Proposed Panel for ASTR on Trans*

I am so humbled and honored to have been asked to put together a proposal for a conference panel at this year’s ASTR together with inimitable burlesque and striptease experts Kirsten Pullen and Jessica Berson. (Don’t miss Jessica’s new book The Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business which promises to be a field-changer!)

The conference for this year’s ASTR conference is Trans*, and our panel specifically presents recovered narratives (through paper presentation) and then brainstorms how we might use them in our scholarship, teaching, and academic service (through a managed roundtable). Together, we will investigate how and why contemporary articulations of trans* performance rewrite narratives of drag, queerness, masculinity, and heteronormativity.

My own contribution is recovering, recontextualizing, and re-centering a Bobby Morris’s herstory. Here’s my part of the abstract:

In 1937, Bobby Morris, lead comic in a burlesque show at the 42nd Street Apollo Theatre who had been known since vaudeville decided to fill a spot for one of the sick strippers. He put on her gown, picked up her big red fan and went out on the stage to strip. As Bobby Morris was performing, the pansy craze was raging outside. David Dressler’s 1937 dissertation on the burlesque audience confirms that the borders between the alleged heterosexual inside of the burlesque theatres and the queer “underworld” on the streets of Times Square were permeable if not even non-existent.

I argue that we should interpret Morris’s performance within the gender system set up by the pansy craze, and (with the help of Dressler) conjecture a different performance and reception of Bobby Morris’ performance within a trans* framework. While we could consider Morris’s performance part of the history of female impersonation, female impersonators such as Julian Eltinge often created diva performances of a “good,” middle-class femininity. Morris and other stripping men on the stage, chose a different form of feminine performance; a monstrous working-class femininity, borrowing from the longer history of female burlesque performers.

Digital Humanities in Theatre and Performance Studies

In November, I attended ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research), an incredibly inspiring conference in the field of theatre and performance studies. The theme of the conference this year was “Debating the Stakes in Theatre and Performance Scholarship,” and panels ranged from debating food in performance (the steaks in theatre and performance…) to the politics of performance.

This past year or so I’ve been accepting and coming out in all my nerdiness—and hesitantly been entering into conversations in the field we call “digital humanities.” Whether it’s a field, a set of methods spanning different disciplines, or even its own discipline is still quite up in the air—see Svensson 2010 for an interesting conversation on that, which includes HASTAC!

At the conference, there were some really interesting strides to make the discipline of Theatre and Performance Studies, especially in a North American context, move in the direction of digital methods, projects, and theories. Specifically, I’d like to share some of my experiences in this post about my participation in one working group, my attendance in another working group, a panel presentation, and a meeting which laid some groundwork for a summer institute.

My conference attendance began with the first working group called “The Stakes of Digital Scholarship of Theatre and Performance.” It was organized around lightning talks by all the 20-something participants on projects spanning many different questions and examples — from Twitter theatre to the Transborder Immigrant Tool. The latter was presented by Ashley Ferro-Murray, a former HASTAC Scholar who, among many other fantastic projects, has created a choreographic interpretation of the project.

The following day, back to back, were my own workshop—on digital methods in theatre and performance research—and a panel on big data in theatre history.

My own working group, “Digital Methods: Collaboration, Evaluation, and Access in Digital Theatre Scholarship,” focused specifically on questions around collaboration and standards for evaluation of digital projects in research on theatre and performance. We began our 2-hour session with an hour-long demo session of our projects. I presented the beginnings of my dissertation project on boylesque and male-identified striptease dancers. Following our demos, we had a productive conversation about the importance of standards when it comes to developing a digital humanities-inflected research agenda in our field.

Immediately after our working group session, I went to the panel presentation on “Theatre History and the Stakes of Big Data.” (I storified it here.) There were certainly threads in the panel where one could make the argument that “DH + theatre/performance = quantitative research.” Derek Miller’s very impressive Visualizing Broadway project is case in point, illustrating the value of visualizing large bodies of statistics over years.

But both Debra Caplan’s use of big data to study and visualize the Yiddish Vilna Theatre Troupe using d3js, and Jeffrey Ravel’s distant reading of receipts, attendance, and plays from the Comedie Francaise in the Comedie Francaise Registers Project illustrate how we can use these methods to tell a more intricate story with a combination of qualitative and quantitative data.

Finally, I participated in a meeting to lay some groundwork for a summer institute that would include the two major organizations for theatre researchers in the U.S. coming together in a grant application. The meeting was led by the incredible David Saltz — I was star struck and had the awesome opportunity to steal some moments with him after the meeting to talk to him about our mutual love for HyperCard. We’re continuing our work and are submitting our grant application in the next couple of months.

What’s next? We will further develop the ideas generated at ASTR at the HASTAC 2016 Conference roundtable conversation on “An Archive and Repertoire of Digital Humanities and Media Projects in the Performing Arts.” I also hope this will lead to further opportunities. I will also be at DHSI and would love to see conversations around performance studies and DH happening there. Will any of you be there?

Word Cloud from ASTR 2015

I created a word cloud from the 300 most common words in the titles of the talks and papers at ASTR this year. I removed the words “theatre” and “performance” as these would have dominated the visualization entirely. There are some really interesting interpretations of this visualization, I believe, and some conclusions to be drawn.

Considering the theme of the conference, the stakes of theatre and performance scholarship, we can see some of the more interesting words emerging from this image:

*) feminist
*) black
*) transnational
*) collaboration
*) digital
*) public
*) labor
*) women

astr-2015-word-cloud

Methodology for Mapping Project

In this post, I will describe the process of bringing tweets from over the past year into a single heat map with interactive (clickable) tweets displaying more information. Most importantly perhaps, in what follows I will also readily discuss the flaws and problems of the methodology, in order to hopefully gain some insights into how to change the methodology to make this part of my project more interesting.

1. TAGS

TAGS is described by its creator Martin Hawksey as “a free Google Sheet template which lets you setup and run automated collection of search results from Twitter.” It really is a script written in JavaScript for collecting tweets. The script is requesting the latest tweets, every hour, from the Twitter REST API. I used it to collect the tweets over a year mentioning the search terms:

  • boylesque
  • male strip1
  • male striptease1
  • male stripclub1
  • Male Erotic Dancing1
  • male revue1
  • #malestriptease1

All of those tweets were collected in (two separate) Google Docs spreadsheets. As of October 28, I have collected 22,683 tweets (9,511 + 13,172).

Note: some bugs in the script creates some double entries of the same tweets into the spreadsheet. They’re easy to identify as every tweet has an ID assigned from Twitter, which makes it easy to sort them out. More about that below.

Note: Some tweets overlap with Instagram posts but I haven’t implemented any other APIs at this point, on top of the Twitter API, which means that there will be some overlap in the future, should I choose to implement the Instagram API, for instance.

2. Export the tweets, import and mapping onto a mysql database

The tweet spreadsheet was exported as a .csv file into a MySQL database, set up by myself on servers hosted by Dreamhost. I chose Dreamhost as they allow for remote access, so I could use a desktop client to administer the databases.

Note: Step 1 and 2 could be combined into one, if I wrote my own cron script that would run every hour requesting the same information as TAGS. I chose to use Hawksey’s TAGS because of the expedience in setting it up. Rather than having to program the code myself, the script is already set up and ready to go in a Google Doc.

Note: I could have used phpMyAdmin to administer the database but prefer to use a desktop client as it’s faster to handle.

3. Clean up some of the data

I was in need to removing some duplicate data that existed, because of some programming error in Hawksey’s script, in my own data. I set up the MySQL database with a UNIQUE key for the tweet ID column, which means that the import feature of MySQL will automatically disregard any duplicate values for any entries. (Note: it doesn’t actually disregard but produce an error; in this case, however, the error is in fact desired.)

In this step, I also made sure to do some manual cleanup of the data that was necessary by going over the ~8,000 unique tweets I ended up with after the procedure with the UNIQUE key to see if any tweets were unintentionally cut off, or containing characters that were encoded in a different format, for instance. (Note: I made sure that both the CSV file and the database were UTF-16 encoded to be able to include a few tweets written in Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, etc.)

Note: Hawksey’s script contains an option to wipe duplicate entries but that didn’t work so I needed a solution for this.

4. Pull user data from the database of tweets

One of the columns in my data contained the user ID for the tweeter behind the tweet. I wrote a PHP script to pull the unique user IDs, and then their respective affiliated tweet IDs from the MySQL database, and add these to a separate table to reduce the amount of queries necessary in step 5 below.

5. Request the user info from the Twitter API

For each of the unique user IDs, I submit 100 requests at a time to the Twitter API, since I am interested in pulling the location for the user who has tweeted

Note: this is a step I actually have had to do manually as of now because I haven’t written a cron script to perform this part of the process, since there needs to be some time in between the requests to the Twitter REST API.

Note: This step is where the ethical and the methodological aspects of my method become somewhat questionable, which I’d like to address here:

  • Ethically because there is no consent from the users to become part of my database or to share this information with me specifically. Yet, one might argue that they have agreed to the terms of use of Twitter which stipulates that this information is public. A counterargument could be that my database freezes in time user information that otherwise can change from being public to being private at any point in time. I could attempt to anonymize the data to the point where I create one map for the location of the tweeters, which is not interactive — that is, that does not show the location, username, and text of the tweet itself.
  • Methodologically, here’s a related problem as well: There’s not really any way to anonymize data that’s publicly available. You can easily search for the text quoted, for instance. (This becomes a problem in studies such as Kim Price-Glynn’s where she doesn’t want to write the real name of the strip bar where she does her studies; yet, in her last chapter she analyzes and quotes online conversations about the club, which makes it easy for someone to search the web, or archive.org, for the literal quotes, and find the name of the bar that way.)
  • Methodologically as well, it is problematic because it doesn’t indeed show the location of the tweet, per se, but rather the (self-professed) location of the user. That means that there will be many users layered on top of each other in a location such as New York, and few in New Orleans, despite the fact that many New Yorkers are indeed tweeting from New Orleans while traveling. (That is, the method doesn’t capture tweets from other locations than the user’s professed “home base.”) Moreover, some users have multiple locations on their accounts: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans, for example. The method has no way, currently, of mapping such accounts. On the prototype, I have used the first city mentioned, while acknowledging that this is a flaw.

6. Pull all unique locations from user information

From all of the users locations, I have written a PHP script to, once again, pull all the locations into a list of unique locations, mapped onto a location ID (which will prove necessary in the step creating relationships between the database tables).

6. Manual clean-up of the locations

In an attempt at creating a consolidated list of locations, I needed to manually clean up misspellings (since this is information a user types in, New York can be spelled in a number of ways) or abbreviations of city names (change NYC and at times NY to New York).

Note: I haven’t figured out a way to do this automatically yet. Theoretically, I could write a script that would pull from a list of the occurrences of corrections that I’d like to do and perform them automatically but the list would still have to be managed manually.

7. Geolocate each of the locations

Batch geocoding of all the locations is done through the free and open Batch Geocoding website.

Note: There should be other ways of performing this step but I haven’t figured that out yet. I might use Google’s geocoding API. The problem with their API (and many others) is that it’s limited to 2,500 requests per day. I may need to apply for research funds for this part of the project.

8. Assign weights to locations

The locations are not very precise, which means that lots of tweets will be layered on top of each other. One way to deal with this for now is to assign weights to each location, in order to create a heatmap for the respective tweets.

Problem here: that means that the interactive aspect of the map is lost. I don’t believe CartoDB has a way to solve this yet which means that to maintain the interactive aspect of the map, I might need to migrate from the CartoDB platform.

9. Create relationships between all the tables in the database

10. Export the data to CartoDB

11. Creating the maps in CartoDB

A note on collaboration

As a goal in the project, I want to offer my package back to the community of DH scholars, by making all of it available via GitHub. This would probably entail the need for more research funding, unfortunately, as I will need to make my scripts a little less specific to my own research. The Graduate Center, CUNY offers Digital Fellowships which may cover this part of the project in the near future.

Notes

1 Since July 17 — before then, the project was going to focus explicitly and only on boylesque as a genre.

Later This Month: Participation in Media Res #2

Later this month—on November 17th, to be precise—I’ve been asked to present a lightning talk on The Roots and Routes of Boylesque, likely very inspired by my presentation at ASTR later this week. I’m so excited!

The event Media Res #2 will be a follow-up on the inaugural Media Res event earlier this Spring. It takes place at NYU’s Bobst Library on Tuesday, November 17th at 5pm, and showcases a range of graduate student work in the Digital Humanities in an attempt at fostering community across NYC universities.

A Digital (N)Ethnographic Journey through the Roots and Routes of Boylesque

Note: This blog post is cross-posted with the ASTR Digital Methods Working Group. Feel free to provide comments here, however, as I will answer them here too!

Self-identified male bodies in burlesque has a history that goes further back than is normally considered in accounts of burlesque history and are an under-theorized absence in nearly all accounts of burlesque within Theatre and Performance Studies. More general studies of striptease, as well, do not normally focus on male bodies with a few notable exceptions.1 In my dissertation, I look to boylesque, a fairly new genre still growing out of, or intricately mixed with, the neo-burlesque movement, where male-identified bodies of different sexes perform in creatively constructed striptease routines. I address the history and political aspects of boylesque, both as genre and term in relation to the larger history and context of male striptease in New York, the US, and globally.

In an early part of the dissertation, “Heteroflexible Bodies,” I will look at norms around and conceptions of male striptease in mainstream culture, through both films representing male strippers and their adaptations. I focus on the establishment and perpetuation of such norms through marketing and performances, originally by Chippendales and, starting in the 1980s, their many competitors: American Storm, Australia’s Thunder from Down Under, Men of Sapphire, Men of X, La Bare, International Men of Steel, Olympic Gardens, and Hollywood Men. I argue that the establishment of these norms took place through the forced assumption of female audiences by a more or less explicit ban on male audiences, and that these performers are what I call “heteroflexible,”seemingly giving up power by objectifying the male body, but still assuming a position of power, in relation to their female audiences that maintains the male gaze as a governing structure.

The examples in the first part are contrasted by another part of the dissertation that traces a history of male striptease dancers, primarily in the Times Square area, gearing their acts to marginal audiences, performing different forms of objectification and more flexible ideals of masculinity. One historical example in this part concerns male strippers in the late 1920s and early 1930s burlesque theatres who performed in semi-drag in theatres along 42nd Street. Another example will come from interviews with dancers from gay striptease theatres of Times Square and their conception of the construction of masculinity. Should their performances be considered an extension of the norms established by Chippendales and their imitators.Were they perpetuating the same “heteroflexible” ideals—but in relation to the queer audiences in those theatres?2 Considering the Chippendales’ ban of potentially gay audiences, can we say that these theatres offered anything different in terms of their performances, solely based on the assumed audience?

A third part of the dissertation brings us to boylesque and the examples of contemporary boylesque performers who engage playfully with femininity and masculinity, rejecting the heteroflexible objectification of the male body, and challenges the norms elaborated in the previous two parts.The playfulness of their acts, and their awareness of the gender politics of their acts, becomes especially challenging to the normative ideals of male striptease, I argue, because the performers are tightly knit together in what I call the “boylesque circuit.” I am currently working with the thesis that boylesque is organized in a more transient movement pattern across the United States, and potentially beyond its borders,compared to male striptease culture generally.3 This might have to do with the fact that boylesque as a genre is a product of a new media culture, relying for marketing as well as organization, on online spaces and interactions through digital media, which makes it easy to organize performances in spaces and for audiences that might not have known about the performances otherwise.4

These three parts—the dissertation’s “chapters”—will come together in a born-digital, non-linear dissertation constructed through the open-source platform Scalar, which allows me to integrate video-recorded interviews, maps, timelines, and other media into the more traditional text of my study—but also for my informants themselves, to annotate and comment on the material itself. As hopefully becomes clear, I am interested in using technology to develop new methods to engage with the historical and contemporary subjects of my dissertation in ways that can involve them in the longer process of both participating in as well as creating a research project. The technology can also make the project accessible to audiences outside the traditional boundaries of academia. In all, the dissertation project is developed in and with the public, and thus situated in the intersection of Public and Digital Humanities.

In this way, I am interested in “challenging the traditional humanist ethos of solitary thought,” as our Working Group’s Call for Papers suggests that DH can do. But I am also interested in challenging some potentially prevailing normativity within the field of DH itself: the male gaze is often thwarted here, as we are looking at bodies that have been marginalized—as non-female or non-normative in terms of their genders and sexualities—through both the historiography of the genre itself (regardless if we discuss striptease or burlesque) as well as the manifold ethnographies written on striptease dancers.

The Map

The use of the term (n)ethnographic research in the title of my paper is meant to signal my first attempts at entering into this dissertation project outlined above.In order to begin my investigation of the employment of the term boylesque and its relation to other forms of male striptease, I have attempted to map the physical as well as the conceptual relation between the different terms and forms. For the past year, I have scraped Twitter for conversations around boylesque, and more recently male striptease generally.5

My goal is to create a topic model of the Twitter discussions over the past year, in order to figure out what is being spoken about and where in audience and performer groups respectively. This would ideally govern the formulation of my initial research questions for the dissertation project at large. The project is still a work in progress and I am currently working on a method to map the Twitter conversations into a MySQL database, by scraping the social network (using TAGS), geotagging the individual tweets (through a complex method which I will be happy to talk more about or write another blog post about), and mapping them in CartoDB. The next step will be to visualize not only the physical location of the tweets but also the relationship to certain topics.

The method I have developed poses a number of problems at almost every point of data collection, which I am happy to talk more about in the comments to this post or when we meet in Portland.

In a future version of the map, I hope to be able to create a separation between the different categories of tweets so that I will be able to select whether the CartoDB interface shows tweets mentioning boylesque or tweets mentioning the male striptease collection of search words. I am speculating that there might be a difference between the two in terms of location. With the help of software such as Gephi, I would be able to also visualize the user interactions within and between the two respective categories. Another hope for a future version of the map is to create a temporal dimension of the map, where I will be able to navigate, over the year, where tweets around these topics are happening over time.

In the remainder of this post, I hoped to describe in detail the process of bringing tweets from over the past year into a single heat map with interactive (clickable) tweets displaying more information. However, that description ended up 1,000 words long. I would still be happy to post it, should you be interested in reading a long description of the question that Miriam Posner asked best: “How did they make that?”

Notes

1. For men who dance for men, see Tewksbury 1993, 1994; DeMarco 2002, 2007; Boden 2007. For men who dance for women, see Petersen and Dressel 1982; Dressel and Petersen 1982; Margolis and Arnold 1993; Calhoun et al. 1998; and Bernard et al. 2003. For a full bibliography, see boylesque.info. Note that most of those are written not byscholars in the field of Theatre and Performance Studies, however, but mainly by sociologists and anthropologists.

2. I believe we can safely assume that audiences in gay striptease theatres are not always gay but will certainly queer heteronormative assumptions about rigid separations between heterosexual and homosexual desires, which is why I have chosen to call them queer audiences here.

3. Compare to other studies of striptease culture, which seem to show that dancers are fairly static in one physical location, town, city, or even one specific bar, over extended periods of time

4. This part will also discuss the susceptibility of such media interactions to a capitalist circulation of bodies, notably in pornography, where the term boylesque has recently circulated as part of the marketing strategy of gay pornography producing company CockyBoys.

5. The search term “boylesque” has been active since Oct 15, 2014, and the search terms “male strip,”“male erotic dancing,” “male revue,” and “#malestriptease” have been active since July 17, 2015. Before then, the project was going to focus explicitly and only on boylesque as a genre.

Bibliography

Bernard, Constance, Christen DeGabrielle, Lynette Cartier, Elizabeth Monk-Turner, Celestine Phill, Jennifer Sherwood, and Thomasena Tyree. “Exotic Dancers: Gender Differences in Societal Reaction, Subcultural Ties and Conventional Support.” Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 10, no. 1 (2003): 1–11.

Boden, David M. “Alienation of Sexuality in Male Erotic Dancing.”Journal of Homosexuality 53, no. 1–2 (2007): 129–152.

Calhoun, Thomas C., Julie Ann Harms Cannon, and Rhonda Fisher. “Explorations in Youth Culture. Amateur Stripping: What we Know and What we Don’t.” In Youth Culture: Identity in a Postmodern World, edited by Jonathon S. Epstein, 302–326. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

DeMarco, Joseph R. G. “The World of Gay Strippers.” Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide 9, no. 2 (2002): 12–15.

DeMarco, Joseph R. G. “Power and Control in Gay Strip Clubs.” Journal of Homosexuality 53, no. 1–2 (2007): 111–127.

Dressel, Paula L., and David Peterson. “Gender Roles, Sexuality and the Male Strip Show: The Structuring of Sexual Opportunity.” Sociological Focus 15, no. 2 (April 1982): 151–62.

Dressel, Paula L., and David Peterson. “Becoming a Male Stripper: Recruitment, Socialisation and Ideological Development.” Work and Occupations 9, no. 3 (August 1982): 387–406.

Dressel, Paula L., and David Peterson. “Equal Time for Women: Social Notes on the Male Strip Show.” Urban Life 11, no. 2 (1982): 185–208.

Margolis, Maxine and Arnold, Marigene. “Turning the Table? Male Strippers and the Gender Hierarchy.” In Sex and Gender Hierarchies, edited by Barbara Diane Miller, 334–50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Tewksbury, Richard. “Male Strippers: Men Objectifying Men.” In Doing Women’s Work: Men in Nontraditional Occupations, edited by Christine L. Williams, 168–181. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1993

Tewksbury, Richard. “A Dramaturgical Analysis of Male Strippers.” Journal of Men’s Studies 2, no. 4 (1994): 325–335.

Updates

I am flying out to ASTR next week and am still wrapping up my blog entry for the working group. Some changes in my life have made it hard for me at times to focus on work matters after finishing and passing my comprehensive exams. But the paper is coming along — it will be cross-posted here on the blog as well and will focus on the methodology I’ve developed, so far, to construct the Twitter map of tweets on male striptease and boylesque over the past year. And most importantly, the paper will focus on the flaws and problems of that methodology, which I want to address at an early stage, and see if other scholars and/or artists might have some input on how to change the methodology around to make my project more feasible.

I have also been accepted to talk at the event “CUNY DHI: Building a Digital Humanities Community at the City University of New York,” organized by the Digital Fellows at The Graduate Center, CUNY. I will do a shortened version of what I am planning on doing at ASTR, and illustrate with the help of an updated version of the map that is currently available on this website.

In terms of my dissertation, I’m still reading towards my dissertation proposal (which includes reading up on male striptease as well as a lot of methodological books and articles on social media research). I am also putting together a dissertation committee. My chair, who has accepted the job already, is Professor James Wilson. I have one more dissertation committee member who has agreed to be part of the project, Professor Elizabeth Wollman. I am very excited to get to work with Liz again!

The Roots and Routes of Burlesque (Visualization)

This is a first draft of my visualization of the roots and routes of burlesque for my comprehensive exams. I will post a more fleshed out description of the visualization as soon as I have time (after I go in and write the exam on Wednesday this upcoming week). But I wanted to share with you this preliminary progress—if nothing else to motivate myself these last couple of hours before the exam.

If you want to look at it more closely, you can see it as an image here.

Frustration

Please note that this is a post that I have cross-posted from my personal blog at westerling.nu

I am making huge strides right now in relation to my second exam readings (I am almost entirely finished with my reading for two of the fields). Yet, I am also increasingly frustrated by something, which I assume is part of the idea of having a comprehensive exam in the first place: I am getting so many ideas for my dissertation. I am currently writing a huge amount of notes on ideas that I’m having in relation to the dissertation plan that I am going to write as soon as I possible can, once I pass this exam. But the note taking on dissertation ideas is taking so much time from my reading that I’m getting nervous about finishing reading for that third field.

Anyway. I think my dissertation will take a little broader approach to ideas that I have had before, and be directed towards male striptease more generally. Currently, I am thinking about including:

  1. • A history of male striptease in vaudeville and burlesque: from strongmen to female impersonators and sissy comics;
  2. • Recentering the “gentrification”/”Disneyfication” of Times Square on the stories of male striptease dancers;
  3. • Trading on class status outside of money capital v. increasing surveillance in cities with declining/destroyed economies and politics;
  4. • The Rise and Fall of the Chippendales;
  5. • Boylesque as the glamorous “other”—as part of new burlesque, a global movement, and tourist industry.

I am so excited. And I don’t want to read another word right now. But that’s exactly what I am going to do.

Friday Update: June 26

This has been an exciting week on many levels.

Personally, despite not being a huge fanatic when it comes to marriage and all of that, Friday’s victory is a landmark victory for those who want to get married. And maybe now, finally, the LGBTQ movement can get on to bigger questions such as the awful racism in this country, the transphobia that still lives within our own alleged “communities,” voting rights, terrible wage inequalities, and many many more issues. “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion. “The Constitution grants them that right.” Good for them/us.

Professionally, there have been some updates as well.

On Wednesday, I received an acceptance to present at ASTR in November, which was very exciting. (You may remember that I posted my proposal here on the blog.) I have never been to ASTR before, and not only am I excited to present on my work (which is also very much in its beginning phases) but also to do it in a form different from any other academic presentation I have done before: I am going to put together a poster!

Then something else happened. On Friday, I was offered and accepted a teaching position with the Department of Communications Studies at Baruch College. I will teach their Speech Communications class starting at the end of August. I’m quite excited as I’ll be working in an environment in which VOCAT (also reported on in The Chronicle of Higher Education) has been developed, and I can’t wait to put all the conversations we’ve had with The Futures Initiative over the past year into practice!

My main focus over the past week, just like last week, was to start focus fully on my reading. I realized that I need to keep myself in control somehow, and I have previously found the Pomodoro technique useful for writing. So I thought I should try it with reading as well. I realized how much time it takes to read all those pages, so now I’m getting nervous and a little stressed out. I’ll report back in a week to see how I’m doing. (For those of you who want to try it, I’d recommend this app for Macs/also on the web; and a group on Facebook that can help you get started/motivated.)

I am also falling behind in my working out, which makes me a little disappointed as well. Perhaps tomorrow, I’ll start off the day with a little run and, at the very least, a couple of exercises. I did so well in the past two weeks! I will try to work a little on that as well.