All posts by richonda

Digital Humanities: What Is It and Setting an Agenda

DH

 

So, I found the two texts for this week’s reading to be overwhelming, which is the opposite of what I had expected. I have some beginner’s knowledge of the digital humanities and what it is, but not enough to be able to understand some of what was included in these articles. The first piece, ” What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” by Matthew Kirschenbaum, was a very thorough introduction to digital humanities and its history in how it came to be. While reading the first article, it felt like I was watching one of those documentary-style videos of a timeline  of the history of a particular topic with a narrator’s voice in my ear the entire time going through important dates, years, and names and just relaying general information to me.

When I got around to reading the second piece, “The Literary, the Humanistic, the Digital: Toward a Research Agenda for Digital Literary Studies” by Julia Flanders, could almost act as a continuation from the first piece going int more depth about what I would like to know regarding the digital humanities, but didn’t quite help because of the unfamiliar jargon throughout. By the end of the article, Flanders was posing “next-step questions” that I thought would’ve been answered within her article. It seems Flanders put together a matter-of-fact article that just got started into telling its readers how to get this thing called Digital Humanities off of the ground and into real live action. Now, I am sure that all of what I read can probably be explained in a more clear and concise way; I have a feeling that once Hailey and Marissa give their presentation and speak on this topic, I will be able to make connections in my head and it won’t be as complicated.

From my understanding, though, the digital humanities seems like a very vast branch of the humanities that seeks ways to incorporate technology/media into the learning and writing processes. I can be a bit off with this understanding, but I am aware of the shifts that have been made as far as ebooks, electronic literature, analyzing digital culture, and computers with composition. All of these aspects and more seem to be at the forefront of what digital humanities is working with in terms of finding ways to have computers/technology/media improve and enhance humanities as it exists today. It is very important work that I admire, and wish to know more about. I feel I am also taking my part in contributing to this field with my contributions thus far a s a graduate student and I hope to continue to grow and learn as much as I can by the time that I graduate.


Digital Humanities: What Is It and Setting an Agenda

DH

 

So, I found the two texts for this week’s reading to be overwhelming, which is the opposite of what I had expected. I have some beginner’s knowledge of the digital humanities and what it is, but not enough to be able to understand some of what was included in these articles. The first piece, ” What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” by Matthew Kirschenbaum, was a very thorough introduction to digital humanities and its history in how it came to be. While reading the first article, it felt like I was watching one of those documentary-style videos of a timeline  of the history of a particular topic with a narrator’s voice in my ear the entire time going through important dates, years, and names and just relaying general information to me.

When I got around to reading the second piece, “The Literary, the Humanistic, the Digital: Toward a Research Agenda for Digital Literary Studies” by Julia Flanders, could almost act as a continuation from the first piece going int more depth about what I would like to know regarding the digital humanities, but didn’t quite help because of the unfamiliar jargon throughout. By the end of the article, Flanders was posing “next-step questions” that I thought would’ve been answered within her article. It seems Flanders put together a matter-of-fact article that just got started into telling its readers how to get this thing called Digital Humanities off of the ground and into real live action. Now, I am sure that all of what I read can probably be explained in a more clear and concise way; I have a feeling that once Hailey and Marissa give their presentation and speak on this topic, I will be able to make connections in my head and it won’t be as complicated.

From my understanding, though, the digital humanities seems like a very vast branch of the humanities that seeks ways to incorporate technology/media into the learning and writing processes. I can be a bit off with this understanding, but I am aware of the shifts that have been made as far as ebooks, electronic literature, analyzing digital culture, and computers with composition. All of these aspects and more seem to be at the forefront of what digital humanities is working with in terms of finding ways to have computers/technology/media improve and enhance humanities as it exists today. It is very important work that I admire, and wish to know more about. I feel I am also taking my part in contributing to this field with my contributions thus far a s a graduate student and I hope to continue to grow and learn as much as I can by the time that I graduate.


Narratives and Interviews

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.53.34 PMThe first article for this week (that is to be presented by my classmate, Hope) was a very interesting sort of how-to article titled “Writing a Narrative” by Andrea Lunsford, Michal Body, Lisa Ede, Beverley Moss, Carole Clark Papper, and Keith Walters. The authors recount very detailed and precise ways to go about a narrative after explaining what it is, and providing examples of several successful attempts of narratives in many different forms and from a plethora of genres/circumstances. I was able to take away a lot from this article for my own creative work in a very general sense. This article is practical and useful when generating creative content; it provides great guiding questions and doesn’t seem to leave its reader mystified as to what to do next. In more detail, the article providing tips and advice as far as making sure readers understand that setting, point of view, the kind of medium being written in etc. are all crucial to one’s process. What sort of larger picture/context can the narrator bring forth from what they are writing about? Why is their topic significant?

I will say that in my personal experience, and what I have learned thus far, I won’t say that I learned anything new, but there are many more people out there that need this kind of article right alongside what they are working on to better help them with pacing and generating content. With that being said, I also don’t always remember everything, so keeping something like this article for my own use will greatly help when I need a refresher when it comes to my work. I have gotten to the point in my own creative process where it is becoming almost second nature to ask myself these questions not only because I have actually had a mazing professors who encouraged me to think in this way, but also because with technology constantly advancing the way that it does it is almost inevitable that I will have to keep asking myself these kinds of starter questions because change is always at rise. If one part of a machine constantly changes what it does and the job that it does varies then other parts of the same machine will titled
have to adjust and work accordingly, right? Maybe this wasn’t such an effective example, but I think I’ve pretty much spelled it out.

Moving along to the second article, “Writing About People”comesScreen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.53.02 PM from a larger text On Writing Well by William Zinsser. This excerpt gives the very essence of what an interview is, can be, and how to get there. It reminded me of the “What Not to do at a Stoplight” bit of a spongebob episode. “Writing About People” was straightforward and didn’t seem to spend too much time telling the truth “slant” as Emily Dickinson would say. I immediately found myself agreeing with the author as the excerpt explains the importance and beauty of quoting a person correctly, and it was simply because “as soon as a writer steps in, everyone else’s experiences become secondhand” (“Writing About People”, p.100). I was pulled to think about the ways in which I find myself and others of my generation speaking, and that would be in quotes and long drawn out recounts (verbatim) of what someone said in a play, movie, TV show, song etc.

The excerpt then takes us into “the human element” stating so eloquently how even behind a seemingly dreary brick building can be traces of lives from all walks of life. There is a human element to everything we encounter as people, and that is what makes this world special. The piece gets deeper into the nuances of interviewing specifically when tape recorders come into question. Now, yes, I understand the hesitations that came into play for the author such as practicality (one will more likely come into having a pencil more often than not vs. a tape recorder), as well as sticking to this notion of being a true writer and actually writing and doing one’s work in front of the interviewee. Let’s keep in mind, though, that the most recent publication date (per the copied version we are reading from) is 1998, and it would make sense that some sort of hesitance occurred when it came to a form of technology.

My same fear of the interviewee talking too fast was addressed in this excerpt and the advised solution didn’t really go past telling the person who is talking to stop and then resume. To me, this abrupt pause not only disrupts flow, but inherently makes one lose track of what one is saying. I know I would. This can be a minor hinderance, but still. Being able to refer back to a recorded version gives more archivable artifacts, as well as alternative options for storing and accusing the information even if it isn’t the form you pull from most for whatever end-product is being worked on.

This excerpt from On Writing Well by William Zinger may have much to do with my work for my thesis, since it is comprised of mostly talking about people (through verse). I have no idea if I will interview people in the near future, but it is definitely a possibly and my work can thrive from it, but it all depends on the direction in which the project feels itself going. I am going to lend myself to it… not the other way around. Overall, this second reading was useful as much as the first one was. I like the warnings and the “it’s okay” feel of the piece as it addressed many of the obstacles first timers may see when beginning their interviewing journeys. I didn’t really find myself having questions afterward, but then again, I only read it once. 🙂

 

Literature Review Process

How is my literature review going? That is a great question because I would like to know myself! To be serious, I have having trouble finding motivation and TIME to do the research I so desperately need to do. I am worried, but not worried at the same time because I know that I am diligent and determined and will get it done. On the other hand, I want this research proposal to be over (saying this is the most positive way I can).


Social Action & Service Learning

This week, my class and I had the pleasure of getting to read two article that Stephanie chose for her presentation. I will say that both articles were interesting and engaging, but ultimately didn’t give as much as I oped that they would. It is inevitable that change is upon us and its necessary considering the current economic and political climate the world has found itself in. The discussions that need to be ongoing seem to be starting and stopping to say the least. I am glad that Stephanie chose this kind of overarching topic as it is both stimulating and timely.

The first article, “Principles for Practice: What is Social Action?” by Jennie Fleming and Ian Boulton began simply defining social action within the context that the authors were going to discuss is (more as a methodology for in-class teaching vs. society’s traditional view of the term). I chalked this article up to be about the ways in which educators can get students motivated and interested in the work that they are doing as learners and activists (whether they openly identify as activist or not… but they are!). The second article that I will mention later has the same message, to me, but talks more about service learning. I liked the idea in this first article about the inclusive nature of the practice of social action in the classroom, and how everything begins WITH the student. The authors point out that the process starts with the student’s understanding and replies on their endeavors.

I do agree with the authors in that anyone (if they are so inclined and willing) have the opportunity to create social change. I was even more ecstatic that Paolo Freire was brought into discussion. I usually always allude, at some point, to his work The Banking Concept of Education to get some point across. The banking concept mainly got across the theory that students are like receptacles that take in all of the information that educators *cough* oppressors already know and are going to relay unto them. basically, students aren’t collaborators with their teachers/professors; they are looked at as the individuals they do not possess the knowledge so they must have it bestowed upon them.

WRONG!

Any who, I appreciate the diagram of how social action is carried out: What, Why, How, Action, and Reflection. This is a straightforward way to get students thinking in a new way about the things that are going on around them. An attentiveness to awareness is crucial with the progression of life itself. I keep thinking back to the amazing Letters to the President project that Stephanie mentioned she did with her class and her joyous reactions and responses to how they were doing with that project. I felt she had understood that that project made an impact. Her students WANTED to do it, and more importantly they felt like they could… like they had a voice… like they mattered! They do! I feel that is a perfect example right there of the ways in which educators can start to incorporate these concepts into the classroom and get students motivated to learn again, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Speaking of motivation, I would like to move (briefly) into the last article I read for this week which was “Service and Self-Renewal: Service Learning as a Means to Invigorate and Renew Teachers” by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Whitney Douglas, and Sara W. Fry. An excerpt from Ralph Peterson showed up in this chapter from the authors, and he expressed some thoughts about the way humans learn and what it has to do with. Peterson stated that “the way we learn… has to mean something” (p. 111). I couldn’t agree more, and I wrote in my journal that I took notes in: “!!Motivation!!” because that is what it is all about. Now, this article didn’t really explain what service learning was, and I was disappointed by this. It gave all the reasons as to why service learning can be beneficial, but I wanted a set definition for what it is and what it means. Furthermore, the article gave examples of how this was taking place in schools and with families, which was great, but I found myself wanting more from this article too.

As aforementioned, I felt like this article could be chalked up to being about the ways in which educators can get students motivated and interested in the work that they are doing. The article touched on students being collaborators and engaged learned and Dr. Zamora’s (my professor) lovely face appeared in my head because I know she is for this and I personally experience this kind of identification and growth within myself as a student just from knowing her for the time that I have. Moving along, other than the 3 possible approaches teachers can use to implement this kind of learning in the classroom, there were two other highlights that I thought were very important. The first highlight was that of the idea of introducing new forms of learning, and how teachers are automatically set up to fail in some way or another. This is so important to note, and unfortunately, so common.

There was a discussion in class about this, and I believe Stephanie and MaryKate were the ones to bring it up where they alluded to the system (a particular school, education system, and its curriculum) having influence on what is able to be done/get done in that location. Stephanie alluded to hang more leeway to try out things with her students where MaryKate does not have the same benefits. There is a lot that has to go into being able to introduce something new to students, and it far exceeds having a willing and exciting teacher to do it. There are constraints. The second highlight was the section of the chapter that talked about connecting with parents. I feel like this is such a cliche phrase, but “learning starts at home”. This is true. However, learning should start at home and be an on-going process. Stephanie mentioned in discussion once that some parents put sole responsibility onto the teacher and that’s a lot of pressure. Learning starts and stops at school for some students, but that is an epidemic that needs to be stopped in the areas where it is far too present.

Overall, reading about service learning was insightful and I feel like I DID learn, but I found myself asking “So, what now?” after reading these article. I am now excited to learn more and do more, but I don’t feel like I have enough information or know of necessary tools to begin after reading both sections, which is okay… I just have to do more research now. I feel lien the authors could have done more. The examples towards the end of


To Be or Not to Be: That Is the Question

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I found it very difficult to begin to write my introduction. I am still not sure if I am getting across the idea of my thesis correctly. I was able to get to two pages, but I am certain that this draft will need to be gone over with a fine tooth comb. I feel there is not enough explanation in how writing fits into this, and I am still working with that part of this myself even though I know that writing is at the center of everything that I am doing. I never thought that it would be so hard to articulate that. Despite my anxiety, and all of the obstacles I am sure to face in these beginning stages, I know without a doubt that my whole heart is in this concept, and that is the most important thing to me. I am excited at the thought of others being able to witness and experience what is for me such a vulnerable outpouring of all that I am in a poetic electronic literature piece. I am determined to put forth my best effort in this process no matter what.

 

Link to my proposal draft

thesis


Critical Literacies & Fanfic

AHHHHHHH! I am extremely excited to write about MaryKate’s two readings for her presentation tonight. I did not have as much time I wanted to dive into them fully, so I may be updating this post later on if I am able to go back to these readings again. However, what I received from them in the short amount of time that I had was pleasant and knowledge-filled.

YA Lit .jpgIn “Developing Student’s Critical Literacy: Exploring Identity Construction in Young Adult Fiction” by Thomas Bean and Karen Moni was the article that I was able to get more out of because I read it in its entirety. I was waiting for this topic for a very long time because it directly correlates with something that I hold near and dear to my heart, which is young adult fiction/literature. In addition, much of the work that I have produced in my time here is a graduate student has to do with identity construction through narrowed contexts.

One of the first ideas that jumped out at me was the feeling of connectedness with protagonists in a particular work, and that feeling of relatability when their lives are paralleled wth my own. Most of my pre-teen and teenage years were saved because I had these characters to relate to. I didn’t look up to my own family members as much as I did with these characters, and for a long time that was a part of my identity and also partly the reason why I have Stars Hollow resident (Gilmore Girls) written in my twitter bio.

There was an area in the text where Thomas and Moni stated, “Through discussion of such choices, students may also better understand how they are being constructed as adolescents in the texts and how such constructions compare with their own attempts to form their identities” (pg. 639). I think the teaching of being critical with any work is very pertinent in a young individual’s life. Learning to think critically about what I read not only set me up to be able to identify what kind of reader I was, but to also be able to fix myself within the greater context of society as what kind of person I was. I was aware of my identity because I had such great instruction. To know how to break things down to find out how they work and/or do not is essential in life, so I completely concur with what is being said here.

The authors go on and get into a discussion of struggling readers, and how the work that they are presented with isn’t necessarily up to par with that of their “higher-level” counterparts. The article, in that particular spot, reminded me of the lessons taught by the NIH certification that our class just did regarding treatment with human-based research studies. In this case, I think it is fair to say that all students (even those who struggle as readers) need equitable AND equal treatment. To make sure that their treatment and assessment is fair is one thing, but to strive to ensure that it is equal with others is another. I think they deserve both and I feel the authors are striving for this as well.

Overall, it was interesting to me how I was reading the article. I kept forgetting that Thomas and Moni were honing in on Australian students. So much of myself and my life was in that article that it was hard to separate my own identity from it. I believe that reading texts and what is being described as critical literacy can become joyous for students with correct instruction that is unique in its own right and is almost fun in a way. I had the teachers that taught me to pick apart a text to be able to explain it from different perspectives of characters within the story. I had the teachers that allowed me to “manipulate” and derive several different implications from one text, so I am grateful for my experience and hope that this kind of instruction is still happening even if it is only growing in an unhurried manner; it absolutely has to be there.

fanfiction.jpg

I wasn’t necessarily able to get too far into the second article “Online FanFiction, Global Identities, and Imagination” by Rebecca Black, but from reading my classmate’s blog posts and through discussion with my peers the themes in this text are very relevant and pertinent. I liked the idea of having the stories of english language learners told in this article regarding how their own identity is constructed, and how some turned to fan fiction  communities to strengthen their abilities. There are still people and places that do not recognize fan fiction as an appropriate medium in education, but it definitely has much to offer in way student’s are developing mentally, constructing their identities, and improving their skills.

I found myself drawn to reach for a parallel here with the Young Writer’s Project, which is a group of young individuals that I learned about in another course that I am taking this semester. I realized that this platform that was created for young writers are actually partaking in this very progressive idealization of what Rebecca Black is speaking about, and the fact that they are already situated within this digital age and amongst the technologies to network together, and that is huge! I felt that these two readings for this week really complimented each other in the right way even if one of them seemed even more outdated than the other one. I found that I was able to take away a great deal from both of the articles.


Thinking More About What I am Thinking About

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Ahh this wonderful thing we call the invention process comes up as my class vigorously brainstorms for our theses. I am excited, but also very apprehensive about this journey that I about to dive into for the next year (starting with my research proposal). As I have stated in my class a couple of times, I want my thesis to be an extension of my e lit project from last semester when I took Introduction to Electronic Literature. I came into the program at a weird time in my life, and although I wanted to pursue my master’s degree, I did not really understand everything that I wanted then. By the end of the Fall 2016 semester, I was in a better place and mindset regarding what I felt I needed/wanted to get out of this degree; I owe this epiphany to Dr. Zamora who has been a great light in all of this. 

Having come into this current semester from such a high point at the end of the previous one, I felt like I knew where I was going, but I was mistaken. I started to feel that everything that I had done was just useless because I didn’t see how I could connect it to writing studies. I was disappointed and hurt that I may have to set my passion project aside for some time and just do “what I needed to get by”. This was all flushed out of my mind when Dr. Zamora so eloquently explained how she was understanding what I was trying to articulate. I felt she was able to explain my own project to me in a way that I wasn’t seeing it… and it made more sense than the vastly cluttered mess in my mind.

My project is supposed to be a way into my heart about my own culture, and the gap that sits in between African-American/African people. I wanted to create empowerment through pain and a concept of exploitation to have this digital experience be at least ONE artistic vision of bridging the gap and intracultural riffs between a nation of people. While my ideas are vast in this framework, I didn’t know what to do with it moving forward. What Dr. Zamora said during our last class really helped me to put this project into perspective for my thesis and what I hope to produce as a final product when I graduate. I am hoping to bring my electronic literature piece to life in so many more ways than I had originally planned, while still having this analytical framework in print to compliment it. Ultimately, maybe I can bridge the two together.

I appreciated the comment Dr. Zamora made about a feminist approach that I can take with my project. I definitely need to think through that much more because I didn’t have a feminist mindset going into it, and so I am afraid some of the poetry already written will become obsolete, but I know there is time to think this through and flesh it out before I take on major steps in how I am going to approach the analytical side of my project. I feel it might make much more sense to stem from a post-colonial viewpoint, instead, and then hone in on some of those tropes Dr. Zamora mentioned like embodiment and inheritance. Those were some very powerful concepts that she was alluding to, and I think that if I weave all of this in with a writer identity sense then it can come together nicely.

Writer identity is a theme that keeps popping up every semester for me, and that might be the route that the project wants to go in. I mainly just want that historical aspect to be as present as possible while having my creativity and artistry through poetry shine through as well. I think my work directly correlates with identity and process, while also having that technological framework to add research about digital literacy within contexts such as this one. Maybe I can pull information about writer identity from the women that I research, as suggested by Dr. Zamora, and then fit that within the framework of what I am trying to do myself. If I start to think too generally, I get lost and so I am working right now to narrow down and get even more specific about exactly what it is that I am researching and the purpose that it is gong to play along with this digital component that I have already started.

Writing is at the core of everything that I am talking about whether it be my own writing and process, or the writing of others etc. There is a lot to be said about process in terms of writing studies and the teaching of writing, and I am trying to have this project not only be a creative vision of what I am passionate about, but also a piece of work that can be brought into discussion when it comes to writer identity and creativity in the classroom. Slowly but surely I am finding my way.

 

Peace,

Richonda 


Composition Theory and Participatory Culture

“Grounded Theory: A Critical Research Methodology” by Joyce Magnotto Neff was the first article of the two that I read in preparation of this response. We went over grounded theory in class briefly, and touched on what it meant to do that kind of research, but there was still so much up in the air about it in general. I feel like I have learned a lot about grounded theory from this article, but in no way was it enjoyable to read. However, as I began, I found it interesting that right in the beginning is where it is mentioned that research studies conducted during the 60s-80s fails to follow up with explanation in terms of the results that come from the data and the rhetorical decisions that went into the methodology. These are important things to think of, and always brings my mind back to a sentiment that my colleague, Katherine, is always alluding to: “How did they get to this?” and why researched didn’t do one thing over another.

I believe it is worthwhile to not only critique what’s happening now, but incite and suggest ideas for change, which is something that is not always present or encouraged. Candace Spigelman, as pointed out int he article, made not of this. Should this just be a given or a standard when it comes to this type of research? Moving along, I felt a little lost with certain theories and concepts presented in this work, especially when it came around to talking about the coding of data etc. (it was a lot to take in). However, I appreciated the “how to” feel of the article despite how overwhelming it was. Grounded theory, as I have learned from this article, is very much summed up as open ended or never ceasing because there is always something to go off of to get to the next thing.

In regards to the second reading, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” by Henry Jenkins, I felt myself drawn to the three problems that are alluded to as the article opens up. Before I get to those problems mentioned, though, I immediately went into the articles with questions as I began to read. I thought to myself if the article mentions or touches on the difficulties when it comes to those individuals who feel a little left out of the culture? This doesn’t necessarily have to be everyone 50 and over because there are student my age who have a hard time with technology (which made me think of the gap issue that is mentioned later as one of the problems). I like how my questions were answered.

I appreciated how Jenkins does not leave the role of teaching these new digital literacies completely to he parents or the school, but rather suggests that it should be distributed (I agree). Most of what a child knows starts at home, so why would this be an exception? Right? I also liked how to article pointed out the limitations when it came to the traditional school setting, and what can happen when students are reaching for more and the education system is sorely lacking in providing it. For as long as I can remember, some of the most powerful work in the world happened outside of the school walls and directly fought against the system. What does that say? It is all of our teacher’s faults, and neither is it the student’s fault.

Technology is at the forefront of almost everything that is done today, and that is evident from this article. What was definitely special was the point in the article where we are brought back to the discussion we hold in our classroom nonstop, and that is about creativity and how important it is in any instance that involves learning. This kind of unique expressions fosters individuals who not only think against the norm, but also challenge what they know to break barriers and discover more than they would have ever imaged. So, tell me why individuals are paying attention to this and trying to add it more to curriculums across the world? Oh right wait I forgot… we need to mass produce worker bees. In the article, it is mentioned that “it matters what tools are available to a culture”, but what is equally important and relevant to note is that it matters “what that culture chooses to do with those tools”. When the tools a system has handed out is now being used to fight that said system… there is probably an issue with the system and something needs to be done.

The participation gap is something that was taking about briefly in my professor’s other course “Digital Storytelling” and the lack of available resources someone has ABSOLUTELY plays a part in what is being seen in these cultures and communities. I don’t think enough attention is being paid to that. The ethical issue is definitely one to highlight, and in no way can I fit everything on this one blog, but with everything being much more open to the public one has to realize the challenges that poses for a group of participants who may not be trained properly for this sort of environment, and the instruction that usually comes from their elders is lost because the elders have no idea whats going on. Lastly, I am grateful for some of the practices that I have personally experienced in place that teach students about transparency online and the need to be more careful, but it is still a very relevant issue to bring up because it is not being enforced everywhere. This section in the article focuses heavily on this topic in relation to gaming, but some of the solutions given by others are a little fuzzy still. I look forward to researching more deeply about this and hopefully sparking more of a conversation outside of the classroom about this.

All in all, the two readings were definitely insightful and add much to responses needed to questions being asked for so long, but everything is a work in progress and all that can be done right now is to hope that conversations about these issues do not cease.


Empiricism and Useful Theory. Confusion and Breakthroughs.

5-sensesI am going to start this blog post by saying that I probably do not know what I am talking about. The article that I read first for this week was “Empiricism Is Not a Four-Letter Word” by Davida Charney. The first thing that I had to do was look up the word “empiricism” because I did not know what it meant, and as Stephanie (a classmate) pointed out, it is thought to be the “theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience”. I began reading the article and immediately stopped; I was not ready to feel as dumb as this article made me feel. I couldn’t really understand any of it, or make any decisions about what Charney was trying to get at. Maybe this lack of understanding came from trying to read this article during the morning, or maybe I was just not in the right state of mind, so I wasn’t really picking up what she was putting down. I was genuinely confused all the way through the article to the point where I had to read headings and skim paragraphs to see if anything stood out to me. I came across one area as I was highlighting that made me ask myself a question, so I got excited and wrote it in the margins.

The most obvious reaction is to be relieved and think that I was starting to get somewhere with this piece, but that was not how I felt at all. I started to wonder (in relation to others who highlight and write in the margins) if individuals who have a lot of highlighted portions and no handwriting in the margins really understood what they were reading. Did they highlight only because that particular part sounded important, and they thought they should highlight it? Did they highlight in agreement, but just didn’t write anything? Did that particular sentence or paragraph make sense, but nothing else? Should written comments or further evaluation in the margins be a way to measure whether that person understood what they were reading? Probably not. I went off on this tangent because I noticed I write more in the margins with scholarly articles (commenting, asking questions, and challenging) when I am able to at least understand the gist of what is being said.

The only part of this entire article that I was able to really reflect on and relate to something in my life that I understood was at the very end of the “Implications” section where Charney began to wrap things up. She states, “We should promote the publication of research that extends and refines previous work. And we should encourage reviews of previous studies that compare findings and methods in particular kinds of sites…” (Charney, 1996). What really struck me is when the author goes on to say, “The only way to progress as a discipline is to undertake the hard task of inter-connecting our work, by building up provisional confidence in our methods and our knowledge base by challenging and impressing each other–– and anyone else who cares to look” (Charney, 1996). These two quotes to me somehow brought up the way in which I try to live (that whole “wake up a better me than the day before” kind of logic). From her words here, I get the sense of the urgency and need to challenge yourself (and others) to be better. The only way one can get to their desired destination is by weaving things together, and by knowing that no work truly stands alone, but rather everything builds off of each other. One learns from past work just as one learns from past experiences in life. If I do not go back to where I started, how am I to accurately depict my now?

The second article was “Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory” by Marian Mohr, Courtney Rogers, Betsy Sanford, Mary Ann Nocerino, Marion MacLean, and Sheila Clawson. Although this article was the shortest of the two, it was definitely easier to keep up with and I ultimately received more from it than with the former article. What I took away from this second piece was the fact that it can be highly beneficial to think of one’s work as a research process. I cannot relate to being a teacher (as this article was heavily related to teacher researchers and teacher practices), but I completely agree with where the authors are coming from. I wholeheartedly believe that one is constantly in a position of receiving knowledge and learning when conducting research, so why not think of your own work as a research process? It is not enough to just finish a piece of work, and then proceed to let it sit on the shelves of academia. It is a must, as Charney pointed out, to note the importance of inter-connected work. Through trials and tribulations, experiences, and working theories one is able to grow… The work is able to grow. With this concept that Mohr et al. (2003) is thinking of, nothing is every really finished, but instead keeps evolving within the field. The only way to know is to try, but then challenge what you thought you knew to get to what you didn’t know. Did I lose anyone with that statement? Hopefully not. This article is older now, so I am interested to see what else has come into the field about this useful theory since then.