Sunday, January 24, 2010

A new transition

I feel like I should address the reason why I haven’t been writing for this blog lately—take care of all the boring housekeeping announcements before I actually compose any interesting thoughts relating back to the theme of this blog. I just recently completed the core component of my PhD program—which, it turned out, was no insignificant task, as my final document ran for 31 pages and had a bibliography documenting over 200 references. Yet, at the end of this gruelling marathon-writing, I’ve found myself preparing for another transition in life: a transfer out of my current program to a master’s in the School of Social Sciences. I’m trying not to say too much about it, because nothing has actually been confirmed at this point; however, with a little bit of luck I will soon be hanging up my lab coat and moving on to work on a degree in gender studies.
This is a major shift, and unless you’ve been one of my closer friends, it’s a decision that probably seems to come out of thin air. I’m not the kind of person to sit around and regret past decisions; nonetheless, one of my major regrets from my time at WSU is that I never got a second major in either Women’s Studies or Anthropology. I remember at the time I decided to just graduate early—a decision that was applauded by my former supervisor, Pat Hunt, as a regaining of sanity (she actually said, “I’m glad you’ve come to your senses” when I told her I would not be pursuing the second major; she, and many others in the sciences, view the social sciences as a waste of time, energy, and money). I realize that this is a major departure from genetics and the “hard” sciences—my discipline of choice for the last eight years—and it’s true, I’ve been a major science geek for as long as I can remember (hell, I even used to give up lunch recess in 4th and 5th grades so I could go do science experiments). But honestly, I’m not as passionate about the sciences as I used to be. Sure, I still find them interesting, but they’re no longer fulfilling.
With that in mind, I scheduled a meeting with the postgraduate coordinator for the department of Gender, Work and Social Inquiry here at the University of Adelaide, and together we discussed my ideas for a master’s thesis. Generally, I want to look at the relationship between physicalized gender identity (e.g. gender is conflated with sex such that in order to transition, one generally has to alter their body) versus a performative gender identity (e.g. trading one set of gender roles for another effectively “changes” one’s sex). Specifically, I want to look at these two manifestations of gender identity in ancient cultures and see how they have evolved over time...heh, maybe this is a little bigger than just a master’s degree (I may have to scale it back a little bit to be a more modern analysis...although I completely intend to get both ancient and contemporary viewpoints at some time).

1 comment:

  1. Hardly comes as a surprise after reading much of what you have written. The subject could do with an analytical brain behind the thinking and I think you have already done most of the groundwork!

    I like the approach since I have always hated the "system" which pushes people towards genital surgery whilst ignoring almost everything else. The surgery is still only available for a very small number so most of us have to express our non standard gender as best we can or as far as society allows since this changes drastically with time and place.

    I look forward to your future posts on the subject. I was once science centred and was persuaded not to pursue the arts and regretted it ever since.

    Good luck.

    Caroline xxx