This page includes detailed information on projects and assignments from my coursework as I pursue my MA in Communication, Culture, and Technology at Georgetown.
My avatar relates to my keyword, “stories,” through three avenues. The first is form. Rockets are instruments of discovery that capture the imagination of those who see them. They conjure thoughts of humans and technology, narratives, the future, and science-- interests of mine. This particular rocket doesn't look too serious, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously. The second avenue is icons. The rocket houses three symbolic constellations. The question mark represents my commitment to exploring the world of stories through stories. The clock demonstrates my wonder in how stories take us away from here and now. The third depicts social networks and deals with the relationship forming power of stories. The final avenue is utility. Throughout the semester I will fill the rocket with timestamped quotes and profound ideas I encounter and in December I will reflect on them and my intellectual development, thus inviting change.
Word Count: 149
I learned a lot this semester! Here is a sample of the reading I did this semester that informed my work both in and out of my CCTP: 505: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Problems and Methods course. Note that these are in order of impact on me and my work rather than alphabetical to help communicate a sense of what most interests me.
Zerubavel, E. (1985). Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life. University of
This book not only informed how I understood my guiding keyword for 505, stories, but also has served as the theoretical ground for two manuscripts I am preparing for publication. I am only just beginning to understand the monumental power of temporal functions on the social world, and I am eager to continue exploring the sociology of time.
Gottschalk, S., & Whitmer, J. (2016). Hypermodern Dramaturgy in Online Encounters In C.
Edgley (Ed.), The Drama of Social Life: A Dramaturgical Handbook (pp. 309–334).
This entire edited work, with this article in particular, renewed my interests in Goffman's dramaturgy, particularly dramaturgical notions of self and the concept of impression management. Gottschalk's work has helped show me how dramaturgy, and the associated field of symbolic interactionism are as relevant as ever in an increasingly digital world. There is much to explore.
Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society (Vol. 111). University of Chicago Press.: Chicago.
Up until this semester I had read a lot about Mead but now I got to read the big man myself. I have often heard an adage used to describe Mead's scholarship "Society shapes self shapes interaction" and I now have a sense of how profoundly meaningful that sentiment is.
Gottschalk, S. (1999). Speed Culture: Fast Strategies in Televised Commercial Ads. Qualitative
Sociology; New York, 22(4), 311–329. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1022007721264
This article isn't quite as earth shattering as the other above but it really impacted me by demonstrating a methodology for exploring "speed culture" through television advertisements helped inspire my study to study ideologies about time through digital calendars. Speed and time are highly entangled and this exploration helped me see how I could approach my study.
Markham, A. (2016). The Dramaturgy of Digital Experience. In Charles Edgley (Ed.), The
Drama of Social Life: A Dramaturgical Handbook (pp. 279–293). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
The self in the digital world is a primary research interest of mine and this text brings one of the theories I deal with regularly, dramaturgy, into that discussion. This article could be helpful for beginning literature reviews in future projects about the online self/online performances of self.
Kalekin-Fishman, D. (2013). Sociology of everyday life. Current Sociology, 61(5–6), 714–732.
This article is a wonderful overview from various theoretical backgrounds, methodological orientations, and disciplinary approaches to studying everyday life (an element of the social world that strongly relates to my interests).
Carter, M. J., & Fuller, C. (2016). Symbols, meaning, and action: The past, present, and future of
symbolic interactionism. Current Sociology, 64(6), 931–961. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392116638396
This article helped bring me up to date with current literature and discussions in symbolic interactionism.
Williams, R. (1961). The Long Revolution. Penguin Books Ltd.
This book taught me more about culture than I thought could be encompassed by the keyword. Though my research doesn't attack culture head on, the concept is a major player in my interests in meaning and meaning-making, so this book will certainly help me in the future.
McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: The extensions of man. MIT press.
McLuhan's famous phrase "The medium is the message" has influenced a lot of my work on the self online and stories in digital media. His conception of technology as an extension of self has further informed my thoughts about my surroundings and the technology with which I engage every day.
Debord, G. (1995). D. Nicholson-Smith (Trans.). The Society of the Spectacle. Zone Books.
Though I am still grappling to achieve a masterful understanding of it, Debord's concept of the spectacle is absolutely fascinating and highly relevant to my interests in pop culture.
Striphas, T. (2016). Culture. In B. Peter (Ed.) Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information
Society & Culture. Princeton University Press.
This is only one chapter from a volume that I loved reading this semester. Because I used this chapter on the keyword "culture" I was exposed a wealth of literature from Foucault to Williams which helped develop my understanding of one of the most complicated concepts in social science.
Stryker, S. (2008). From Mead to a Structural Symbolic Interactionism and Beyond. Annual Review
of Sociology, 34(1), 15–31. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134649
In this article, Stryker dialogs with Mead to develop identity theory which explores why people fulfill certain roles over others in given circumstances. Styker's theoretical and methodological moves in this article taught me a lot.
Polletta, F., Chen, P. C. B., Gardner, B. G., & Motes, A. (2011). The Sociology of Storytelling.
Annual Review of Sociology, 37, 109–130. JSTOR.
This article is a fantastic summary of sociological approaches to storytelling as both a subject and method of research. It would likely have a home in any sociological inquiry into storytelling.
Collins, R. (2020). Social distancing as a critical test of the micro-sociology of solidarity. American
Journal of Cultural Sociology, 8(3), 477–497. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41290-020-00120-z
This article revisits a theory that greatly influenced my intellectual development as an undergraduate: Randall Collins' interaction ritual theory. By revisiting the theory in 2020, Collins discusses the implications of digitally mediated communication on solidarity and individual senses of belonging. This article helped inform my research into the impacts of increasingly online performances of self and the sociotemporal order.
Riessman, C. K. (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. SAGE.
Narrative and stories are deceptively simple concepts. Reissman unpacks them and employs them in research methods in ways that have informed scores of scholars in narrative related inquiry.
Shifman, L. (2014). Memes in Digital Culture. MIT Press.
After reading Shifman's entry in Peter's Digital Keywords, I had to learn more about memes. One of my current projects included analysis of memes so this book was critical to developing a scholarly orientation towards them and learning how to use them in research.
Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. University of Edinburgh Social
Science Research Center.
I have read this text before in bits and pieces but I'd never done a deep dive into Goffman's dramaturgical framework until this year. It will certainly continue to inform my research.
Carey, J. (1989). Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Routledge.
This book covers so much ground that I cannot begin to synthesize it, but Carey provides a lot of insight into the relationship between communication and culture.
Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (2011). The Social Foundations of Human Experience. Inside Social Life: Readings in Sociological Psychology and Microsociology, 7-14.
This is an abbreviated version of an article on the top of my must-read list. Berger and Luckman draw on a variety of theories in order to present a fascinating picture of human history and the ground on which human life unfolds.
Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures (Vol. 5019). Basic books.
I haven't read this text yet but it was referenced over and over in my reading. Though it falls more into anthropology than sociology, I will be reading this book over the 2020 winter break.
It is now December I have changed a lot since I developed my avatar three months ago and the function of filling the rocket with notes and ideas helped accommodate this change nicely. At present, the physical form of the avatar still reflects my professional identity, but the ways in which it does so are more refined and in accordance with my interests as they grow more established. I am now able to identify my research interests into three "bins" that are all represented in the rocket. The first is stories and storytelling, still embodied by the "?" constellation. The second is the sociology of time, embodied by the clock constellation. The third is symbolic interactionism, embodied by the entire system of my rocket as a symbol for my personal and professional identity. It is a sort of cultural artifact that one interprets within the context of their past knowledge and experiences. I will continue to add notes to the rocket until it is full or feels right to review and reflect.