Tuesday, May 2, 2006

It's What You're Doing When You're Doing What You Look Like You're Doing

It looks like I'm working on the last seminar paper. Ever. Two thousand credit hours later, I'm at the end of coursework, writing the last paper. And oh lordamighty does it need work. I presented the outline in class back in April. The response came, "That's a superb and amazing outline. For a dissertation." Which is lucky, because I'll officially be on the clock to write one of those beginning early next year. And I have an outline to steer it right. For a few days I thought this final paper would aspire to be prospectus-like, a speculative what-why-how for the diss. But that's too grandiose, I've learned, and so I need to turn out a few more pages on this: why not empirical methods (exploration, imagination and whatnot)? No, it's not the right question yet. Yes, I have particular methods in mind. What's an antonym for empirical? Felt? Intuited? [Added: Theoretical?]

The geography course finished this morning. AAG-like presentations. Mine: something on writing the map or what I want to call map writing--the writing activity taking shape with the online mapping apps that have boomed since Google Maps' API released last summer. Specifically, I read from a script that I ripped (then massaged) from the twenty page version of the paper. Such distinctive genres--the seminar paper and the 15-minute conference talk. There was a handout, Powerpoint slides, screenshots. Applause (okay, for everyone...polite clapping). And just five minutes for Q&_. There would be an A in a perfect world, but we ran out of time. Which means that, to the last question asked of me, I didn't get to let loose with how deeply important it is, particularly with cybercartographic apps (where mapping is participatory, written/plotted by users), to regard maps as rhetorical, to study maps rhetorically. This shift from authoritative (politically regimented) paper maps to online maps is a remediation much like book to screen, only, well, different, I think, because of the limited influence of rhetoric on cartography (or cartography on rhetoric). More about this another day, or comment away if you want to pick up where I'm leaving off. I've got to get back to doing what I look like I'm doing.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at May 2, 2006 6:50 PM to Academe

Your question about empiricism was rhetorical, I think, but I can't resist answering it. Among the antonyms for "empirical" listed by thesaurus.com are "conjectural," "hypothetical," and "theoretical." But if you think of "empirical" as falling under the heading, epistemological attitudes, I'd vote for "rational" as the best antonym--observation versus reason.

Posted by: Lance at May 3, 2006 12:59 PM

This helps, Lance. I was thinking primarily about how we think about evidence or how we take stands on what counts as evidence, but epistemological attitudes is a useful framework. Empiric-al/ism still tips toward scientific rationalism, I think, and so I'm trying to understand resistance to empiricism--perhaps in keeping with empiricism as "reproducible" results or "verifiable" observations.

Posted by: Derek at May 3, 2006 7:39 PM

congrats on being done with coursework... it's an odd sense, yes?, that you won't ever have to be on that side of the podium/desk/grading sheet again.

Posted by: anne at May 3, 2006 7:55 PM

Thanks, Anne. I'm close to the relief-point of the semester. It's odd alright. I'm already planning for summer writing peers and trying to make sure the support networks carry over from the more formal class sessions.

Posted by: Derek at May 3, 2006 8:28 PM

Oh, yeah: congrats on finishing coursework, and on having an outline for the diss already. Here's hoping you won't have to change it too much when you get down in the trenches.

As for resistance to empiricism, I'd be curious to know who's doing the resisting, and in what form. I know there has been a lot of resistance in feminist (and other explicitly ethical) comp research circles, but it is definitely waning. It seems to me that the neopragmatism that informs much talk of ethics in comp research actually embraces--at least in theory--the use even of quantitative empirical methods when they might advance the activist causes of the researcher(s) (see Gesa Kirsch's work, e.g.).

Posted by: Lance at May 3, 2006 9:20 PM

Rather than "resistance to empiricism," I probably should've said critical takes on the limits of empiricism. Davida Charney gets at this in her CCC essay from a few years ago. And then I'm looking at Johanek's book plus a few other essays (Stock, for example). But it's only a brief section in the essay, and so I want to deal with it fairly quickly. Won't be going back to Sextus Empiricus and the Pyrrhonists for this project. Thanks for the suggestion about Kirsch, too.

Posted by: Derek at May 4, 2006 11:31 AM

Biting off more than we can chew is a hallmark of CCR folk--not sure if the program just attracts folks like us, or feeds into that aspect of our natures, or what. Will you be working with the dissertators group this summer?

Posted by: susansinclair at May 4, 2006 11:58 AM

Yeah, I'll attend as many sessions as I can. It sounds like there will be a good group, lots of people attending and so on. I'm also planning to get a solid start on exam-list reading, crunching another three years of archives for CCC Online, and, when of all that's done, relaxing.

Posted by: Derek at May 4, 2006 12:12 PM

Exam reading was the best! No, really--just reading and typing up my notes and contemplating. No immediate Paper to write. I got caught up on theory I'd been wanting to read for ages. Of course, then I had to actually Do The Exam, but still: reading.

Posted by: susansinclair at May 4, 2006 4:29 PM

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthdaaaay, dear Deerrrek,
Happy birthday to you!

Posted by: senioritis at May 5, 2006 8:50 AM

Yea, while the exams were stressful, exam reading was massively wonderful. Reading and writing about things that interest you? No paper to write? Contemplating on ideas that you'd like to expand on later? The best... really. Oh, and happy birthday!

Posted by: Billie at May 5, 2006 9:46 AM

Happy birthday D!!!!
Get away from your desk and enjoy it!

Posted by: Denise at May 5, 2006 10:30 AM

Exam reading soon enough. I hope you're both right that it's the best.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

I'd get up from the desk, Denise, but then I'd just stand around trying to remember what I was going to do!

Posted by: Derek at May 5, 2006 11:44 AM