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Posts from the ‘804’ Category

this matters…

January 14, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Over break I became a reading machine, hopeful that if I ingested enough of other people’s brilliance I’d finally be able to give legs to all the amorphous thesis ideas that have been floating around my head this fall. Turns out, there aren’t quite legs to but I have sent out enough tentative shoots and connections that I’m fairly confident at some point in the near future I’ll have enough courage to write an email to my adviser saying summarizing my thoughts and seeing how they check out by someone with a larger vantage point. (By “near future” I most likely mean probably that I’ll write my ideas in my 2015 Christmas card as every time I think I have reached something that feels right a new tweet appears, I serendipitously encounter a new article, or I lose a few weeks of my life to whatever the flavor of the day work crises happens to be afoot. : )

But anyways, over break I did a lot of investigating on arts-based research, remixed dissertations, and generally people who were doing things that were a little fringe and a lot awesome. I really really want to follow in this pathway with what I do and the only thing stopping me (well, apart from the whole topic thing) is that deep down, I kind of love writing. Like really love it and think in some perverse way spending a long time writing something massive would be terrible and magnificent at the same time. So, I want to follow the arts-based pathway but there’s a pretty solid chance I’ll still be writing lots but hopefully can integrate some other stuff in as well.

One person I found particularly interesting in this journey was Nick Sousanis. Nick is probably the first person ever to do his total dissertation in comic format and….it. is. amazing. His premise is that the world of academia/education has become very flat because it’s so focused on the written word and so divorced from the visual/embodied experience of being a human. His thesis is a look at visual literacy and even more a call to re-evaluate people as actual people whose perceptions, senses, etc require a holistic approach rather than the continued deification of word only. It’s provocative and I think very timely as with so much technology now and people “becoming their own designers” and images being seen worldwide, those who know how to use words are powerful but true power lies in the cohesive and considered pairing of words and images. Much like graphic design….hahaaa….not that I’m biased or anything.

Nick’s dissertation is being published by Harvard University Press in the spring which is crazy amazing. I think his work has opened and will continue to open so many new doors to people with excellent ideas but who may have formerly been outside of academia or at most on its fringe. I know for me I’m ready to write him into my acknowledgements page because, though I’ve not yet read his book, from what I’ve seen its a total discipline-bending piece, equally academic treatise/coffee table marvel/hipster philosophical book club. Best of all it ennobles comics and shows that yes indeed, this is important work.

So…my new goal is to figure out how I can craft a unique discipline-bending flow of my own into my work. I already kind of want to appropriate his “unflattening” idea into my own piece and since we’re now Twitter pals I’m sure he will be cool with it. Now to find just what will populate this discipline-bending work of genius……

and so it begins once more….

January 13, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

…then the first day of the new term comes and all the bravado I had about getting pre-reading done for the first two weeks and thinking all this will come easily since I already am in a position of leadership fades quickly into a churning sea of deep uncertainty and…if I’m totally honest…deep insecurity. It turns out day dreaming about something that’s surrounded by the safe buffer of “future” is one thing but jumping headlong into it when it becomes “present” is something entirely different.

804 has officially begun. 804. Which means 801, 802, and 803 are all in the books, complete. Which means I’m so fully a second year, have committed so much of myself to this both mentally and financially and…there’s pretty much no going back. On the positive side, 804 means I’ve had enough classes in my experience that I am a bit more mentally prepared. I know that the feels of nausea and being an impostor and nearly reflex reaction of wanting to curl up into the fetal position until summer won’t kill me (and indeed it is possibly to type while in a posture that almost approximates the fetal position.) In addition I know that the truth is I do have what it takes and over the past 18 months there have been some pretty hefty deposits from much more sage academics into the bank of my own budding self-image as an academic.

So, off I go once more….into the unknown of 804 with my own little metaphorical knapsack of encouraging notes, ideas in tiny sprout form, and brimming flask of whiskey. And so to my my sister and brother in the cohort 6 community this term: May the road be scenic. May our fellow travelers be friendly. May the places along the way be hospitable. May the words be ever in our favor.

2015 and back to it…

January 6, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Woohoo! New Year! Time for renewed blogging resolutions, right? Every day writing! Every day reflecting! Every month great American novel composing because I wake up an hour early and write my little heart out with tender, sensitive, academic prose! Who’s in???


Not me.


And not because I’m not a great dreamer but rather because I know the tole my 15 day run of academic writing took on me way back in November. It was legit a great experience but that coupled with lots of 803 assignments and working like a maniac in my day job made me run dry on words. By dry I don’t mean just no longer clever or witty but dry like in the last few days before break it almost physically hurt to form sentences in emails because the words were just gone. I have a feeling this may be what thesis writing will feel like. If so…eeek. But, good news is a two week long holiday break later filled with lots of reading, lots of sleeping, lots of eating, and lots of drinking, the word bucket is once more filled up and ready to be parceled out on the little neglected blog.

804 begins next week (I think….since the 803 disaster I’ve become a little less cognizant of actual start dates and have taken a more “it will begin when it begins” approach) and as a way to start things off our instructor asked us to take a short survey reflecting on what we want out of the class (or our goals/what will be a “win” for us), our experiences in leadership (or what sort of baggage we’re bringing to the class), and anything we think that she should know about the cohort that will make all of our lives easier in the next term.

I think it’s a fabulous idea to do the whole reflection thing before anything gets started. Our prof this term is the head of the department so I suppose it only follows that she’s got more vested into the program thus might make a better showing than a certain previous prof who shall remain nameless. She also gave us the first two weeks readings so we could all be prepped up for the first day, whenever that might be. I’ve never done pre-reading for a class but given that I had time and was word starved, I did it and it’s been great so far. Even if the class nosedives from here, I’ve taken enough good stuff from the readings thus far to set me on a good path. So, overall verdict is thus far…all the good feels for 804.

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