Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Do you feel marked by your own training? I do.

What I mean is that I feel so intensely as if I am a product of the period in which I took my BA. The early-mid '90s. I can't escape it. I'm imprinted. I just wrote this conference paper and I kept wanting to move into another discourse/register. Because I just started writing and waited to see what unfolded - always my writing style, for better or (more probably) worse - it felt as if I was watching myself be carried, against my will, back into this framework I was trying to move away from. I know I am making it sound as if I have no agency in the process, and of course I don't mean to suggest that. But I must say that I do find it fascinating, the way my "knowledge," or more accurately, my academic socialization, trump my wishes to turn my scholarship from X into Y. I have a strongly conditioned way of knowing, and working outside of that proves to be very difficult. I think I'm going to have to just live with that. Especially since my attempts to move into another register fail. I suspect I shall forever be defined by a kind of wispy abstraction that I both semi-deplore and am also seduced by. Ah, well.


K said...

I think "scarred" might be a better word for me, but yes, I do feel imprinted upon by my training. I struggle to follow my own voice sometimes when it goes against the "rules" of that training. I'll be interested to read what others have to say. For me, it's a trade-off between what I really want to write and what I feel I have to write, sometimes.

Psychgrad said...

It's interesting because I often feel like other areas of research are so much more flexible and allow for a range of writing styles. Maybe not?

Occasionally, I will write a sentence/paragraph/section that is more creative or a bit outside of the box. Although I'll get excited about the creative portions, they usually only last about a day until I re-read it and delete it.

Brigindo said...

I so relate to this post. Lately I've really been feeling that the type of research I'm engaged with now, which is fundamentally different from the research I was involved with during my training, requires a different framework for writing. I've been struggling at my first real attempt to write an entire paper outside of my framework. It is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It is also much more time-consuming for me and reminds me of what it felt like when I was first learning to write an academic paper.

Hilaire said...

K and Psychgrad - For me, it's not so much that I feel compelled to follow disciplinary conventions...just that the very way I conceive of and articulate things is shaped by a couple of approaches. I think it's less angst-ridden and convention-bound than what you both describe, and in that I am lucky. That's interdisciplinarity for you!

Brigindo - Well, it's nice to hear about someone who's making a transition to a new voice/approach work for her...even if it is a struggle. It's inspiring.

kermitthefrog said...

Hilaire, I know exactly what you mean. In particular, my undergrad training was marked by extremely formalist criticism, which on the upside means that I can do a wicked good close reading, but writing a more historical chapter is freaking me out. It wasn't any conscious decision, simply that my writing falls "naturally" (or rather, as you put it socialized-ly) into a certain style and method. And I wasn't exactly pushed to take grad classes that would expand my horizons in that particular way.