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.

Friday Update: June 19

I haven’t done a Friday update in the past two weeks as I have been working hard (for the past three weeks) on my summer fellowship with The Futures Initiative. I have been creating a draft of an annual report, working on website and print graphics, and made big strides in establishing a visual identity for the organization. It has been an intense three weeks of working but for the two months, more or less, I am wholly focused on my second comprehensive exams. The Friday updates for the next two months or so, thus, will most likely focus on my reading strides, reflections on what that process is like for me, and potentially even some attempts by me to synthesize the material I am covering.

Friday Update

First, a note on the format of these updates: This project may be in its beginning phases but I am intent on following up weekly on here. I am inspired by Amanda Visconti’s (Literature_Geek) suggestion after having finished a digitally-born dissertation to have weekly updates sent to your advisers. She talked about it during the event “Evaluating, Valuing, and Promoting Digital Scholarship” at The Graduate Center on April 21, 2015 (see livestream from it here). Visconti not only sent her advisers updates every week but also tracked all her writing on GitHub to convey the time she spent on her dissertation.

If you’re interested in reading the tweets from the event, the wonderful Ben Miller (benmiller314) put together a Storify afterwards.


This week has been hard to get on top of my work because I just came back from a full week in Lansing, MI for the 2015 HASTAC conference, had Monday and Tuesday off with flu-like symptoms, and then attended a Strategy Retreat with HASTAC and The Futures Initiative for the past two days. Yet:

This was also the two weeks when the real planning and implementation of this site came about. While I had registered the domain names boylesque.info and boylesque.nyc a while back in the Spring, I hadn’t really gotten anything up and running yet. My goal had been to get the website running before the HASTAC conference, as I presented on digital scholarship (follow #remixthediss on twitter for the long conversation that started in September 2014!) at the conference but wasn’t ready to launch until after the conference. Darn — because of course at least one tweeter during the conference wanted to link out to my work and was only able to find a very early work-in-progress-ey site that I had created on the CUNY Academic Commons. Oh, well! Now there’s at least one place in the cyberverse where the project can be found.

Though technically it was last week (depending on what weekday you use to start counting), on Sunday I submitted a proposal to the American Society for Theatre Researchers, and their working group on Collaboration, Evaluation, and Access in Digital Theatre Scholarship. Clearly (considering my presentation on digital scholarship at the HASTAC 2015 Conference), this working group is just right for me at this time, and I really hope my proposal is accepted.

This week, I have also set up a separate MySQL database where I am trying to keep track of boylesque artists who have participated in shows over the past couple of years. The about page on this website is pulling information from this database and creating a neat looking list of boylesque artists. I wanted to create a page like this to be able to direct folks interested in knowing more about the people in the field of boylesque, and see what they are doing. The list also links out to the artists’ websites, and in the case I haven’t been able to find their websites, to their Twitter, Facebook, and lastly Instagram profiles. Hopefully, all of them have a social media presence in any of those forums. The list is by no means an exhaustive list of the artists active in boylesque shows all over the world. If you’re interested in attending boylesque shows, the easiest way is, of course, to keep an eye on social media such as Facebook and Twitter for the keyword but also to remember to get tickets for one of the annual boylesque festivals (now in New York, Seattle, New Orleans, Vienna, and soon London!).