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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