Since I started teaching full-time at Longwood University in August, I have had to focus on course preparation, the transition to new job, new routine, new institutional culture, and completing and defending my dissertation, which I did in October over Longwood’s fall break.
No time for blogging. Not much time for anything really, except the job. But I was “hooded” in a December graduation ceremony – officially becoming a Doctor of Philosophy in Media, Art, and Text.
Being “hooded” sounds creepy, but I found it to be a cool ritual. I walked into the ceremony as part of the formal procession of faculty and graduates, carrying my academic hood over my arm like a four-star waiter’s towel. During the graduation ceremony, my name was called, I walked forward, gave the hood to Dr. Kathy Bassard, chair of VCU’s English Department, and turned around so she could drape it over my neck and arrange it behind me.
Because she’s shorter than I am, I had to kneel down slightly – which added to the ritual of the moment. Being hooded felt like a sort of soft-cloth knighting ceremony – with roots back into the Middle Ages and the birth of universities within monasteries.
My parents, my husband and my daughter were in the audience as witnesses, as well as several professors and some MATX’ers I’ve been in seminars with.
Also in attendance was the chair of my dissertation commitee, Dr. Noreen Barnes, who let me wear her academic tam instead of the standard-issue mortarboard VCU had given me. Not only was the tam more attractive – the fact that she let me borrow it for the ceremony was a nice symbolic gesture. As an Associate Professor in VCU’s Theatre Department, she knows the value of ritual and gesture.
So now that I’ve completed the MATX PhD program, the question becomes – how do I stay fresh and engaged with my field so my classes in Communication Studies at Longwood stay fresh? And, given the interdisciplinary nature of the MATX degree, what constitutes my field? What journals do I follow and what conferences do I attend? Is that even the path I will take as an academic?
Those questions are why – although I could have spent the day grading the design projects I took in on Wednesday or working on notes for the Communication Theory class I’m teaching – instead I spent the morning investigating professional associations and journals.
One I may join simply because I love the fact that they meet every March in Orlando, Florida, and cover topics like: “Gender and Feminism in Science Fiction”, “Staging Monstrosity” and “Terrifying Futures: Post-Apocalyptic, Post-Human Dystopias” … The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts
Who do I want to become as a writer, media producer, and scholar?