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knit me more time...
Thursday, December 09, 2004
way to rain on my parade

so, being all excited about my masters thesis defense, I forwarded the announcement (with the abstract) to some people from NY and from home. you know, people that always ask me how things are going... so here's a response I got back from someone...
"I'm also struck by how the complex language of academics actually masks the power of your research for those who aren't in the field. It strikes me as ironic that such convuluted jargon must be used to "impress." I know it to be so and am pleased you know how to do it, but you have to admit it's interesting that to be simple is considered less than "smart." That is, how would you speak to some of the old timers in [hometown] about what it is you have researched? And why is it different? Is that also culturally biased?"
Okay. So just as I am starting to feeling good about this little rite of passage in the world of academia someone has to slam some Ivory Tower shit at me. I don't even know how to respond so I'll just rant on my blog instead. Its not like I don't already feel like a fish out of water in grad school- I'm from a working class family (my dad grew up on a potato farm for crying out loud) and I have always been drawn to grassroots protests, education and activism. I mean, clearly this person has an issue with academia and what bothers me is that it is this stuff I struggle with a lot. By becoming an academic am I using "convuluted jargon" because I have to- if I didn't I wouldn't get anywhere (even though my advisor keeps telling me to simplify). But, does that mean I think simple language is not smart? Does it mean that I wouldn't also value talking to "old timers" back at home about my research? I don't think so- I always love being able to explain my research to anyone inside/outside of academia. I think it would be more interesting than hearing about some cell-level research in chemistry. Maybe not. And I guess this also goes to the whole issue of "public sociology" and whether or not academics contribute anything to society. I'd like to think I could maybe someday- write op eds or something. I'd like to think I wasn't just trying to "impress" anyone anyway. I have to stop ranting now because it is late and I am very tired. I feel kind of sad now and I don't know why exactly.

posted by knit wit | 12/09/2004 01:25:00 AM

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