A few of my friends have asked me what I’m studying this semester at The Graduate Center in NYC. Honestly, I’d never heard of The Graduate Center before 2013. Laura Tropp, author, M.O.M. Advisory Board member, and Marymount Manhattan College Professor told me I should check it out after I expressed an interest in going back to school.
I applied for spring admission in 2014, was accepted, and am now slamming through coursework, on schedule to complete a Master’s dissertation by the end of the summer in 2015. Originally I thought I’d focus on coursework for a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality major. Now I’m headed down a more “independent” track, incorporating Digital Humanities into a combined major that focuses on something I’m loosely calling the Mother Studies agenda. Frankly, I’m still looking for my “spot.”
We all have a few “spots” that work well for us. Sometimes they’re geographic, sometimes they’re political, and sometimes they’re social. I’ve found mine in multiple places but the most professionally consistent has been in the area of gender, creativity, and motherhood. Reading from the Digital Humanities coursework (Link: http://cunydhi.commons.gc.cuny.edu) gives me hope that new and emerging fields do indeed have a place in the academy – even though I haven’t finished articulating exactly what this new theory and practice would look like.
Here’s what I know:
Education is supposed to make us more informed. Theoretically, it could be argued, this makes us better people, who are able to live better, richer, more enlightened lives.
If we agree important human values are assignable to human beings, then it follows that education could help achieve these things. Why then couldn’t consenting adults, prior to practicing procreation, be encouraged to theorize parenthood from a broad interdisciplinary palate. For example, academic courses in the following areas, focusing on specific subjects under the “tent” of any number of humanities and sciences, including but not limited to Women’s and Gender Studies accompanying a general discourse around biology, psychology, sociology, economics, history, gender studies, global perspectives, and cultural studies. I have taught exactly these subjects to undergrads, high school students, and graduate students with affirming results.
In his book, “The Emergence of the Digital Humanities” Steven E. Jones acknowledges that “every academic field and intellectual movement” is a socially constructed phenomenon. Taking human-making out from the physical realm and into the cerebellum might actually have heart-warming, and intellectually inspiring results. Potentially we could improve our lot, collectively.
Here are my courses this semester:
Feminist Texts and Theories with Linda M. Alcofff
Sociology and Gender with Hester Eisenstein
Introduction to the Digital Humanities with Stephen Brier and Matthew Gold
American Culture and Values with Martin J. Burke
Introduction to Sociology with Marisa Tramontano
 If we also believe humans have value and that [some] procreation of the next generation of humans is important. Does education = better? What is better? What are our values collectively?
I’ve been meditating on mine. Here’s a list of values I came up with today:
Healthy (mindful of exercise and food)
Sociologically sympathetic (no hate-mongering)
Contributing citizens (demonstrate a willingness to contribute to society by way of work, childrearing, or volunteerism).
Creative (this value can be applied to all things including problem solving)