I have a 10 page paper due on Friday. I’m supposed to present my paper topic tomorrow at 6 p.m. (though the paper doesn’t have to be completed). So far, I have zero pages written, and am still trying to narrow down from three possible topics:
1. The rhetoric of Barak Obama and the sibaltan (as referenced by Gramsci). What groups are being overlooked in this election? Is Obama speaking for anyone to a damaging effect? Does his rhetoric prevent others from learning the language of power? The current rhetorical tug-of-war between the Clinton and Obama campaigns (and even more so those who are outside the campaigns) is precedent setting because for the first time we have a black politician who could represent people who have otherwise been the sibaltan. But anyone (historian, investigator, politician) must avoid speaking for the sibaltan. The sibaltan must learn the language of power for him/herself, and in doing so, will no longer be a sibaltan.
2. Michael Ignatieff’s theory of “historical needs” and how changes in language effect our human emotional needs. Ignatieff writes that if we lose the linguistic ability to articulate a need, we will cease to feel that need. My source (Kenneth A. Brufree. “Social Construction, Language, and the Authority of Knowledge: A Bibliographical Essay” College English December 1986.) tells me that Ignatieff explored this idea through words like fraternity, belonging and community. I would explore our current concepts of contentment, satisfaction or even intimacy. How have our ways of conceptualizing these things, indeed the very way we feel these things, changed as their meanings have been modified over time?
3. The pedagogical concept of in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) and how it jives with ancient teacher/philosophers like Quintilian but conflicts with efforts to eliminate the heirarchical structure of education. Paulo Freire advocates the concept of teacher-student and student-teachers; Quintilian encourages teachers to adopt the role of a parent towards students.
Anybody have any preferences? Not that it really matters because hopefully I’ll have settled on one and made some good progress by the time anyone responds to this. The truth is that no matter what I choose, this paper will be a “gloss over” of the issue. These topics are much too large to deal with at an in-depth level in 10 pages. But, they’re a good start.
The only reason I’m boring you with all of this is that it helps me to clarify what my options are when I write about them. And knowing that I told *everyone* about this paper makes me feel a bit more accountable to actually getting it done… er, started. My old roommate Jaime will be proud that I even got this far with more than a day left before it is due. She remembers me pounding out 8-pagers the night before they were due and, in the process, driving everyone around me crazy. I was not an easy roommate to live with, I am sure.
On a happier note, this is the last paper for the last “class-class” for my degree. This summer I’m doing an independent study that should produce one large paper and loads of research that I’ll be able to use for my exit papers. Then in the fall, I’ll write 2-3 exit papers, and then I’ll be FINISHED!! So essentially, this is my fourth-to-last paper to write for my Master’s Degree.
And on that note, I have to send out a *huge* CONGRATULATIONS to my friend “J” who successfully defended her thesis this morning. What a huge accomplishment. She has every reason to be proud of herself, as she has worked very, very hard this past year. Way to go, J! That will be me in about 8 months!