academia, dissertation, scholarship, UCSB

Second-Year Blitz

So there’s a lot going on at the moment…

Aside from trying to get this blog up to speed (at the moment my travel entries start and end in May 2008–just slightly behind schedule there), I’m working on my prospectus and putting together my dissertation committee. No one, no matter how many advanced grads you speak to, can really prepare you for how nerve-wracking this process is. I’m quickly learning how to pare down my interests into a workable dissertation, and how to overcome the nervousness that goes with courting committee members. It’s pretty much like asking someone to go steady. And let’s not forget how increasingly bleak the job market has been looking  for humanities PhDs. *sigh* (I’m going to try not to dwell, and will instead wish my friends who are on the job market well!)

In addition to the daunting dissertation, I’m working on a forum on race and ethnicity for HASTAC Scholars. That should be going live on Tuesday (links to come!). It’s been an interesting process working on that, as the three people planning it (myself and two others) come from very different disciplines (namely literature and anthropology) and have been telecommuting from all over the country. The most fascinating part of this collaboration has been the negotiating of disciplinary differences to result in a forum that we’ll all be happy with. We’ve also been using Google Wave, which I am not at all sold on, but have been willing to try out anyway. Verdict to com

My other main project this year (and a very exciting one!) is with the UC Transliteracies Project‘s Research-oriented Social Environment. When I started last year, working with the BlueSky Social Network Research group, the objective of the group wasn’t incredibly clear, but it’s quickly evolved into a practical social networking platform that is creating connections between people (academics, historical figures, etc.) with documents (articles, books, plays, electronic literature, etc.) and other people (family, colleagues, critics, etc.). It’s rather ambitious, and still very much in the early theoretical/programming/buggy phases, but we’re also seeing a real, operational  web environment. So exciting! We’re planning a marathon “charrette” for the end of February to present our project to academics and industry professionals to get feedback. It’s hectic and busy (thank goodness the workload is split three ways with two other project managers) but it’s a great group of people to be working with, and Alan is such an encouraging leader.

I’ll keep my update as short as possible. But suffice it to say, it’s been busy!

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