My Garden of Forking Paths.

Yesterday I had my first seminar presentation as a PhD student working
between the Department of Modern Languages and HUMlab. It went well and I
enjoyed the discussion and tips from my supervisor and colleagues. Having
done little but read course texts for the last 12 months (mostly literature
from Thomas More to J. M Coetzee, but also substantial theory) and struggle
with my writing style, it feels good to have made my first moves into the
research part of my project.

Moving from undergraduate to graduate education is a tremendous change. To
go from consuming and processing information to having a critical eye and an
opinion has been a difficult but exciting journey. I am still on my way
(maybe always will be) but gradually I believe I am navigating towards a
more self-determined academic voice in my writing. I am beginning to see
similarities and continuities in what once seemed like random patterns with
language or cultural artefacts. Reading everything in a text and copying
long sections slavishly is now becoming reading once quickly and then
re-reading a second or third time if the text is of value and notes are
becoming my own strange system of calligraphy. Unlike undergraduate work
were projects are undertaken following or preceding teaching or group work,
graduate work is a long series of discussions, arguments and seminars while
what could be called ‘individual work’ is going on (if there is such a
thing). I have never felt alone as a PhD student, at times far from it, with
an accessible community existing around me locally and even internationally.

My seminar yesterday was the latest event in this process. A two hour
discussion around things I am very interested in with helpful suggestions
and critical observations. I have formulated a corpus of digital texts that
could be described as hypertexts or cybertexts and collected a
representative sample of quotes from digital theorists and practitioners I
admire or subscribe to. Following this were about 25 questions I had hit
upon as I have read about and played with the digital artefacts from the
corpus. Of course this is all way too broad and I am in need of focus in
just about every area of the project BUT the focus is coming. For three days
after I met Katherine Hayles in HUMlab (21-22 September 2005) I was thinking
about how I really had no idea what my goal was in this “narrative and
reader in digital texts” thing I had managed to get a Wallenberg scholarship
for. What the hell was I going to do? Between Hayles in HUMlab and my
seminar yesterday (apart from time spent with newborn son…well even a little
bit then was I thinking about digital textuality…mainly during diaper
changes) I tried to ‘clean up’ my mind in regards to intentions and aims
with my PhD. The seminar yesterday seems to have established my tangent for
the next few months and it seems like I have a goal in (just slightly out of
focus) sight.