More reading, more writing, more parenthetical citations!

It’s obvious that I need to do more research on how women perceive womanhood. This isn’t because I don’t feel comfortable making assertions within the introduction. But I know that quality and quantity of information is what gives theories and claims validity and reliability. For that reason, there needs to be more parenthetical citations at the end of my sentences. Being an undergrad, although I’m a senior, makes me conscious of being perceived as something other than an authority. A bulk of the written work will be conveying to an audience what I’ve unearthed through the interviews and the process of transcribing them. While the other 25% will be grounded in other people’s research. I don’t want that small, although important, section to give me anxiety about what I’m doing in my own research. So to confidently move forward I need to feel like my introduction and literature review are strong and thorough and well written, but also an accurate representation of my own processing of information and the trajectory of my project.

Through my research synthesis I realized that media texts about women/womanhood, and sometimes manhood, are incredibly helpful because they too are doing what I am seeking to do: meshing narratives/storytelling with definitions/embodiments of womanhood. Although these are portrayals of womanhood, or in some instances mother-daughter relationships, they tell me a lot about how identity is in conversation with structure, with objects, and with the inner self and psychological processes. How identity relates to structure specifically isn’t always a function of how we act or dress in public spaces, but also how we’ve come to conceptualize ourselves over time.

The most important thing that my research taught me is that womanhood really is a process, which has a component of inevitability and certainty. I think that element is either incredibly apparent or obscured. Caitlyn Moran makes it seem very apparent, but I think many people I’ve interviewed struggle to locate the line between the two. So what’s at the heart of our struggle with womanhood, is perhaps the coercive nature of change. Growth is often uncomfortable (physically in terms of the body, or even in relation to societal expectations and interactions at certain ages). I think what I might struggle with in my interviews as a result of all of this, is challenging the idea that we were passive in the past during our transitions or even now. Those transformative moments and relationships were as agentic as naming for oneself what womanhood is.

Questions writing a draft introduction has raised:

1. What literature exists to provide a working framework for my sub-hypothesis that a spiritual transformation underlies how women talk about what womanhood is, what it feels like, how it relates to their with their mother?

2. Would it be beneficial to make the literature review and introduction more narrative? I thought about this in relation to my exploration of media texts, like visual art work and film.

3. Where is it best to insert personal narratives about myself? (Introduction or Methods where it’s traditionally appropriate to talk about relationship to subject matter).

4. Can interviewees bring their childhood into adulthood through their understanding of their relationship to and remembrance of their mother/grandmother? Or is this something I will discern for myself through transcription and listening to the audio.

To have a solid first draft by March 10th I need to do a thorough analysis of how literature reviews are put together. As Jake mentioned, I need to review the references in the research I’m reading for my project. I also need to transcribe the interviews I have done so far in order to pull out initial themes and start researching what literature exists that make sense of the results. This blog post was perhaps more helpful than writing a synthesis or introduction. It felt easier to access my thoughts and make connections. I probably need to to more low-stakes free writing (like the draft development assignments) to create stronger drafts of my project.

Returning to Claudia Rankine, my patrons, will hopefully help me get back to the basics of good writing. Perhaps where some hesitancies lie within translating research into synthesis is in the quality of that translation, but also the impact. Rankine is a master at making experiences come to life. What feelings those experiences hold become tangible on the page.  It’s inspiring to read, but mostly to dissect how she uses words to narrate. I need to return to fundamentals, as Tharp suggested, to feel confident writing something I’m usually reading (aka research articles). Rankine also gives us all permission to be really daring in our work. I’ve been hesitant about what’s exigent about my project’s subject matter, in part because I’ve researched and read pieces that use the ability to define something for oneself as oppressive if it excludes another. Navigating this has been particularly tricky. Solnit really talks about the power of naming things. So I feel a little stuck, not necessarily in terms of moving forward in my project, but in relation to ethics and compassion.

Kennedy Clark

Kennedy is a Sociology major with an ineptness for exposition and an excessive love for Michigan basketball and pretzels.

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