The dissertation was only the beginning.

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T: Amazing Husband
ST: Three-year-old Wonder
Prof. G: Advisor I
Prof. C: Advisor II
Julie: Stylish Sister
Rob: Awesome Brother
Belle: Our Cat
Bill: Grumbling BIL
Rita: Uncomplicated SIL
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Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Quote of the Day
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
"In the Field"
There are five major subfields in my discipline, and doing fieldwork is not required for any of them but is highly recommended for one, the one in which I do most of my work. I'm not sure how many graduate students in my subfield actually do fieldwork (especially now that so much information is available online and so many people can be reached via telephone or email), and indeed I wasn't sure if I needed to do it at all. This trip, for example, wasn't planned until right around the time I started blogging, in late July. In fact, the reason I started a blog was so that I could work through my feelings about doing fieldwork while having a young child, husband, mortgage, etc. -- that original blog was quickly deleted, however, in favor of this one, where I could talk about my journey through academia more generally. As I've mentioned before, however, I do have a separate blog that I've devoted entirely to this experience. I write on it daily for my friends and family to read, but I also write it to remember what I did each day.

I will never forget what I did today.

Yes, I could easily be at home right now, eating dinner with T and ST. I could have spent the day reading documents off the internet databases I frequent, I could have sent emails to important people for information, I could have checked books out of the library. Instead, today was spent LIVING what I study, actually being a part of something I've previously only observed from the outside.

I can now say without a doubt that fieldwork is absolutely, 100%, unquestionably necessary in my subfield. There is simply no substitute for what I experienced today. It's not even that it was so relevant to my dissertation work -- rather, it was relevant to my entire career studying this subject. I understand now why Prof. G. was always so insistent that I do this. I emailed him after my experience today and received a reply that made the entire trip worth it a million times over: "I am so proud of you."
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/08/2005 04:49:00 PM  
3 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 11:43 AM, Blogger BrightStar said…

    I am also in a field where I think field work is crucial. It's possible to intellectualize everything away from the field, but I think the best theoretical work is grounded in practice.

    Prof. G is awesome to send along that kind of affirmation!! Especially given how much family adjustments had to happen for you to do this. Prof. G sounds great.

  • At 1:45 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    Bright Star: yes, Prof. G is amazing. One of the most well-known scholars in my subfield, and also one of the finest human beings I've ever met. From the beginning, he's been very protective and supportive of me. He always knows just the right thing to say -- a perfect mentor.

  • At 8:01 PM, Blogger BrightStar said…

    YAY! I'm glad you have someone like him to work with.

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