For me, grad school is just a big roller-coaster. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing great work and sometimes I feel like my head is full of mud. I think that means I’m learning. I hope so. After I’m done with my term papers and grading, I’ll update on how conferences went, summer research, and the good things on my plate. Here’s what I’m working on in the meantime.
I’ve spent a lot of my student-time this semester researching transnational and transracial adoption. There is a truck load of research on the topic and it is fascinating. A lot of this research focuses on kinship and belonging in adoptive families and communities of adoptees. Since there’s already a huge, thorough body of work on adoption, I spent a while wondering where I could even enter into the discussion. If I could even enter. But my prof. recommended I read Happy Family by Wendy Lee. The novel was enjoyable as a light read but perplexing as a novel to read critically. The adoptee in the novel is a toddler, so getting into her psyche isn’t exactly a possibility. But she’s used as a really interesting figure for thinking about immigration, identity, and relationships between America, China, and Asian Americans. She also serves as a symbol for some complicated thoughts about maternity and futurity. So my paper is not about the mass of critical work about adoptees, but instead about how the transnationality of adopted children can be used as a symbolic site for thinking about other transnational and/or feminist issues.
My other paper is for a WGS class and I was tasked with analyzing a media image of a woman of color and think about how the portrayal hits on the issues of diaspora, transnational feminism, etc. that we’ve discussed this semester. I’m writing about redfacing in the fashion and beauty industry, focusing on an image of Michelle Williams in AnOther magazine and connecting it to the history of redface in Hollywood as well as to other contemporary instances of redface (i.e. Johnny Depp as Tonto, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, a No Doubt video). Reservation Reelism has been a fantastic source for me (more).
My brain kind of thinks it’s summer already. My desk chair needs a seatbelt, because I keep getting up to clean, rotate my wardrobe, sort out my files, and do things I generally do at the beginning of the summer. I think in part this could be because I feel like I’m in a good position with both of these papers. I’ve thought them through, read the research, and started both. I just need to put the words on the page. If I don’t let myself get too distracted, I might actually have a low-stress finals week. Excusez-moi?