Liminality & Research

What a wonderful discussion last class. A special thanks to Tyler, who really opened up thoughtful discussion about your own “position-ality” as MA grad students who are now embarking on a journey into research. Indeed you are on a threshold of sorts. It is a place of relative discomfort. This is a key time in the development of your own, overall, intellectual growth. Your research agenda will become one aspect of your professional and personal identity. With that in mind, it is interesting to grapple with pre-conceived notions that we might take from the past. We must apprehend certain expectations, and even in the face of them, work to foster our own capabilities, passions, and determination to do the work we find compelling.

Along the road towards a sense of personal empowerment (that is critical to good work – i.e. “the self-centered researcher”), I am glad that we also took a moment to shed further light on the context of higher education . “The Academy” has long established its authority over knowledge production through protocols like “peer review”, and challenging “hoops” to jump through like tenure. These milestones in an academic career are not for the faint of heart, and in short, the work is “not for just anybody”. The bar for rigor and excellence (…is this the “end all, be all”?…) is set very high for a tenured University professor in a field that is founded on prestige (without much opportunity). And so these “traditions” (and their effect on people) have trickled deep down into the culture of higher education.

In some sense, our class was all about thinking that through, connecting the dots, and understanding broader contexts for the enterprise of research. Your are now in a “liminal position”,. You are at the threshold (or the edges) of certain “training”, and you must find your way (authentically) to produce your own contribution – new knowledge that has your “stamp”. Tyler’s discussion asking us to consider methods and attitudes towards research was a great place for us to start. And his presentation “walkthrough” of Purdy & Walker’s Liminal Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition Students as Researchers was just the right footing to set off on our journey together.

Our class slides:

Your to-do list

Next week we will take a close look at the first example of a Writing Studies “methodology” for research. Please read:

Your fourth blog is due the morning of 2/15. Please write a reflection on our autoethnography articles for discussion.

Remember to read your peer’s blogs, so that during our class discussion you can offer thoughtful “shout outs” to some of your classmates next week.

Happy Valentines Day! See you next week. And remember, we will be meeting in ZOOM!

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