Overcaffeinated Early Semester Ramblings

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Frozen pre-birthday picnic in the local state park.

Hi there. It has been a while. Things got kind of crazy at the beginning of the semester. Between portfolio reviews both for the department and the honors program, starting the semester, writing proposals, and celebrating my 26th birthday, I’ve been super busy. I have plenty of notes of things to write about and plan on posting about once a week as the semester progresses. For now, here’s a recap of what’s going on.

Living: Last weekend was my birthday. Julio flew in to visit me and we had a super fun weekend. I started my 26th birthday while eating cereal and watching Clarissa Explains It All. I ended the day with a surprise party at a delicious Indian restaurant in the city. It was just one of the best days ever. I felt so loved and I was so surprised. I surprised Julio with  a cooking challenge like on Chopped one night and Julio liked it so much we’re making it a regular feature of our visits. (Our ingredients were: kale, plantains, tarragon honey, tomato couscous, bulk cut bacon, and jicama. He won. My kitchen was a disaster.) Last Saturday, we drove to my hometown so he could meet my parents. It was a busy string of days.

I also got to see two movies featuring my fav. Kyle Chandler in one month. One was astounding ( Zero Dark Thirty) one was terrible (Broken City).

Coursework: Technically this is my last semester of coursework. I will have two classes left after this semester for my certificate in Women and Gender Studies, but I’m currently enrolled in my last official English seminar. I’m taking Asian American Cultural Critique with my awesome PhD chair. The reading list includes some really awesome works and I know I’m going to learn a lot.

I’m also enrolled in a WGS course Feminism & the Diaspora. I’m the only grad student in that one, so it’s a bit of a different experience, but the subject matter intersects really well with many topics I’m interested in. We also are having a ton of guest speakers who so far have been awesome. So, as you can tell, things have been awesome.

Teaching: I’m teaching Literature & Composition again this semester. We’re reading The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Catcher in the Rye and discussing adolescence, violence, and power. My class seems really smart and participation has been great.

I’m also taking part in a teaching apprenticeship. My friend Rachel and I are sitting in on the American Lit 1865-1945 survey course. As part of our duties we’ll also meet with students about papers and help with the grading. It has been really fun so far to be in a survey course again. It’s a good refresher and I’m learning a lot about teaching. I’ve found that the apprenticeship has teaching on my mind so often that I’ve been paying more attention to approaches my instructors have and to my own performance in the classroom. Anyway, I’ll get to start teaching my own 100-level survey as early as the fall.

Scholarship: On the conference-front, I presented a paper about the media portrayal of Malala Yousufzai yesterday at our Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality Symposium. That was kind of a tricky paper because I was looking at US and UK portrayals of girlhood applied to a Pakistani teen in extraordinary circumstances. I think I still need to nuance my argument, but I’ll continue to see what happens with that story. It’s early yet.

I’ve proposed a paper that I wrote last semester about girlhood in literary accounts of the Juarez-El Paso feminicides (Desert Blood, “Women of Juarez,” and If I Die in Juarez) to a Latina Feminisms Roundtable in April. I hope I get in as I think it will be an amazing experience. If I do, I’ll need to cut that paper down significantly. I’m also going to propose it to the National Women’s Studies Association conference (in November) and I’ll have a response to that before April. So if I get into both I can cut the 25 page paper down in different ways so I can get feedback on different sections of it. It’s a project I feel really passionate about, not only because it deals with a gross violation of human rights and dignity, but also because the works really get at the intricate relationship between girlhood, citizenship, nationalism, and economics, especially in a borderland or transnational context.

Also in April, I’m going to the Gender Matters Conference in Chicago to present a paper about the UN Girl Up! Campaign. I’ve wanted to write that paper for a long time and I hope it will become a dissertation chapter, so I’m very excited. Julio is going to fly in to join me after the first day of the conference and we are making plans to have some fun in the city–Cubs game, meeting his parents, possible double dates. It’ll be a great, productive weekend.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of posts about TV, movies, articles, etc. that I want to write for PhDs and Pigtails in addition to keeping up with the research.

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