Tuesday, 7 August 2012

thesis submitted for examination

This time last week, I submitted my doctoral thesis for examination! It is still sinking in. I would've liked to have gone to sleep for a week, but alas - I have classes to teach and a part-time Learning & Teaching Projects Manager job that needs doing to pay the bills, so I haven't really slowed down yet. I do have a feeling that something is missing though - a kind of guilt that I've had over the last couple of years has vanished. The guilt came when I was doing things that were not associated with the dissertation. Even when it was productive stuff (publications, teaching, RA work, going to conferences) there was still a little internal voice that was telling me all of this other stuff was a distraction - 'just work on the dissertation'. Now, that voice is gone. It has been replaced by another voice... 'what will the examiners think of it?'.

The last sofa is still just out of reach while I wait for the reports to come back. Until then, I think I'll bask in the relief for a while.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Mediated Youth Culutres

I meant to post this at the end of May when this was first released, but better late than never! The special issue of Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies that I have been working on with my supervisor, Andy Bennett, is now online. This issue brings together 13 articles that make visible an international and cross-disciplinary research agenda concerned with mediated youth cultures: 

  1. "‘Connect and create’: Young people, YouTube and Graffiti communities" by Ben Light, Marie Griffiths & Siân Lincoln
  2. "The pedagogy of regret: Facebook, binge drinking and young women" by Rebecca Brown and Melissa Gregg
  3. "‘Individuality is everything’: ‘autonomous’ femininity in MySpace mottos and self-descriptions" by Amy Shields Dobson
  4. "Leaving MySpace, joining Facebook: ‘Growing up’ on social network sites" by Brady Robards
  5. "Female Pressure: A translocal feminist youth-oriented cultural network" by Rosa Reitsamer
  6. "From Punks to Post-Hipsters: Exploring Subcultural Models Of A Youth Net-Radio Hierarchy" by Andrea Baker
  7. "To Write Love through the indie imaginary: The narrative argument of a mediated movement" by Ryan M. Milner
  8. "The Outlaws of Psytrance in the Time of the Vibe-Tribes" by Graham St John
  9. "Breaking expectations: Imagined affinities in mediated youth cultures" by Mary Fogarty
  10. "Sexting, Consent and Young People’s Ethics: Beyond Megan’s Story" by Kath Albury and Kate Crawford
  11. "The landscape of keitai shôsetsu: Mobile phones as a literary medium among Japanese youth" by Kyoung-hwa Yonnie Kim
  12. "A Generational Thing? The Internet and New Forms of Social Intercourse" by Fredrik Miegel and Tobias Olsson
  13. "Mediating culture in transnational spaces: An example of young people from refugee backgrounds" by Raelene Wilding
My co-editor, Andy Bennett and I would like to thank all of the above contributors for their work. We would also like to thank the many reviewers who provided valuable, constructive feedback on earlier versions of these articles. We hope you enjoy!

Friday, 27 April 2012

social network sites and belonging for young 'at risk' Australians

Yfoundations (peak body for youth homelessness in Australia) have published an essay I wrote for them as a blog. Not 100% suitable as a blog post (was written as an essay for their old journal), but the argument is the same.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The value of reviewing academic monographs

I came across this article via the twitters today, titled 'Why Bother Writing Book Reviews?' The author, Rachel Toor, asks us 'Is the time spent reviewing other people's books more important than writing your own stuff, making your own contributions?' 

Modified stock image c/o thekellyscope
While she points out a few positives associated with reviewing books, especially in disciplines where like mine (social sciences) where the academic monograph is the entry point into academic life, she concludes by saying that no - you shouldn't bother with book reviews: 'It's better to write one good article than to review 20 books, and even better to write one good book'. While I agree with the sentiment that sometimes the monograph and book review 'sausage factories' are not always the best uses of our time, writing book reviews can actually be very valuable for emerging scholars (grad students/postgrads) like myself.

While reading the article, I initially felt a slight twinge of regret at having written five book reviews over the past few years (OMG WHAT A WASTE OF TIME?!), but then I reflected on the positives:
  1. I got some free books, and for a poor postgraduate, books are sometimes better than food.
  2. My name and some of my thoughts made their way into some stellar journals. I have two review essays in New Media & Society, for instance, one of the leading journals in my field that I dream of getting an article into one day. Sure, as Toor points out, maybe nobody will ever read those review essays. However...
  3. ...I get a surprising number of 'hits' on the review essays I've uploaded to my academia.edu profile.  People are searching for book titles or keywords and coming across my work through these book reviews. My guess is that a few of those hits are students googling for quick ways to summarise a book for an assignment, or maybe the authors googling themselves, but I suspect a few are simply from people interested in a subject area who have come across my essay and perhaps even glanced over my other work.
  4. Probably most importantly, the task of a book review (with a deadline attached!) makes me read critically and with depth, and then produce something coherent from that reading. This is something all emerging scholars/grad students/postgrads should be encouraged to do. Most do undertake this kind of exercise by way of notes that never get read again. Writing a formal book review, however, makes you articulate yourself with an audience in mind... and someone might read it!
  5. Finally, beyond the vague 'networking' and 'marketing yourself' rubbish above, I've actually established some real dialogues with the authors of the books I've reviewed. I was very humbled to get an email from one author who thanked me for my review (even the critical bits!) and asked me about my own work. I've also since worked with another author whose edited collection I reviewed. He contributed to a special issue I've been working on. (This is also why you shouldn't bee overly critical in your review essay, and never cruel or nasty).
So, yes. There are these positives, but there may be other more important things postgrads should be working on: fieldwork, a chapter of your dissertation, converting a chapter into a journal article, an important conference presentation, going out on a date, cooking dinner. Don't throw out the idea of writing a book review or five, though. You might be surprised by the outcome.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

a 2011 retrospective

What a year! I'm coming to the end of my one year full-time contract at Griffith now (filling in for Dr B while she was on research leave) and I'm heading back in to life as a sessional while I finish off my PhD. It was a busy year with its ups and downs, where I tried to develop my profile in a few areas for the job hunt ahead.

In terms of teaching, I'm very happy with how all of my courses went in 2011. The teams involved in Youth & Society and Social Sciences in Australia did a fantastic job, and it was a pleasure working alongside my friends and colleagues: Adele, Bob, Chris, Raphael and Shanene. In Social Sciences in Aus, it was a great pleasure to use the new textbook 'Think Sociology', which I collaborated on with Dr B and a team of sociologists from around Australia. The smaller course Youth Culture and Subculture, which I delivered myself, was also a joy, and it was great to work with the third-years on their small-scale ehtnographies. This course is a tribute to Dr B's marvellous skills in designing an advanced course. It ran like a dream! In addition to positive anecdotal evidence and feedback from students, all our courses performed very well in their formal evaluations, ranking highly in comparison to other courses in the academic group.

Social Sciences in Aus team - Bob, myself, and Raphael (rent-a-fence not included)

My service in 2011 was dominated by my role as First Year Advisor to the School of Humanities, which was thoroughly enjoyable. From fielding timetabling questions before matriculation at the beginning of my contract through to helping students heading in to their second year with selecting majors right up until Christmas, it has been a very busy and rewarding role. I'm proud of the retention strategies we've implemented (with my colleague from Nathan campus, Wendy), along with the various steps we've taken to improve the first year experience in all three of our programs - the Bachelor of Communications, Bachelor of Journalism and the Bachelor of Arts.

I've met and built relationships with so many inspiring scholars over the past year, both nationally, at events like the Griffith Uni Cultural Research Postgraduate Symposium and the annual meeting of The Australian Sociological Association, and internationally, at my first Internet Researchers conference in Seattle, IR12.

Dr Erika in Seattle, with friendly cushion
New #ir12 buddies!

I'm very excited about progress made on two projects I'm working on with my supervisor Andy Bennett, the first being a special issue of Continuum on 'Mediated Youth Cultures' featuring thirteen thoroughly fascinating articles on topics including YouTube graffiti communities, MySpace mottos, youth net-radio, sexting, Japanese novels consumed on mobile phones, and transnational youth refugee networks. One of my own articles, titled "Leaving MySpace, joining Facebook: ‘Growing up’ on social network sites", will also be in the special issue. It has been such a pleasure working with Andy, the contributors and the external reviewers on this project. More on this when it is published hopefully in June. The other project is a book proposal for an edited collection on the same topic, again featuring an international assortment of fantastic scholarship, but the proposal is still under review so more on that front at a later date.

Anyway, this post is already a mile too long, but I shall end by saying that I've also made some solid progress on my thesis over what others call 'the break'. I've had a couple of things come out, and I've also got a couple of new journal articles in the pipes too, so I haven't had to sacrifice too much of 'my own' work/research given the above. In all, a productive year, I think!