet/Comp and have been developing a rhetorical theory focused on motivating people to intervene by applying psychological studies to rhetoric. Then I examine what this rhetorical theory means in three sites: an activist site, the site of writing for intervention, and the writing classroom.

I was lucky and got a really neat post-doc-type job for next year, so I have to hurry up and graduate in August. I've managed, actually, to turn in second drafts of all the chapters to my advisor. She's gotten me back three chapters, which I'll turn over to my readers this week. It's a crazy process. For a long time I was working and working and working and never feeling like I got anywhere. Then suddenly things were getting done.

My readers have very little time to turn things around. And I've been working crazily every day. In fact, the only reason I sound at all calm right now is that I am ready to send out my chapters to my readers, and my advisor hasn't gotten the other chapters back to me yet. So I'm actually in a lull. For the first time in ages, there's no reading or writing to be done. I could read for fun. I could write a poem. Of course, I'm watching TV. It feels luxurious. I can't wait until this is O-V-E-R.

Good to be here with the other PhreakeD out people!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

As the semester winds down

Hi, All.

I hope that you're all finishing up the semester, and it's going smoothly. It's great to see that some are finishing up, too!

I think that the stars have been in alignment for me lately. I did finish my prospectus, defended it, and got it filed. I went through 15 distinct drafts, plus a bunch of smaller changes. My topic is still basically the same, except I've got new research sites, and new data to collect. So, this summer should be very busy--and exciting. Unfortunately, with so little time, I could not come up with a good title for the study, but I can still work on it for the diss. defense, I guess. The new title is "Classical rhetoric as a theoretical lens for understanding multimodal composing practices at four sites of digital composing." I'm still working to bring multimodal studies into conversation with classical rhetoric, and gesture and embodiment will still be important. My revised research questions are:

  1. How is the female body constructed in digital multimodal environments?
  2. How can a classical rhetorical reading help to account for multimodal composing?
  3. What are the limits to constructions of the female body, or representing material bodies in digital multimodal environments?

Thanks to everyone for their support through this, and for sharing examples of your prospectuses, too. Have a great Mother's Day, or at least a nice day off.

Monday, May 7, 2007

I Am, Too

Way to go, elle!

I've just got a little proofreading left.

Here's a few things I found while finishing up.

It's apparently not all that unusual to have a bit of an identity crisis right after you send your dissertation off to your committee. Sort of a "What do I do now? Why did I do this in the first place? What does it all mean? Who am I?" kind of thing.

Along those same lines, it's apparently not all that unusual to feel like you're turning in something incomplete--something that's not as good as it could or should be. You have to remind yourself that it's NOT done, right? This is just a really good draft of your future spectacular book.

Big, big surprise...dissertation defenses don't have to be terrible! Mine was just a really useful conversation with five highly intelligent and talented people who seem to want me to succeed. It was almost...dare I say, pleasant? I think the key is to make sure everyone on your committee is balanced and sane. I have a great advisor whom I trust enormously, and I basically let her decide who should be on the committee. Turned out to be the best move.

Even if the defense goes well, you still manage to find stuff to fret about afterwards--like, did I say something stupid when they took me to lunch afterwards? Did they notice the massive run that appeared in my stockings five minutes before the defense started? Could they tell I was sweating?

All of the anxieties and uncertainties wear away within days after the defense, however, and then you get to bask in the glow of a completed dissertation...at least until the job list comes out.

One last thought...If I can finish a dissertation, anyone can. I'm not kidding. It's nice if you're brilliant (something I've never claimed to be) but the real key is to be persistent.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I Am


Mostly :-)