Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Went to see J.'s defense today.  Stunning… absolutely stunning. However, stunning in a very affirming, unexpected way.

J. would never in a million years talk about herself in these terms, but many of my colleagues (and myself) talk of her in terms that echo people from my former life as a medievalist. There were professors and students all those many years ago who were lovingly (love meaning in this case admiration, respect, collegiality, but mostly idolatry tinged with a perceptible hue of envy) referred to as "sick-savant".  The professor who could quote pages upon pages — verbatim and in Middle English — from the Riverside Chaucer and most of the secondary literature... the student who had seemingly memorized their entire dissertation, the annotated bibliography of their literature review, and most of the major articles they cited.  We were all so much in awe and amazement, yet at the same time so conscious of our own foibles and feelings of imposterism that the quasi-natural reflex was to pathologize the behavior, because to do anything short of painting their performance as non-normative would have us all asking for their autograph and then running back to our offices for a dose of our Cymbalta (actually, back then it would have been Elavil or Pamelor, but I digress.....).

Today, I think a lot of us saw side of J. that those who know her much better likely take for granted, but which makes the rest of us think that we could actually emulate her in many respects and be the better for it, regardless of whether we're quite as brilliant. I can't speak for everyone else ( they all have their own blogs...) but I wanted to share at least a couple of places where I took great solace and comfort from what J. had to say.  This is not to say that these were the only places where I felt great solace and comfort... there were a lot of places where expository snippets of her theoretical and methodological perspectives resonated strongly with what I want to do, and brought some of those things into sharper focus.  I'm more interested for now in what follows.

Dr. G. asked the immortal Dr. G. question: "What do you know now that you didn't know before?"  This was the first time that I heard J. talk about her struggle with moving away from the medicalized language of her dissertation topic and the journey of inscribing herself in the critique of the constrained use of language as she wrote.  I cannot begin to tell you what a painful process it has been (and continues to be) for me personally to attempt to extract myself from the cognitive nomenclature and discourse that I marinate in on a daily basis. Neo got to take a pill...the rest of us aren't that lucky.  I know it has been the source of some critiques of my writing, and I was beginning to think that it was just me. You have no idea what a cathartic moment the answer to that question was to me!

Another cathartic moment was when J. discussed the travails of research… the tedium and neck pain brought on by the transcription process, the mental and emotional exhaustion of  participant observation... it is so refreshing to have something so mundane in common with someone you admire so much!

Oh, I could go on...  the discussion of what inclusionary communication practices would look like in a radicalized version of higher education, her gracious offer to send those who ask her journal entries pertaining to personal reactions to doing research (by the way, I'm asking...)... What about her avowal/observation/accusation that "This" (she was likely referring to her dissertation but it doesn't take a whole lot of mental horsepower to see that there is a j'accuse about what we do in academics...indeed, what we do period...buried in her confession) "is trafficking in some version of the world."?

So, I'm an unashamed groupie now. I'm making a club. Line forms behind me. I will read her journal, and her dissertation. Anyone who knows Dr. G. knows that she doesn't "blow smoke", so when she holds J.'s dissertation up as an excellent example of clarity for other students to follow, that is genuine praise couched as an invitation to everyone else in the room. I may not be smart, but I know what smart is.....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Representing Reality in the Social Studies of Science

Potter, J. (1996) Representing reality: discourse, rhetoric and social construction. London, Sage.

Science would like you to think "that everyone's knowledge claims are assessed by essentially the same impersonal criteria" which lends to the idea that "scientific status is gained through merit rather than patronage or social position." (18)


I like Potter's  (well, Collins', really) example of the gravity-wave controversy as a confirmation of Rorty's formulation that: "no interesting epistemological difference could be identified between the pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit of power." (36) Science is constructed.

As it is constructed by humans situated within unique social realities, scientific inquiry will result in "homologies between the structure of knowledge and the structure of society", meaning that scientists "will be literally rediscovering or redescribing the structure of their society in their test-tubes and cloud chambers." (38) Scientists "are also involved in processes of selective ironization and reification as they assemble an account" (39).

I'm thinking it might be a good idea to delve into the history of efficacy studies in CALL and link it up to
Potter's argument on interest theory.....

Lego Therapy for Undergrads!

Now THIS is a midterm.

#BSawhill needs to be cloned and injected into about 5 or 6 disciplines that I can think of off the top of my head...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Literature Review: To ti or not to ti?

I'm torn.

I have to admit to LOVING having scanned everything I am reading for lit. review / dissertation. Using Acrobat, I can highlight, add notes, have searchable text, and my scribblings can be immortalized in my PDF and tucked away nicely in Mendeley, searchable and all!


I can't really synthesize anything beyond that, which I find VERY annoying. There is no way I am going to keep links I saw, gaps I realized, etc. straight in my dysfunctional brain.

I am going to credit J.L. for giving me the novel-to-me thought of the potential of using Atlas.ti for facilitating the lit. review process. I don't remember whether she was explicit about it or whether I just noticed it as she was taking us through her data, but it led me to feed "literature review in atlas.ti" into the gaping jaws of the Google, which then gave me this article straight from Atlas.ti, as well as this PDF on using NVIVO for the lit. review. I agree with the premise that the act of formulating arguments and research questions from a body of literature mirrors the qualitative data analysis process. You read, reflect, and  interact with the literature, identify themes, compare and contrast ideas and strands from different works, and construct arguments with links to supporting evidence in the literature. What's not to love?

Thinking that I had just made my life infinitely easier, I plugged a PDF into Atlas.ti. I was excited when I saw my highlights made in Acrobat show up on the PDF in Atlas.ti...then less excited when I noticed that my embedded notes did not make the cut on the import. Then, I got to thinking about all of this wonderful mental light that would play colorfully upon these documents, and how I was going to save it in something like Mendeley...Holy qualitative quandry, how AM I going to export ANY of this into something durable?

Now what do I do?
What would you do?
What do you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

J'aime la groupie du technologue

I am fortunate beyond words. Ma chérie amour is not just out of my league, but my galaxy. There's a Michel berger song for that:


I have gone from thinking "mais Dieu que cette fille prend des risques...amoureuse d'un égoïste" to realizing that "elle m'aime, elle m'adore. Plus que tout elle m'aime, c'est beau comme elle m'aime." I know that "elle me suivrait jusqu'en enfer et même l'enfer, c'est pas grand-chose". I look at the track of 15 years and learning how to dance everything from a pas de deux to a pas de neuf, and I can't wait to see that the next 35 bring!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Exercises de style...version 80s


Look at me, you never look at me,
Ooh, I've been sitting, staring, seems so long.
But you're looking through me
Like I wasn't here at all.
No reply, there's no reply at all.


If I looked all over the world
And there's ev'ry type of girl
But your empty eyes seem to pass me by
And leave me dancin' with myself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saldaña 4-5

Resonant Saldaña quotes in 4-5:

"Second Cycle coding methods, if needed, are advanced ways of reorganizing and reanalyzing data coded through First Cycle methods." (So when would second cycle coding NOT be needed?)

"Pattern Coding develops the "meta-code" -the category label that identifies similarly coded data. Pattern Codes not only organize the corpus but attempt to attribute meaning to that organization."

"Sometimes we become overwhelmed by the magnitude ofour studies and thus need to intentionally focus the parameters of our investigation in progress to find its core. Forcing yourself to select a limited number of various ideas that have emerged from your study encourages you to prioritize the multiple observations and reflect on their essential meanings."

Codeweaving "as a heuristic to explore the possible and plausible interaction and interplay of your major codes."

"...rest assured that discussing one thing at a time keeps you focused as a writer, and keeps us focused as readers. After you've discussed each element separately, then you can begin your reflections on how these items may connect and weave complexly together."