I am finding increasingly that the categories I have outlined at the inception of this blog (see right-hand side) no longer really match the kinds of posts I write. This is a natural development, but is also due to some extent to the special circumstances we are in now. Because we are in New Haven this blog is also partly a way of relating our experiences here, also as a family, to our families and friends in the Netherlands. I find it important that there is space for those kinds of posts as well, but the first aim of this blog for me remains to report about the process and results of my PhD research. So in the next few months I am hoping to write three kinds of blogposts here:
- A weekly update of family news from New Haven
- Discussions of Yale events and how they relate to and inform my own research
- A series about an issue that keeps puzzling me: what is my field?
The last perhaps needs some clarification. Especially in a new environment I am often asked “What is your field?”. And when people do not ask it, but make an assumption, they usually get it wrong. That is not their fault, it is a difficult question. I know more or less where I am between the various disciplines and fields of academic study, but I need suspiciously many words to explain. So why not set up a special category of blogposts to do so at some length. Hopefully it (you?) will help me to become more concise on the point. A few possibilities which will probably occur: if you want to think about it in terms of traditional disciplines there are three logical candidates, English, history and psychology. They are relevant, especially because they are departments and degrees at most universities, all three of which I have studied and/or taught (and maths, but that really is another matter). If you organize fields by form or medium possible labels for parts of my research would be literary studies, film studies, museum studies, radio studies, or perhaps more collectively: media studies. If you organize fields according to approach or content you might settle on cultural history, cultural analysis, public history, celebrity studies, disability studies etc. In between all these, are the two denominators I use most regularly: American studies and memory studies. Each of these labels is appropriate, some more so than others, and I’m probably forgetting a few crucial ones.
But this is the plan. Fingers crossed that I manage to carry it out more or less as projected.