I am surprised one person has asked about my PhD research, never mind the dozens and dozens of comments and email questions I’ve received. I’m pretty excited some of you are interested, but I promise to keep it brief (although I’m happy to answer questions). Without further ado, now that you’ve had the full tour of my office, here’s some info on the work I do in there:
As you might have guessed from my recent feminist DIY project, I’m a feminist. So it is probably no surprise that I am doing my PhD in Women’s Studies (although my department is soon to be renamed). My HBA and MA are in philosophy (you can read my MA thesis here, but I highly discourage it – I completely ignored the intersections of racism, classism, nationalism, etc., that are so integral to my research now). The switch was a bit of a challenge for me because I had a lot of catching up to do, and still feel behind in my new discipline. But, apparently this feeling is common enough that there’s a name for it: “imposter syndrome,” the feeling many of us grad students have of feeling inferior and not smart enough.
My broad area of interest is the social construction of motherhood and non-motherhood. Specifically, I’m interested in the way women without children are represented in media, which is really interesting work – I even wrote a paper titled Child-free Women & Chick Flicks! Basically, I’m contesting ideas of “womanhood” necessarily hinged on motherhood, and women without children – either by choice, by chance or circumstance – labelled unfulfilled, selfish, immature, un-womanly, etc. But I’m also interested in the social construction of motherhood: whose motherhood is encouraged and whose is not, how (certain) women are expected to desire motherhood, the unattainable mothering standards demanded of women to be “good” mothers, how parenthood is gendered, etc . . .
My dissertation research overlaps with Hungarian Studies, as I am currently studying representations of women as mothers and women without children in a popular Hungarian women’s magazine, Nők Lapja (here’s a link to the google-translated website). Conducting research in my rusty second language makes things doubly hard, especially because I will have to actually go to Hungary to conduct some of my research . . . details to come.
P.S. The day I left for the conference I recently presented at (I mentioned it here – and also in the comments of that post) a few Lily of the Valley opened up. It is my absolutely favorite flower. Since childhood I have been obsessed with the gorgeous scent. As I hopped in the car, I grabbed what I could and put them in a makeshift vase (an eye makeup remover bottle). When I got to Toronto, everyone’s had already flowered and by the time I got home mine had too! Gah! So this is all I got this season and it’s making me super sad.
Is it weird to get all bent out of shape over this?