diss

coming back to life, research edition

I spent the bulk of yesterday shaping up an abstract of some research to submit to a collection, the one coming out of the Watson Conference. It was tougher than I expected. As I was trying to piece it all together, I began to feel the way I did when writing my dissertation: the desire for it to be good, the thrill of watching something I've been working on for about a year possibly evolve into publication. But I also felt strangely confident about what I was saying--not always how I was saying it, but comfortable with the research and with my take on things. The trouble was trying to articulate some very layered ideas, which seem so connected and obvious for me because I'm so close to the project and yet, I knew I needed to do more work to connect the dots for others.

I turned to my editor and all around girl in my corner for help and she asked me enough questions to smooth the whole thing together. I ended up feeling okay about it and just hope it gels with the scope of the other research submitted.

In an incredibly stressed out from the dissertation moment I remember asking one of my profs, one who always tells it like it is, if research ever became fun again. She said it did and I responded, "I'm looking forward to that day." Well, friends, I'm beginning to feel excited about a couple of projects again. Things are coming together in really cool ways. I'm going to try and get IRB approval to use my students' work from next semester as I'm teaching a course related to my new project and see if anything interesting presents itself. For now, I'm focused on getting the webtext together for the collection and if it isn't accepted, I'll send it a few other places. I'm waiting to hear whether or not I was approved for a student fellow to collaborate with me on the design and programming aspects. So, while it is probably boring for you to read about; I'm terribly excited about all of these possibilities.

And I'm relieved that I'm finding my way back to this work. I remember getting into my Frankenstein project, how it consumed me. It felt like waking up from a very long but not exactly restful sleep. This process feels a bit better but still has the coming back to life effect.

Also Top Chef is back on, which makes me v. happy AND

on a completely unrelated note Supernatural is getting so good. Spoilery stuff follows I know a lot of fans prefer less mythology episodes but I'd been dying to know what happened all those months Dean was in hell.

SPOILER ALERT:

OMG, Sam and Ruby... HOT!

acknowledgments

Because not all of you will be burdened with reading my dissertation I decided to reprint my acknowledgments section here so that those of you who have been included will be aware of your influence and how much I appreciate you.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I looked forward to writing this section of my dissertation before I began writing chapters not only because it would signal completion but also because it gives me an opportunity to recognize those without whom the document you are holding would have been nearly impossible. As academics and writers we do not work alone. So many people have contributed to my growth as a student, intellectual and as a person. This dissertation is about intersections of identity and nowhere are the intersections of my life more evident than in the diverse and wonderful people who share it with me.

For those of you who have lived this dissertation along with me, who not only stood by me but became interwoven into the project, I cannot express to you the depth of my heartfelt thanks. I have not made it an easy year for those close to me and I appreciate all of your support and kindness when I needed it most.

Michelle, you create the gravity for all that I do. I often say that you make things matter to me, things I would not notice because I’m so busy rattling around in my head. Thank you seems a small sentiment to offer in exchange for your steadfast belief that I can accomplish great things. You are my North Star.

Marie, who acted as my fourth committee member, you have taught me so much about friendship, about scholarship, about teaching. So many of my favorite stories begin with you. From the moment we met, we’ve been in the trenches together. I can’t imagine a better friend to have by my side when things go dark. This work is just as much yours as it is mine.

Oren, thank you for answering your phone even at odd hours, and for the late night conversations along with the constant reminders that finishing this dissertation was possible. You helped me get my voice back and for that I am forever grateful. I share with you my homeland and I hope you recognize how our talks about home factor into my understandings here.

Joe, who has known many sides of me, who helped me hone my creative side and who is always willing to listen. You have given more than you know to this project, to our friendship. And I thank you for being along for the ride.

It has been a great privilege to spend the past five years in the Department of English. I have benefited greatly from the generosity and support of many faculty members throughout my time here. Dr. Bob McLaughlin challenged my notions of how a story could be told. I will be forever grateful for his kindness during my first Ph.D. literature course. The project I began in his course has developed in both direct and indirect ways into this dissertation.

Dr. Hilary Justice was instrumental in my progress. She taught me to trust myself as I explored intersections that seemed to make me vulnerable. Our lunch conversations during my comprehensive semester rescued me. I consider myself fortunate to have studied with Dr. Justice both on an intellectual and personal level.

Dr. Amy Robillard deeply affected my narrative style. She taught me that narrative and academic writing not only work in tandem but belong together. Though not directly involved with this project on a day-to-day basis, her influence is ever-present.

The members of my dissertation committee have been remarkable. Whether they were spending time in the middle of an airport to talk about my project or quickly turning around drafts, I felt constantly supported by Dr. Jim Kalmbach, Dr. Lee Brasseur and Dr. Jan Neuleib. My relationships with each of them began early in my Ph.D. program. Some of my fondest memories in intellectual development took place in their classes. It is easy to see the intersections of my study through my committee members and my work in and outside of their classrooms.

Throughout my time in the English Department, Dr. Jim Kalmbach has displayed boundless enthusiasm in numerous roles: Professor, designer, Associate Chair, mentor, dissertation director. He is adept at working with students and faculty, simultaneously. I presented quite a challenge to Jim as I am opinionated and strong-willed and we often were at odds through the dissertation process. What I have learned from Jim cannot possibly fit on the page. I discovered my professional identity from him as he worked to help me cultivate my place within the field of Computers and Writing. I appreciate his insights and his optimism. I am forever changed as a teacher and as a human being for having worked with Dr. Kalmbach.

Special thanks go to my family, particularly my mother who has been unwavering in her belief in me since I first put pen to paper. My mother taught me to read but my father taught me that words have power. Together, my parents taught me how to make language soar and they never expect any less from me. My grandmother, whose financial support has made these five years possible and whose undeniable grace astounds me, still can’t pronounce Illinois but her encouragement is limitless. I also want to thank my brother for helping me with the formatting guidelines for this dissertation and for all the ways he reminds me that home, is what you make of it.

And to all the people and places that have been home to me as I wrote and revised: the coffeehouses and restaurants, bookstores and workplaces, I thank you.