Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Comics as Ethnography

Well, they say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. So, since I'm not dead yet, I guess that qualifies me for the title of Ms. Muscles! Grad school seems to have appointed itself as my personal trainer, and I think it has seriously overestimated my abilities! I've just managed to graduate from "bench pressing" 2 gigantic research projects in the last 2 weeks to whatever you do after that (free weights?). So, I'm not really a sports fan.

I did take time to celebrate, but not for long, as I still have 3 or 4 more big projects to go before October 1 (and that's before I even get to the dissertation proposal). I now understand what the Spanish proverb re: unrested fields turning sterile, and the phrase, "The bow must not always be drawn" mean. I'm definitely ready for some rest!

If I ever do manage to get the PhD, the world had better watch out, because the first thing I'm going to do after sleeping for a million years and doing nothing for a week is to completely reform our educational system. If this is an education, I'd hate to see what the school of hard knocks has to offer!

My most interesting idea today was that perhaps we should think about making comic books as a valid form of ethnographic work. (Yeah, I'm not entirely sure I'm using the term correctly, but it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it?!) I've been struck by how well PhD Comics captures the overt issues and underlying dynamics of the culture of graduate school. I mean, you really have to understand the underlying cultural perspectives as well as the daily practices and valued products of institutions of higher ed to achieve a comic that is actually funny to people living that life for real. Humor is grounded in truth. And you'll find a lot of truths about graduate school by skimming the archives of PhDComics.com! Some of my favorites can be found by clicking here and scrolling down toward the bottom of the page.

Well, on that note, I'm off to bed after pulling an all nighter to try to finish one of my comprehensive exam papers. One down, 2 more to go. At least the worst one is over!
Sigh of relief!


Jessie said...

Love the PhD comics! Very funny. I sent them to Dave.
And don't worry Cherice, you can do it! You always survive and I'm sure you will again. Take a deep breath...

N. E. Miller said...

I've always loved the Ph.D. comics! I love the fact that they've begun highlighting the friction between humanities and social sciences! And I especially love (this one's for Dave and all my business friends) the questioning of the graduate student status of MBA character!