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Blog: Mandatory Days

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I've spent most of the past couple of days back at SCHOOL for Mandatory College Days for my PhD. The experience was something of a MIXED BAG.

Day one was (SPOILERS) RUBBISH. All of us first year PhD students sat in a big room while a selection of second years gave brief talks about their research areas. None of them were talking about anything relevant to MY topic, but hey, that's all fine - we were there to ENGAGE with RESEARCH and so forth, and who knows where you will find something interesting that will spark off yr BRANE? The problem was that it was all done in such a THUNDEROUSLY DULL way, with nearly ALL of them just reading off a piece of paper in a dreadful monotone, that the sole result was to make me FLIPPING FURIOUS! Surely the BLOOMING POINT of doing research is to share your findings with people, and if you want to do that then you have to be able to ACTUALLY PRESENT IT PROPERLY. I know not everybody likes doing it, and if I go to a talk at WORK or something when somebody has been FORCED into giving a presentation then it's understandable if it's not exactly a GLITZY SHOWBIZ EVENT, but these were people giving up 3 to 6 years of their LIVES to find something out, who can't apparently be bothered to spend a couple of hours planning out their talk properly so they can AT LEAST make EYE CONTACT with the audience who are forced to sit through it.

At one point I got SO VERY BORED and IRATE that I decided to write down some of the LUDICROUS words that were being bandied about. Here's what I got, all within half an hour:
Contemporaneous Utilisation Process Multiplicity Inherent Implicit Conceptualise Interrogate Retrospectively Challenging Practice Assertions Methodology Navigate The Space The Work Analogous Shorthand Performative Positional Response Representation Marginality Materiality

Obviously those words are all FINE in their proper context (i.e. written down in an academic paper) or used SPARINGLY but when you have to sit through a CONSTANT BARRAGE of them intoned like LATIN PRAYERS is it any wonder that people (ME) become ENRAGED? It made me so angry that I did not leave ENTIRELY POSITIVE FEEDBACK. THAT is how angry I was!

The next day was MUCH better, as it started off with two presentations by people who LOOKED at us while they were talking and used ACTUAL HUMAN LANGUAGE with the intention of EXPLAINING things to us so we would UNDERSTAND. They were both talking about Methods and also Methodology, which everyone goes on about ALL THE TIME when one is filling in one's FORMS at this stage, but which no-one ever tells you what they MEAN. For instance, the second speaker said "asking what your methods are is like asking how you are going to DO it all." Written down now that seems blindingly obvious, but when he said it you could feel the entire room breath a sigh of relief and say "Oh YEAH, of course! PHEW!"

Over lunch me and the other Comics Guys (yes, we are all men, surprising isn't it?) had a chat about STUFF then ended up in the same group for a session on LEXICONS. We had to read out words common to our RESEARCH, so while everybody else had stuff like "contextualise" and "autoethnography" we had "superhero" and "supervillain". The course leader read our list out and said "You've got 'comics' AND 'graphic novels' here, surely that's the same thing?" To my delight half the ROOM let out a GROAN OF TERROR, not just us. "You do NOT want to get into that," I said, for LO! you really don't.

It was actually all Quite Interesting and Worth Bothering With, especially as we managed to fit in a chat about a SYMPOSIUM (oh yes!) what we might be organising about Comics And That. By the end of the day my BRANE was KNACKERED, but in a GOOD way, so I went home and watched THE LEGO MOVIE in order to recover. It worked - in fact I'd go so far as to say that it's contemporaneous utilisiation of the hypothetical space was inherently challenging to the normative materiality of conventional representation/shorthand in this kind of performative response. I just wish the theme so wasn't so flipping catchy, I was singing it in my BRANE all night!

posted 8/2/2017 by MJ Hibbett

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posted 8/2/2017 by Tim

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