Thursday, June 20, 2013

Finish Line and New Beginnings

Two years and a summer is how long it has taken me to finish graduate school.  Stuffing my brain with information on cultural studies theories, theorists, ideas, principles and writing until I could not see the joy in writing any longer.  I stepped away from this blog for a bit because it had seemed so much a part of me and so related to my grad school work I could not see the pleasure in it any longer.  I also needed to try and remove my advisor's voice (no offense Julie!) and begin reclaiming my voice in my writing.  However, on June 16th, I received my Master of Arts in Cultural Studies (MACS) degree and have decided to start writing again and focusing on my passions surrounding food advocacy, food politics and food in general.  Stepping away from so much of the school papers and academic writing style and returning to writing with the goal of starting a conversation, engaging people in discussions surrounding food and food systems.  There is definitely a lot to talk about out there right now!

This being said, I want to share the final pieces of my graduate school work - my final literature review paper (all 30 pages of it in it's original double spaced format; reduced to single spacing!), my presentation from the MACS conference including my slides which accompany the speech and a bit of critique surrounding these pieces.

Our class's MACS conference was a fifteen minute speech per student summarizing two years of work.  The forum was open within certain boundaries and I chose to focus on the topic of hunger in Washington state.

I was not necessarily tremendously pleased with the speech, but it came together and I felt pretty good about it.  However, during a post-conference debrief I received some helpful feedback which I had time to mull over and realized they were the pieces of my presentation which were lacking and I could have reformatted to strengthen the work I had done over the past two years.  I should have focused more on the politics surrounding food spaces and made more of a political bite (pun intended) showing how much politics is involved in our current food system.  My speech came across as more of a plug for Food Lifeline; a group I think is doing amazing work surrounding hunger, but did not need to be such a core part of my presentation. I need to focus more on the issues which arose from the work I have completed.  What things do I now see interwoven into my work from what I have learned from cultural studies?  I should have focused more on the methods I used - autoethnography, participant observation, ethnography and community based learning.  I admit I played it safe overall and did not call out the my findings, frustrations and impacts of the work I have done.  Looking back and recognizing these pieces allows me to learn, grow and move forward with an understanding of what I need to continually bring to the conversation surrounding food justice and the food system in this country and my home state of Washington.

Prior to the conference I had begun working on a literature review my advisor wanted me to write with the goal of engaging and situating my work within the framework of cultural studies.  I had read two books in their entirety, numerous journal articles and two chapters from two separate books directly engaging with cultural studies theorists, Doreen Massey and Pierre Bourdieu.  My paper started with about fifteen pages and ended with thirty pages (twenty-four of actual written content).  I was frustrated, aggravated and emotionally distraught off and on throughout the writing process. I felt the large body of blog writing I had completed was undervalued and unacknowledged; the writing I had completed prior to the literature review had focused solely on food issues and it felt as though it did not matter or was unimportant.  Now as I have had a couple weeks to distance myself from my paper I realize the final paper has the potential to open doors and increase possibilities for future job opportunities and impact where my career will take me.  While I did not enjoy the writing of this paper I definitely can see the positive possibilities associated with it.  I have a very large body of written works to showcase to future employers and this allows me to more easily find my seat at the table I hope to sit at.

I am so excited to see where the road will take me in the future and the vast possibilities lie before me.  While daunting, I know I will find the right fit and continue to share my passion for food, food justice and the communities I interact with.  Here's to more great flavors along the way!!

No comments:

Post a Comment