Hi everyone—so sorry to be uploading this so late! Here are some of my notes on the course:
I was absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to read texts that directly engage questions of culture and modernity, particularly in the context of indigeneity. It was a rare treat to actually have coursework that addressed these issues, and I felt the primary texts that dealt with them—Coombe, Tsing, West, & Deloria—were all are excellent choices. Though, as I have admitted, I didn’t get too much out of Deloria’s text because many of the larger arguments were things I felt I already knew as a member of Native communities, I still greatly appreciated the chance to think about these things a bit more in depth—I wish that the discussion of Deloria had gone better, because I feel it’s a rich text that has a lot to offer, particularly to non-Natives who do not have a background in Native Studies or ties to a Native community. West was particularly useful for me as well, and Coombe has left me with more questions than answers (which I believe is a good thing). Questions of intellectual property were never really on the forefront of my mind and to be honest I assumed them to be a bit dry, but reading this semester’s text has proven otherwise (especially now that I’m in a battle with a museum for access to some family heirlooms!). I’m looking forward to continuing my studies of cultural/intellectual property, culture, and modernity in indigenous contexts, and feel that this course gave me a strong beginner’s introduction to get my feet wet.
In terms of the actual assignments for the course, the assignment that was most useful to me was the repeated presentations. I’m a visual learner so the required time spent trying to make a Powerpoint with the bare essentials of my project was very useful in streamlining and developing my thoughts, and the practice presenting my work to an audience unfamiliar with my subject and context was illuminating. I didn’t find the peer reviews of paper drafts to be that helpful, partly because it didn’t feel like anyone this go around was equipped with the background knowledge to give me much constructive feedback…the presentations were helpful primarily because it forced me to think about how I would get non-Native audiences interested in my work, and how to make it as easily understood as possible for a wide range of reviewers.
All in all, I enjoyed the course and learned a lot—thanks for the great semester.
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First and foremost, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for making this seminar what a seminar should be: challenging yet amicable. I don't really know where the time went, but I do know that in the short matter of weeks that we spent together I can no longer see binaries--its all friction! As the second half to the American Studies year long core-requirements, I found this course extremely helpful. I feel I found a niche within the madness we continue to call the academy. Despite the fact that the majority of our weekly meetings resulted in headaches, more questions, and at times a good old dosage of just plain anger, I still found myself excited to attend and participate in class discussions. So thank you all for all your verbal, pensive, or physical contributions to my scholarly development.
Throughout the course, I really enjoyed reading up on separate, yet inter-connected areas of research. I particularly enjoyed the intermingling going on between cultural studies and IP. Coombe, Boyle and to a lesser degree Coleman granted me the access needed in order to conceptualize what I hope becomes my larger research agenda. I really found their work to be of vital importance for any study of human behavior and social relations with institutions as it pertains to the ever-changing systematic construct of political economy. With that said, I also enjoyed how cultural studies and IP literature were balanced with well-researched ethnographic works such as Tsing and West. Having only taken 'Intro to Physical Anthropology' as an undergrad, it blew my mind the political solidarity that researchers can/and do have for marginalized communities. Their contributions in the mapping out of power relations in regards to capitalism, labor, and identity was both illuminating and of great aide. And although I didn't really fancy texts such as Castells, I still took something out of it. In all, I feel the literature read this semester have grounded and expanded my initial interests of social movements, neoliberalism, and public education.
Lastly, I really enjoyed how we as a class designed the flow of readings. I thought it really worked out well and we weren't completely left in the dark (well, maybe perhaps not counting Mirzoeff...) Like Lizeth, I greatly advise other seminar's to have students hypothesize, write, and discuss their research projects early in the semester--as the final product seems to be fuller, more engaged, and well better. The various ways we went about sharing our ideas was also very supportive for me, as it challenged me for the first time to not have words on a PPT! I also would like to thank everyone for their feedback throughout our presentations, as it immensely helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to say (particularly Jen and Somava for peer-reviewing my rough draft and Annita for sharing with me new angles and connecting threads).
All in all, this seminar blew my mind away--literally. A last word of acknowledgment to Dr. Christen for constantly pushing me to theorize just a little more. This class was truly a most difficult yet awesome experience.
Hope you all have a fun and productive summer break! And we'll be seeing each other before we can say: ethics of contingency! ;-)
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First of all, I would like to thank you all for a wonderful semester. It was really great knowing all of you and truly speaking I learned a lot from all of you.
Regarding the course, I think like some others who came in after taking Am_St 506, I too came in with the presumption that this course would deal with more contemporary theoretical literature that are considered foundational in Critical Cultural Studies. However, Thank you Dr Christen for the wonderful selection of text books (even though I admit struggling with all of them). I am particularly thankful for the ethnographies we read over the semester, I guess someone up there has heard my complaint and grudges for not been allowed to take my aspired ethnography course last semester.
I would also like to add the scholarship we read over the semester helped me to realize how concepts proposed by the Foucault (What is an author?) etc can be modified and used to explain contemporary things. To mention some of the literature we read, first in my list is of course Anna L Tsing's Friction. I feel it is a treasure box full of precious knowledge that I can use throughout my career and life. I also like Mirzoeff's, The right to look, even though I feel I am still struggling with the concept of visuality1, visuality2 and counter visuality. Finally, even though we all recognized the flaws in Castells book, Networks of Outrage and Hope, I admit the other literature I have come across about Arab Spring had adopted the Orientalistic lens in their narrative. In those lines, I would say even though Castells disregards the complexities in
networked social movements he did acknowledge the native players contribution in Arab Spring.
One last thing, I will admit that I was a bit disappointed that we did not read Grossberg and how he lays out
the development, progress, and conjunctures in cultural studies. Even though it is a dense text, I feel it would have been a great discussion if we unpacked it as a class.
Again, thank you all and thank you Dr Christen for a great semester.
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Okay y'all so I had written a nice reflection letter to you all, but the post did not upload and it was not saved in the draft file. So now I am mad because I have to rewrite it and I am very tired and exhausted :( Sorry!)
Anyways, I want to thank you all for a great semester. This was a very difficult semester for me, but I would not trade this experience for anything else in the world. I have learned so much from this course. I found the lightening rounds, the peer reviews and the overall writing process for the research proposals EXTREMELY HELPFUL! I actually think all graduate seminars should do something similar to this because it really helped me focus my work. I initially started with a huge project that was unrealistic and the writing process helped me focus my research. I also enjoyed the class discussions and appreciate Dr. Christen for always forcing us to expand on our ideas and discussion points. As for the readings, I found the ethnographies my favorite. They were great examples of theory and praxis, which helped my own research in terms of methodology and theoretical framework.
Finally, I cannot thank you enough Dr. Christen for always, and I mean always, making time to meet with me. I know we met a lot, but every time we met I left your office overwhelmed but at the same time feeling more confident about my research project. You provided great feedback and I sincerely appreciate your time and dedication to your students. Thank you!
Have a great summer y'all! We did it! woot woot :)
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As I made clear before, I really enjoyed and got a lot out of the readings, discussions, and project. My project was entirely too large to handle. I do not work well with blogging, or know much about multiple media. I expect a very poor grade in this class. But I have decided to try to complete my PhD dissertation and research in spite of this failure. Thanks to all of you classmembers for your help on my project with your questions and comments. That was much appreciated. I realize that I cannot stop cyberwarfare from happening now and even more in the future. But I believe in speaking truth to power and especially on behalf of the indigenous and the powerless. I especially appreciated everyone's contributions to the classtime discussions. I think every one of you are brilliant and have bright futures in academia. Pease continue to strive until you are successful. God bless you all and each.
Like Rachel, my expectation for AMST 507 would that it be something of a direct continuation of AMST 506, with more contemporary theoretical texts that might be considered foundational in American Studies. While less direct than I was expecting, I appreciate the overall shape of the course and the particular subjects we have worked with. I think I would have liked to have more connection with 506 just for my benefit, since some of the concepts we covered in that class were new to me, and I would have like to solidify them a bit further.
But I did enjoy the majority of the texts we read for the class. I think my favorites were the ethnographies. I tend to be a more "concrete" thinker, and having specific details and situations helps me to understand theoretical concepts more quickly. Tsing, West, Deloria, and Coleman to a lesser extent worked well for me in that regard. And although I tend to need more processing time with denser theoretical texts, I found myself really interested in Mirzoeff's work, and I'm planning to give it more attention over the summer.
Assignment-wise, I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate the project proposal assignment, as opposed to an essay. While it does some of the same work as an essay in terms of theoretical grounding, the proposal also allows us to really think practically about applying our work, and that's a skill we need as academics, writing grants for research and projects and the like.
Thanks for a challenging and enlightening semester!
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The final post… for the final American Studies class I have to take (maybe). It is strange to think that my moonlighting in CCGRS has come to an end. Four classes later, if I had been an undergraduate, I would have been well on my way to a minor. This class was an interesting one to end on. I had come into it with the assumption that it was going to be an extension of Dr. Bloodsworth-Lugo’s AmSt 506, with the same kinds of literature. I was surprised to find out that instead we would be engaging with and working through issues of globalization, intellectual property, virtual spaces and indigenous peoples. Looking back with a little bit of perspective, I can see the neat dovetailing of 506 to 507, however I felt like I struggled in this class more than I struggled in 506. Part of it definitely had to do with the subject matter. Books like Boyle’s, Coombe’s and Coleman’s made me think about intellectual property, copyright and that blasted ethics of contingency in ways that I had not thought of before. I was especially thankful for Tsing’s text on frictions within globalization as it has and will continue to deeply inform my own understandings of intercultural communication within globalized contexts. Her theories compliment and complicate Appadurai’s global flows in novel and complex ways.
I cannot say that I was completely thrilled with all of the texts, however. While I loved the concept behind Castells’ text on social networks and social movements—and it served as a nice foundation for my project proposal—I felt that it was hastily written and lacking a depth that is usually present in Castells work. On the other end of the spectrum was Mirzeoff who had depth to the point of being dense. I normally love dense works, even if they become a practice in masochism to get through (see Habermas for an example), but Mirzeoff’s book felt too opaque, which is too bad because the ideas behind the “right to look” were fascinating and thought provoking.
In the end, what I will take most from this class is an understanding about my lack of understanding. It was in this class that I felt I had to work the hardest to understand many of the concepts we were engaging. I questioned my own ontological stance and viewpoints more in this class than I have since I was a first year Master’s student. Those often are the most fruitful classes because while I cannot guarantee I can clearly articulate a lot of what we learned this semester, I know it helped me grow as an academic and teacher.
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I had a good time taking this course this semester. It was great to experience a graduate course outside of the English department and meet some folks from American Studies and Communications. As a master’s student, I particularly appreciated the opportunity to look on while doctoral candidates developed and refined dissertation-level research projects. If and when I go on to pursue a PhD, the experience of taking this course will definitely serve as a resource when it comes to planning out my own dissertation. I was really impressed with your interesting ideas for projects that address important, timely issues!
Another takeaway for me was the experience of building on my thesis work and thinking about plagiarism in new ways. During our first class when we did introductions I said that I was hoping to engage more with theory in this class. Reading Boyle’s and Coombe’s theories of intellectual property not only helped me to reach this goal, but also led me look at my thesis work from a non-compositionist perspective and to develop a project that was related to what I’ve done before, but also a progression into a new line of inquiry.
Even though it was not directly related to my final project, I thoroughly enjoyed West’s From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive. Her investigation into the production, circulation, and consumption of coffee was fascinating, her book accessible, and her project well-theorized. The best part is that I can now use the term “neoliberalism” and feel confident that I know what I am talking about ; ) I highly recommend that this book be assigned for this course in the future.
The books I did not like as much were Coleman and Castells. I just feel like both books did not offer up as much as the others did. Perhaps it was because I had high hopes for them when I started reading, or because I felt their research lacked direction and focus. Overall, though, I thought the reading list for the class was excellent and I appreciated the threads running through the books that tied everything together.
Thanks, everyone, for a great semester!