Hello, Friday! It’s been not a bad week, I must say. I can’t tell you that I did a whole heck of a lot of real productive work on my thesis project, but I DID get my GREB application submitted on-time (only to find that Cultural Studies has now established a Unit REB, only failed to convey that information to CS students!) (and sorry, non-grad school folks who may not know what I’m on about!).
It has, however, been a great week for people and ideas (“which is the stuff of grad school, right?” she asked, desperately trying to justify it). I took advantage of having a visiting professor in town. Though it was a little daunting at times, I had an interesting time listening to N. Katherine Hayles, in town from Duke University, speak in a number of different contexts at Queen’s. Though she delivered a lecture on Thursday afternoon that flew by, miles over my head (though I did grasp and enjoy the first bit of it!), she gave another one last night that was quite a bit easier to follow. Called ‘In the Shadows of Surveillance: Secret Codes in the Telegraph Era’, Hayles spoke for about an hour about the development of telegraph technology and the various ways in which language was codified for transmission over cable. Then this morning, Prof. Hayles hosted a more informal chat, 2-hour-long chat with a small group of students and profs.
I will admit that at times I felt a little frustrated with the experience of partaking in these lectures/discussions. I felt frustrated with myself a lot, because I didn’t really have the background that a lot of the other participants (particularly people working in the pure social sciences) had. I felt frustrated with my own lack of knowledge, though at the same time, slightly buoyed by that feeling one gets when realizing that there is just SO MUCH to learn about in this crazy world.
All in all, though, I enjoyed the experience of being encircled by ideas and conversation…even if I wasn’t always able to articulate my own thoughts enough to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. I was, however, a little dismayed by the lack of turn out from the Queen’s student body. Here was this significant thinker in town from Duke University, with only a handful of graduate students out to hear her talk. Even at last night’s public lecture, there couldn’t have been more than 20 people in the audience.
Are we already totally burnt out? Are there too many things going on on-campus? Or is the problem really the lack of centralized information source? Did people merely not know about the event?
I should get back to work. I’ve got articles to write, things to read, and if I don’t get some exercise this afternoon, I worry that my head may blow off.