One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Writing Schedule & Organization

Since January 1st, I have been writing and reading for my thesis. At the end of January, I had the first three chapter drafts done Photo Feb 06, 10 09 04 PMand I am currently working on the fourth chapter. Living back at home, getting ready to move in a few weeks, taking care of my father, working on an ethnography project, and working/teaching – all of these have been great distractions and have often interrupted my work. The most effective method to keep me motivated and on task has been to treat writing as a job. I have set a block of time aside each day to completely dedicate my time to just writing and reading. I am a morning person so the time I have set aside is 5 am to 1 or 2pm. Usually 6-7 hours just purely dedicated to that time to work. However, I do spend my ‘downtime’ (the time when I am not teaching or any of the above activities) to read articles, free hand notes, or type up notes. I try dedicate as much time as I can without getting to overwhelmed.

So about 6 hours a day for 7 days, is the minimum time I dedicate towards writing. Life happens and things come up, so if I have a set time when I am just working on thesis writing I have at least accomplished the minimum for the day. If I was getting paid to do this at minimum $10 an hour…I would be working roughly 42 hours and making about $420 a week (if only). Realistically I spend anywhere from 6-10 hours a day writing or reading.

Photo Feb 06, 10 09 17 PMIn addition to treating this as a job, I have been recording the time I spend each day and the accomplishments I do. Such as – when I finish a draft. I set weekly goals of what I would like to accomplished and have done. And then I set a monthly goal. I am a goal and deadline oriented individual. (I tend to obsess over it a little). I record them in three locations (I am a lil OCD about scheduling and calenders) I have a small notebook that I keep with me at all times in either my purse, gym bad, computer case, etc. In this I drew a monthly calender with the goals on one side and then each day I record the time that have spent (usually 6am-1 or 5am-1p) fully dedicating my writing, what I was able to accomplish that day (if anything), and what my goals are for that week. I take the notebook with me all the time because there is nothing worse than having a random thought or an idea and no where to write it. So this way if I am working out, at a store, waiting for my father at an appointment, or where ever; I have somewhere to record my thoughts. The second, is a monthly and daily planner that I use for everything from teaching/work schedule, appointments, etc. I record the time that I spend on writing and schedule everything else in life around that block of time I have dedicated on the thesis. The third, is the Google calender that is synced with my email and my phone. Same use as the daily planner.

You don’t have to be completely oppressive as I am. This is how I operate and it works for me. I am extremely OCD about planning, scheduling, and recording everything.

I feel accomplished when I work hard to and I am able to achieve the goal I have set for myself. I try to set the goals to be easily achievable a week and reasonable. I know what I am capable of so I stay within the boundaries of what I know I can do. Last thing I want is to be burnt out and slacking on the work.

There are days when I have writers block or do not know what the next step should be. Those are the days when I reread sources, reread notes, try to think of new ways to approach my research with the theory I am using. I find ways to motivate myself. Even if I only write maybe a sentence or two one day, I read and I know that I have at least dedicated some time to writing.

The goals for the month of February are focused on trying to complete a full first draft of my thesis. I have moved some of my chapters around and I have combined a couple of them. I plan to have an appendix of a timeline, census, and background histories of the cultural groups. But those can wait. But for not if I can achieve finishing a complete draft by the end of the month. I have March and April to do revisions and work towards a final draft, and eventually present and defend my thesis by the beginning of the summer. Some of this is motivated by my husband coming home from deployment in March. I would like to get a majority of the writing out of the way, so that I can dedicate time to him when he comes home. 

Photo Feb 07, 10 50 34 AMTo keep everything organized, I have a Thesis Binder that contains checklists of what I need for my thesis and prospectus, book notes, articles and notes, projects that will be included in the Appendix. I have big tabs and little tabs (if you haven’t picked it up, I am a little OCD about organization). My tabs are as follows: Thesis Process Information (with small tabs: Thesis information and AAA style guide); Approved Documents (my prospectus is currently in there, and my thesis committee signatures); Notes (with small tabs: LOTR book notes, book/scholar book notes, and article notes); Projects or Appendix Additions; and finally Articles.

This helps me stay organized and I have everything typed up and in one place. I am sure that it will expand and more tabs will be added.

So far, this has all worked out well for me. I am on schedule with my goals and I am still able to work on other things than just my thesis (such as an ethnography). I don’t want my thesis to be overwhelming or be something that I dread doing. I want to have fun and keep it interesting while staying motivated and on task.

I am this organized and goal oriented with everything that that I do from graduate course, working/teaching, home management, etc. So this isn’t something I had to teach myself. I have heard others who have a rough time getting through and staying motivated. I am always here to give advise when someone needs tips on staying motivated and being organized.


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Wordless Wednesday – Bilbo and Gandalf enjoy the snow!

Once again Virginia got some snow and my trip to Florida got cancelled. So today, Bilbo and Gandalf enjoyed the snow.  A good break from thesis writing and reading, but still a very relevant activity.


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Writing my Chapters

Alrighty, recovery from getting my wisdom teeth pulled lasted longer than I had anticipated. During that time, I was able to type up all my book notes, notes on theory, organize my thesis binder, and began writing the theory portion of my thesis.

I began writing my theory chapter first because (I think) that the theory portion is the most difficult and most involved than the other chapters. I also chose a structuralist perspective, heavy on the Claude Levi-Strauss (there wouldn’t be any other way). When choosing a theory, it is important to keep in mind that theory reflects the individual. I say this because I relate to the structuralist perspective, it makes sense to me. As an undergrad, I was highly influenced by my mentor, adviser, and now friend, in structuralist thinking.  So it would only be natural to me to use this theory in my analytically thinking on LOTR. I am sure that the other theories can be worked into this topic as well.

My goal is to write a chapter a month, maybe more depending on the topic of the chapter.Being organized and dedicated makes the difference between reaching a goal in a specific time frame and letting that goal linger and drift further away, never being reached. My graduation is official for the summer, I am responsible to get myself there.

Also it is Wordless Wednesday, so I leave you with this.



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Getting back into the Swing of Things

Last semester was the most stressful semester of my graduate career. One class took most of my time and I was not able to keep up with my blog as much as I would have liked. Now with the New Year I am dedicated to working on my blog more and keeping up with it. This semester I am working on two projects: my thesis and an ethnography. I decided to move back home to Virginia for the semester due to financially not being able to afford living in Florida and I have some opportunities in Virginia towards a career in teaching. I also decided it would be best to spend my time being with my family while my husband was still deployed. With that being said, I have started working on my thesis starting this week. I have planned out my thesis writing schedule. My plan is to spend 6 hours a day working on my thesis: 3 hours reading, 3 hours writing.  My goal is to have at least one chapter written and approve by the end of the month. Some chapters will be easier than others, but as long as I stay motivated I will accomplish my goals. The ultimate goal is to be completely done writing my thesis by the end of this semester.

As far as the ethnography that I am working on this semester, I will be looking at gender equality and culture within the military. I will be looking at the policies and procedures that have been put into place to make the military more equal for women, men, gays, and lesbians. I am still waiting on the the approval from the IRB, but once it gets approved I will be able to start work on that project.

The goal for this blog this semester is to share my process and work of my thesis and various other projects I will be working on, as well as sharing more news about the anthropology world.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday – Video games and Agency

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Historical Documents – Maps & Census

Historical Documents has been a great class this semester because I can use the methods that we are getting from the class and applying it. I posted earlier the transcribing exercise that I applied to the original handwritten manuscripts of Tolkien. This inspired me to use these skills of transcribing, census recording, and building a timeline of events to LOTR once again as a final paper/project. I am really excited to be doing this.

The two projects that I am posting today are the working with maps and census/working with numeral data exercises.

For the maps:

Item17I used four maps of Virginia, specifically around the Chesapeake Bay area and Jamestowne settlement from the years 1612 to 1755 and they are all printed maps. The first map is John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia from his expedition in 1606-1607; second is John Farrer’s map of 1677 of the coast of 1650farrerVirginia for both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; third is a 1640 nautical map of parts of Virginia and parts of Florida written in Latin; and fourth is 1755 map of Virginia that includes North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland with boundaries and properties marked to indicate territory possession.

The artwork is what interested me the most between these four maps. In John Smith’s map he has his artwork on the Natives, one a single Susquehannock man and a scene with Powhatan and other 1640b55individuals which are original drawings and contrasts from what it seems to be illustrations of Native from the 1640 map. Smith’s map is also has elaborate drawings of the plant life, building structures, and sea creatures in the Virginia Sea and the Chesapeake Bay. Farrer’s map follow suit with the drawings of fantasy sea creatures, as wells ships, plant and animal life, and there is also a picture and biography of Sir Francis Drake at the top. In contrast to the English maps, the 1640 map has differing images of angel babies, images of what is believed to be Natives, and ships. 1755virginiaThese three maps are thus contrasted to the 1755 map that does not have any expressive images, just terrain images and names of rivers and mountain ranges. It can be concluded that the early colonial maps were not just to map out the landscape, they were also works of art that was used as a way of storytelling to describe the fantasy aspect of the New World, almost to draw interest to come to the New World. As time progressed and the New World was being established, there wasn’t any need to draw interest to populate the area. The New World itself was not some idea and fantasy, it was an established land and very much real. Maps, in turn, were used more for political reasons to mark boundaries between the colonies, mark property of England, show the locations of Native tribes, and show the terrain of the landscape.


For Census

1910UnitedStatesFederalCensusForRobertLClareI used two censuses, the 1910 and the 1930, from King George County, the Potomac District in Virginia. I specifically chose these two censuses because my family on my father’s side, the Clare’s, have been living in this area of Virginia since the late 1880s and continue to live in the same area generations later. I am also currently working on my family’s genealogy on both my parent’s sides of the family and my husband’s. Choosing these two censuses, I was able to compare and contrast various variables over a twenty year timeframe of the same area.

Comparing these two censuses, one can see that the 1930’s census has more detail than the 1910 but they both have very much the same categories. 1910 censuses have nine family households while the 1930 census has seven family households. One of the key differences that I saw between these two was in the ‘place of birth’ sections where in the 1910, almost half of the section is handwritten and the other half is stamped. In contrast, the 1930’s census, this section was all 1930UnitedStatesFederalCensusForMaryLClarehandwritten. There is also a difference in the record of where Robert L Clare was born. In the 1910 census, he is recorded incorrectly to have born in Virginia and in the 1930 census he is correctly recorded to be born in Maryland. Another change that is evident is the growth of the family size that is seen in both censuses from 1910 to 1930 with the birth of children during the twenty year difference. For example, the Clare family in 1910 had four individuals and in 1930 there are ten individuals. In the 1930 census, the Clare family does have a black man that is described as family servant at the age 85. I did not see any other families with a servant in either census. The last major difference was the occupation changes with specifically Robert Clare from blacksmithing working at an auto shop to farming. Both of these occupations were true and the family still owns the auto shop and farm that are recorded. The 1910 had more detailed specialties of occupations than the 1930 and there is a lot more farming occupations in 1930 than in 1910. There are a couple of families that also on both of the census besides the Clare’s, these families include the Fines and the Washington’s.


I really enjoyed doing these projects. As I stated before, my plan is to take these methods and apply them to LOTR to reconstruct culture histories of the various races.

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Wordless Wednesday – Culture and Body Language

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Grad student living in FL

This semester, time has really gotten away from me. I know I keep saying I am going to be better about my blog, and then BAM! I have a ton of reading and writes up….and a mid-term (for some awful reason). This past week and weekend, I have been working on the Evolutionary Theory mid-term and my time and life has been sucked into doing just that, while my other work had to be put off. My time management skills have really been put to the test and that is one of my traits I take pride in. I often feel like I am not able to accomplish all I want

AnthropologyI created this yesterday in the angst I was having trying to catch up my work that I had put off due to the  mid-term. Living in Florida and only living 30 minutes away from the beach, it would be great to go, read, and do homework. Reality doesn’t allow me to do that.

My day starts at 5:30am and ends around 11:30-midnight (usually). I either have classes during the day or I am up working on homework.

I figured this reflected the past year being an anthropology grad student living in Florida.

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