Diploma day

The winding down is complete. Today is technically diploma day, and so I will say farewell to my grad school blog. Comments have been closed; though the site will remain up, I will no longer be adding new content. I’ve moved to other corners of the web. My main personal site is meganmiller.info. I sometimes tweet (@mhpmiller) and may also do a bit of blogging at mhpmiller.wordpress.com.


I decided to participate in the College of Liberal Arts graduation ceremony next month. This is mostly (though not solely) for The Daughter’s benefit. Modeling lifelong learning is a good thing, and it will be a preview of the pomp and circumstance of her upcoming kindergarten graduation. Hopefully neither she nor The Son will become too terribly bored. A smaller crowd is an unexpected benefit of not finishing up in May; fingers crossed that they keep things moving.

We used venerable regalia at Bryn Mawr, returned after the ceremony for use by future students. That was a nice tradition on a campus rife with them (some warranting a capital), and the variations in style felt pleasingly eclectic rather than mismatched. (I chose a hood with actual rabbit fur. I liked the old fashioned authenticity feeling, rabbits are neither endangered nor slaughtered in mass numbers in order to produce a single bachelor’s hood, and these particular rabbits died long ago. But I also liked the fact that those more actively concerned with animal welfare had an artificial fur option.)

This time around, I am buying regalia. This is a logistical relief and will, I suspect, provide hours of dress up fun. The robe in question will be made of post consumer recycled material. Apparently I will be wearing twenty-three plastic bottles.

I am not entirely certain how I feel about this. I approve of recycling in general. Who doesn’t like sustainability? But there is a part of me that wonders if it is symbolic in some way that everyone graduating will be clothed in trash.

AcWriMo results

I fell short of my goals, which I had purposely set to be somewhat ambitious (every “and” on the list functioned as an “or”), but I am still pleased overall. I accomplished stuff. The fact that article #1 is not quite ready to send out is less important, for my purposes, than the fact that I did not suddenly realize it was December and I had accomplished absolutely nothing during November.

AcWriMo, etc.

I signed up for AcWriMo this morning, as I was procrastinating from sending out a mostly written manuscript query. My list of goals is highly fluid and contingent–interest in an article will, for example, move the completion of said article to the top of the queue, which at the moment consists of a lot of “read up on x,” “watch YouTubes about z,” and “be reactive.” So, we’ll see.

Since I will soon officially be out of grad school, I’m going to shutter this website next month. This will basically just mean turning off comments; I’m planning to leave the blog in place for posterity. Turning off comments is, perhaps, something I should’ve done a while ago. Most posts did not generate any comments, and my attention to the blog was such that conversation was even more rare. That means that I missed the chance to have a couple of potentially interesting exchanges. It also enabled the periodic drive-by toxicity in the Bubble Guppies comment thread. (That is by far the most popular post. To date it’s generated 20,037 of the site’s 25,945 views.) The take away (or rather, the Established Fact of Internet Life which is illustrated) is that doing comments well requires effort and attention. Another take away involves reaching audiences, something I should discuss in greater detail, considering that audience engagement is kind of a big part of the whole public history thing.

Thesis defended

Yesterday, I successfully defended my thesis. (Not like this–it was, in fact, an informal and enjoyable conversation with my committee.)

Today, I am kicking off the process of getting it into Temple’s repository. (It will probably be months before it appears there, and I’ll make it available in other channels as well. On the off chance that anyone wants to read about public history/archives/digital humanities/material culture/3D printing in the meantime, ping me in comments or Twitter or wherever and I’ll send you a copy.)

On a completely random note, I am unreasonably pleased that my footnotes non-gratuitously include a material safety data sheet, two recipes, and Godzilla 1985. (Well, okay, the specific recipes may be a little gratuitous. But after a hundred plus pages, who doesn’t need some chocolate?)

“It’s just a thesis”

Having (finally) submitted a thesis draft last month, the highly attenuated process of actually finishing the damn thing is, hopefully, nearly over. This makes me pleased, not least because when I do not lapse into feeling like it’s a metaphorical weight dragging me down or a gas seeping into every free moment of my life because it is not done yet…I actually rather like my topic and look forward to the finished product.

I am used to saying “it’s just a thesis” for several reasons. Foremost is the fact that it is, indeed, just a thesis, as opposed to a dissertation. It’s a long paper. Yes, it is divided into chapters; but I am fully aware that, since the entire thesis would probably be a chapter of a dissertation, my “chapters” are adorable. Which segues into the the second reason, a sort of self-defensiveness: I’m not writing a dissertation, but I’m not stupid. And finally, there is the motivational aspect. It’s just a thesis. Sit down and bang it out.

But “it’s just a thesis” opens up the matter of divergent definitions between fields. I realized that comparatively recently when chatting with friends in STEM programs, and I am reminded of it fairly frequently when processing the Chance papers. Thesis = Ph.D requirement. Which does not mean anything beyond the fact that different fields may use different terminology for “great big research project,” but can make me stop to clarify that no, really, it is just a thesis.

Architecture and the senses

Interesting discussion of design decisions intended to help a new Gallaudet dorm meet the needs of deaf residents. I’d like to see student responses, too. But the continuing references to visibility were illuminating. Sightlines are obviously a priority if you’re using ASL, but I am also used to thinking of a general cultural emphasis on vision, with it trumping (though not excluding) the importance of other senses in many scenarios. The ways in which common design decisions interrupt vision speaks not only to ableism but a less absolute hierarchy of sensual interaction with the environment.

(Via @JMarkOckerbloom)

Stuff in Boston

There’s a post up at History@Work about the Boston Marathon bombing memorial. It’s written by Matthew Barlow, who’s very interested in space, which IMHO is a good perspective from which to approach such a subject. Memorial Mania came to mind, not simply because this memorial is exactly the sort of thing Doss would’ve included, but because observations about the intensely digital and personalized mediation of events arise in the case of this memorial.* The impact of, say, TV broadcasts has been hashed over for a few decades now; everybody recording, texting, and tweeting is a comparatively fresh phenomenon, and there is a real difference (albeit not a sea change) between 2010 and 2013.

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