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).