“More bloggers than ever face arrest for exposing human rights abuses or criticising governments, says a report.
Since 2003, 64 people have been arrested for publishing their views on a blog, says the University of Washington annual report.”
I received the feedback sheets for my honours presentation yesterday. I just wonder how two of the examiners could observe the same presentation and come to such diverse conclusions. Here’s a little of what they had to say.
On the matter of the presentation of a critical argument or rationale:
“Candidate does not appear to have fully absorbed some of the theoretical ideas he discussed.”
On the other hand:
“Demonstrated a sophisticated grasp of the theoretical perspectives on the thesis topic. In particular, the ???? and limitations of Foucaultian concepts. Strong justification of critical theory to thesis question.”
Then there was;
“[Supporting/substantiating material] not always clearly related to the argument” which was countered by “claims and assumptions made in the presentation were well supported by reference to concrete instances and cases, and the appropriate scholarly literature.”
I’ll take the feedback on board without making too much of either the negative or positive. For me it shows two things. First, there are no right or wrong answers, just different perspectives. Second, getting good grades in uni is a bit of a lottery. One person’s advice is another’s prohibition. Get over it, move on.
I started writing today. A tentative beginning dipping my toe into powerful waters thus:
I turn my attention now to how Foucault’s theories of the emergence of power, found in The subject and power, help explain the processes which led to Armstrong being fired.
I’m planning to show how commercial and legal discourses provide explanations to her dismissal and then develop a more complex understanding of the emergence of the various power structures in and around her workplace.
I have 15 000 words to write and only wrote 56 today. If I can punch out 300 words a day I’ll be on target to finish by mid-September. This will give me close to a month to complete final edits and prepare the introduction and conclusion.
While I’m on the subject I’ll start with tidying up the introduction I’ve already written. At least if I know what I’m going to argue it’ll make my job a little easier. I’ll then tidy up the piece I wrote about surveillance and then move onto power and subjectivity.
I was going to take some time off between first and second semester. Now instead I’m going to start writing on Tuesday. My plan is to write a paragraph a day (about 250 words) for 5 days a week. In 12 weeks I’ll have my thesis written. It’s a simple plan but one I’m confident of achieving as it will allow time for research, reading, and other activities.
I conducted my honours presentation today to a group of fellow students, three examiners, and my supervisor. Here’s what I learned.
- There’s a bunch of very smart people doing honours. The intelligence and insight of my fellow students borders on intimidating. Beware world when this group starts work.
- Focus is everything. The tighter the focus – to the point of being insanely narrow – the more useful and meaningful will the thesis become.
- Explain why you’re choosing what your choosing. I’m analysing the contestation found on and around two private blog sites. I didn’t explain why I chose these sites and guess what?: that’s the question I was asked. What lead me to chose these blog sites? Where are they located? Why chose US blogs? My style at times borders on arrogance by choosing a field of analysis and not respecting the reader enough to help them undertake the same journey of discovery I’ve undertaken by justifying my choices.
- Put the exact question of the research project front and centre; and be honest about it. I’ve been saying that I’m researching the tensions around personal blogs; but that’s only part of the story. What I’m really doing is analysing the tensions found on, and around dooce and QueenOfSky, through the critical application of the theories of Michel Foucault.
- Criticism is useful for the development of a coherent argument. Sure it’s nice to hear platitudes and nice things being said about us, but there’s a lot that can be learned from constructive criticism.
So that’s about it for the moment. There’ll no doubt be something else that comes to me as the days go on; and I’ll probably post to this blog some of the feedback that I received from the examiners.
Here’s a link to a resource that’s simple, yet practical.