Letter from the Editresses by Beverly Pratt & Meg Austin Smith

Letter From the Editresses

Welcome to Volume 5, Issues 1 & 2!

This newsletter edition begins with greetings from our new Graduate Director – Dr. Bill Falk.  But we’ve also got loads of updates including:  new GSF election procedures, information on working groups, an announcement for a teaching support group, a list of journal rankings, and a few introductions to some new(-ish) faces around the department.

Graduate student contributions include sociological reflections on the Rally to Restore Sanity and an article regarding a growing graduate-student run teaching tool called The Sociological Cinema.

Finally, five individuals are spotlighted, including:  IT graduate assistant Nakul Sharma, undergraduate student Sean Gray, graduate students Joanna Kling and Lori Reeder, and faculty Dr. Meredith Kleykamp.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this edition.  Please enjoy the contributions of our colleagues and feel free to contact us with any comments and/or suggestions that you may have for future publications.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beverly Pratt and Meg Austin Smith

Editresses

bpratt@socy.umd.edu & maustin@socy.umd.edu

We dare you to call this a McDonaldized image.

Letter from the Graduate Director by Bill Falk, PhD

“Time Waits or is it Weights?”

Although I chaired the department for nearly 17 years, I had never before served as graduate director.  Now that I’ve been in the role for a few months, I know why!  At times it has seemed like a full-time job.  Of course my sense of this has been abetted by Katrina’s departure.  Alas, we will all survive.  In fact, academic survival is what I am touting as my major emphasis this year.

I believe strongly that you survive most easily and successfully when you have a sense of accomplishment.  For graduate students – and to some degree, this doesn’t change as much as you think when you are a faculty member or working in a more applied or policy setting – one of the most difficult things to learn is how to effectively manage your time.  This leads to a kind of hypothesis:  The better you are at managing your time, the greater the probability of satisfaction in your life.  I think this is a partial explanation for why people sometimes talk about being “wise” with your time.  Time is “fleeting” (tempus fugit).  In a finite way, you only have so much of it so you are constantly making decisions about how to use it.  And important things compete for your time – you know as you weigh up their comparative importance, time spent on one thing will, to some degree, be at the expense of the others.  Ergo, people talk about “losing” or “wasting” time versus “time well spent” or a “good time.”   I hope you all do spend your time well and have some enjoyment in the process.

Being in graduate school is not exactly like the show “Survivor” but it’s similar!  We want you on the team and to be a contributing member.  The occasional brown bags we are having are meant to help you think about how to successfully play the academic ‘Survivor’ game, how to use your time.  As with all games, the more you know about it, the better you are likely to be as a player.  You invest your time and, hopefully, the yield will be worth it.   To that end, I look forward to seeing you on the playing field.

Introducing the 2010-2011 Cohort

You’ve seen them around.  You’ve met them.  You’ve probably even become their friends and colleagues.  But here are some factoids about the first-years that you may not already know … Enjoy!  (photos by Nihal Celik)

TYLER CRABB


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) Sociology is the most intellectually legitimate approach to address the most pressing issues of our day – not to mention the past and future.

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? The University of Maryland, College Park, is my favorite thing about living in the DC area.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). G.K. Chesterton wrote philosophy, Christian apologetics, and my personal favorite – politically/theologically motivated detective fiction. The Man Who Knew Too Much is a collection of fun detective stories, and anything with Father Brown is immensely entertaining. All his stuff is public domain so go to Gutenberg.org and go crazy.

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? “Dichterliebe.”

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? Museums

Free for all! Insert and answer your own question here. I can’t deal with such freedom. Like Sarte said, it’s crushing to be condemned to such freedom. It’s an unanswerable question.

SHARON EDENS


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) Why are military personnel different?  What makes the military “tick”?

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? I don’t have to drive 3 hours just to get somewhere to do something, like in Missouri.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). Platoon Leader by James R. McDonough, About Face by David Hackworth and Julie Sherman, We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? Versions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? Spend time with my family

Free for all! Insert and answer your own question here! What is one of your skills, other than something to do with sociology?  Playing the piano.

ANYA GALLI

What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) Sociology is good for understanding diversity, inequality, and community through empiricism and theory. It’s also good for doing research that has the potential to create social change.

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? Walking everywhere, the Latin American food on 18th street in DC, Malcolm X Park, having a fantastic roommate, and living somewhere with actual seasons again.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). This Bridge Called My Back; Sister Outsider; History of Sexuality; Sexism and God Talk; Unbearable Weight; Gender Trouble; Epistemology of the Closet; Empire; Calvin and Hobbes; Peace is Every Step.

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? Janelle Monae, “Tightrope”

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? Learn to do a handstand.

RACHEL GUO


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) It helps us look at both personal life and society in a new way, gets us to reflex upon things that we used to take for granted.  I’m interested in Gender.

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? Haven’t got time to explore and enjoy the area yet…

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). Can’t recall any at this moment….

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? I probably will just shuffle my iPod.

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? Making progress on my French, reading more. Writing something, becoming a better person.

Free for all! Insert and answer your own question here. None at the moment…

JONATHAN JACKSON


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) Studying everything.  I love that sociology is so broad and interdisciplinary.  I guess I particularly use sociology to help answer questions about urban landscapes.  Why does poverty exist in certain pockets of cities and not in others?  Why do people build structures to segregate themselves?

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? I love that it is a city largely built on human-scale.  I’ve mainly lived in cities that have a heavy car culture and its so nice that I’m in a city with row homes and a great metro.  Also, I live being at the center of the political world.  It’s so much fun going to rallies and other events.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). 1. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn; 2. People’s History of the United States; 3. The Communist Manifesto; 4. Anything by Christopher Buckley; 5. Robert Bellah’s Beyond Belief; 6. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser; 7. Watchmen by Alan Moore; 8. 1984 by George Orwell

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? I hope to go hiking in the Appalachians.  I would like to visit some old civil war sites like Antietam.  I also hope to pay a visit to Annapolis.  Since I’m so close to several cities I hope to travel to Philadelphia, Wilmington and Pittsburgh.

DENAE JOHNSON


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) I think the best questions are those of group formation, group identification and how people interact with one another over time and why. A burning question that I have is of emergence of the so-called phenomenon of the mixing of cultures and ethnicities.  I am also interested in hate group formation and hate crimes.  I think all of these questions are answered best within stratification!

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? I have loved Washington, D.C. since I was a child! I believe I could be very happy living in or very near ANY major city, but I am already familiar with the area, and living less than three hours from home allows me to be (somewhat!) available to my loved ones.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). From the top of my head:  Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, ANYTHING written by bell hooks, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings of Radical Women of Color (which is a new favorite), and Weinbach and Grinnel’s Statistics for Social Workers (which has surprising been my statistical lifesaver on several occasions!)

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? Without a doubt, it would be Floetry’s “Sunshine,” which can put me in tears on the right day!

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? Besides getting a Ph.D, I would like to become a stronger and wiser woman, and a better daughter.  Also, I am looking forward to meeting many amazing people over the next few years!

Free for all! Insert and answer your own question here. Pet Peeve?  I cringe when people butcher the spelling/pronunciation of my name. 

JEEHYE KANG


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) What local people would face with in the globalizing world and how they respond to it, are burning questions that I have pursued. My intuition whispered me that sociology will help me out answer them, and I listened to it. Demography plus some other areas are likely to be my specialty areas!

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? I am happy with being in Maryland–College Park, which is in the D.C. metro area. Coexisting cultures from all around the world fascinate me! You are welcomed to join a culinary adventure with me.

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? Let me make my everyday in Maryland the best, and see how it goes. Then I will answer that question in five years–hopefully. Getting into Maryland was one of the best opportunities given in my life! I won’t waste it! 

Free for all! Insert and answer your own question here. Closing introducing myself, I recommend you a book: Hope for the Flowers. This children novel is my life-inspirer. I wish it gives you courage and hope, too!!! Thanks!!!

MANDI MARTINEZ


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) I like that sociology is useful to address problems that exist in society.  It can be used to teach others about those problems and somewhere along the line instill a desire in individuals to work towards changing them (in theory).

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? I’m definitely a city person.  I love being close enough to D.C. to go whenever I want, yet far enough to avoid the typical annoyances of city life.  It’s also nice to be relatively close to many different places.  I love spending time in New York City, and hope to do that often now that I live so close.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). Unequal Childhoods – Annette Lareau; The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy; Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer; One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? Ok I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t – Brand New

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? I’m hoping to stay sane through grad school.  I’ll try to make time to do things I enjoy, and spend time with family and friends.  Other than that, I don’t have any set long term goals.

ZACH RICHER


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) The sociologists have only obfuscated the world, in various ways; the point is to understand it.

What are you liking most about living in the D.C. metro area? When I attend a disappointing political rally, I know that I can just go home on the metro.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). Spend junior high reading Vonnegut, high school reading Dostoevsky, college reading Wallace, and in grad school read your homework.

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? It would probably be a string of curse words, set to a melody of my own creation.

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you’re here in Maryland? I’d kind of like to do a zoography on gray and black squirrels on campus.

DANIEL SWANN


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) I think that sociology is useful for a variety of things, among the most important of which is generating conversations about the links between social phenomenon and social outcomes. I think that finding a balance between structure and agency in social psychology is one of the best ways at getting at some of the worlds most historically pressing questions such as ‘why do people do what they do?’ ‘ why people believe what they believe’ and ‘why do people turn out the way the way the do?’

What are you liking most about living in the DC metro area? Since, I’m from here I just like being back home.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). Treatise on the Gods Mencken; The Souls of Black Folks DuBois; The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism, Calculating God Sawyer

If you were stuck in the data dungeon (aka the department computer lab) for hours on end with your whole month’s worth of Pandora access spent, what one song would you sing to yourself over and over and over again while you worked? “Us” by Ice Cube

Besides getting a PhD, what are you hoping to do in the next half-decade or so that you are here in Maryland? Come to some sort of clarity on how to merge my passions with being successful and fulfilled.

Free for all! Insert and answer your own question here! Who are some of your major influences on your academic work? Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, Zora Neale Hurston, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, Martin Bunzl, Locke, Sarte, Hobbes, Jerry Foder.

JENELLE VILLAREAL


What’s sociology good for? (in other words, what burning questions do you have that sociology helps you get at? Are there particular areas of sociology (a.k.a. “specialty areas” — standard, alternative, never-before-heard-of) that help you get at those questions better?) Sociology helps me study all those strange ways that status differences influence social interaction. In case you can’t tell, I’m in love with social psychology.

What are you liking most about living in the DC metro area? It’s so much prettier here than in Texas and there’s so much fun stuff in DC. That said, DC is only fun if I don’t have to drive through it.

Give us your (grossly abbreviated) essential reading list (both sociology and non-sociology suggestions welcome!). I adore reading. Most of what I read is classic fiction and my home library probably looks like a literature teacher’s dream. Thus, my list of favorite books is probably not terribly useful or exciting to most people. However, one book that I would recommend to anyone and everyone is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you want me to get really picky, the best translation is by Katherine Woods.

What is one hobby you still have time to do? Cooking. I have a beautiful collection of cookbooks that I use very often, and lately I’ve started baking when I get particularly stressed. (Be prepared, I will probably bring food to campus to share a few times a semester and I might ask some of you to taste test my wedding food ideas sometime in the next 7 months.)

What one thing should you never ask me about? Politics. I hate politics. I don’t keep up with it well. Maybe I should have factored that in a little bit more before moving so close to the city of politicians.

Random fact? I can legibly write upside down in cursive.

The New Fall 2010 – Spring 2011 Graduate Student Forum

Administration Team

President:  Kathleen Denny

Treasurer:  Lori Reeder

Community Building Team

Department News:   Beverly Pratt & Meg Austin Smith

C. Wright Mills Reps:  PJ Rey

Social Chairs:  Mandi Martinez & Danny Swann

Representative Team

Pre-candidacy Rep:  Joanna Kling

PhD Rep:  Mary Kniskern

General GSF Reps:  Kendra Barber, Valerie Chepp, Tyler Crabb, Crosby Hipes, Marek Posard,

Dave Strohecker

UMD Graduate Student Government Rep:  Aleia Clarke

Committee Representatives

Admissions Reps:  Molly Clever & Meg Austin Smith

Policy Committee Rep:  Anya Galli

Awards Committee Rep:  Kathleen Denny

Undergraduate Committee Rep:  Joanna Kling

New GSF Election Process by Kathleen Denny

At their November meeting, the Graduate Student Forum (GSF) voted to move the group’s election process from September to May.  Currently, the GSF solicits nominations and undergoes its elections process for new officials and representatives at the beginning of the academic year.  Consequently, this often means GSF business does not get rolling until early October.  Moving these elections to the end of the academic year is thought to have multiple advantages, the greatest of which is that the GSF can hit the ground running first thing in September.  This is good news for many reasons, including having the first social events earlier in the fall semester and having consistent student representation on faculty sub-committees even at the earliest meetings.

The biggest drawback to moving the GSF elections to May is that incoming first year students would be absent from the elections process.  To address this, the GSF has decided to reserve at least one spot on the representative team for a first year student (e.g., “first year cohort representative”).  Elections for this position(s) will be held at the beginning of the fall semester once the new students have joined the department.  The details of which and how many positions to reserve for first year students will be addressed by the GSF in our first meeting of the coming spring semester.

The new elections process will take place in late April/early May, following departmental announcements of funding decisions and TA/RA assignments for graduate students.  The elections process itself, including nomination solicitation, voting, and announcement of results, will continue to occur via email as it has in the past.

Kathleen is a 3rd year PhD student & is the current GSF President.

Staff Spotlight: Nakul Sharma (written by Sarah Wanenchak)

Although his job as our intrepid office GA keeps him pretty busy, Nakul Sharma graciously agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions about the work he does, both for us here in the department and in the university at large.

One of Nakul’s responsibilities is to provide IT support for the entire department, including all lounges, labs, offices, and the main office as well. Not content with this considerable undertaking, he also works as a general office assistant under Gerry Todd, maintaining adequate office supplies of all kinds, and refilling orders when it’s deemed appropriate. Finally, he now maintains the department website and keeps it up to date.

Originally from India, Nakul says that this is his first real experience of an American office environment, and he is enjoying it very much. He says that one of his favorite parts of the job is the supportive and friendly atmosphere of the department, and how welcoming everyone has
been to him. He is also enjoying the technical side of his job a great deal, and says that it provides him with valuable experience and training for the field he eventually wants to enter: the investment banking sector. Nakul is in his second semester of a Master’s program in Information Management, and he hopes to use this training in a position as a liaison between the technical and business sides of the arena of investment banking.

One valuable challenge that Nakul says he has encountered in his GA work is in learning how to identify immediate priorities in the juggling of different tasks and different responsibilities, especially when it may not be clear which is the best path to take. Although this can be
difficult to negotiate at times, he feels that he is settling in nicely, and that this skill will also serve him very well as he prepares to pursue his chosen career.

As Nakul looks ahead to the rest of the semester and the academic year, he expresses gratification at the assistance and support he’s received from his colleagues, and the students and faculty in the department. He says that he looks forward to working hard and keeping up the levels of both his academic and his professional progress.

Sarah is a 2nd year PhD student.

Faculty Spotlight: Meredith Kleycamp (written by Meg Austin Smith)

Meredith Kleykamp was looking at pictures of her then-boyfriend’s platoon: all the Black men were standing in the back. “Why are y’all segregated?” she asked, pointing to the photo. “Oh those are all my NCOs” – enlisted leaders, he said.

At that time, Meredith was headed to graduate school with a clear research question: how does the immigrant health paradox operate among Hispanic children?  She was attending a summer math refresher before her first Fall at Princeton when she met an Army officer taking the same course as part of his studies to teach at West Point.  She began to learn about the military.

After writing her comprehensive exams in immigration, stratification, and demography, Meredith’s advisor at Princeton told her about a recent dissertation addressing nearly her very same research question. She was left with a decision about how to change course. Through dialogue with the man who would become her husband new interests had emerged—interests she came to realize could be pursued as research questions. What was it like to serve in the military? How did race shape experiences in the military? Employment opportunities after?

Around the same time, she began to do RA work for Bruce Western who soon became her advisor. Western’s work had to do with mass incarceration and racial inequality, and he was conducting an in-person audit study, sending out resumes and looking at who received call backs for interviews. He was supportive enough, however, to help Meredith pursue her questions about military service and opportunities, for which she felt particularly grateful: “this was before 9-11. You really had to justify why you were studying the military.”

Western’s audit study method proved to be helpful in approaching those questions. Meredith’s dissertation, “Military Service and Minority Opportunity,” used a variety of data including military administrative data and a field experiment to look at men’s experiences in joining the military and the transition to civilian employment. The NSF grant she received during her assistant professorship at the University of Kansas allowed her to replicate the audit study in her dissertation with men and women.

Enfolding work and family life has been “instrumental” for Meredith: she’s deeply appreciated being able to discuss her questions and her observations with her husband. Now there are two main men in her life. But even though one of them is three months into kindergarten, Meredith is pretty sure she won’t be trying out any audit studies with the resumes of kindergarten job-seekers. There are other ways to bring things together: a child-sized Terp t-shirt—heck, Terp t-shirts for the whole family—might not be out of the question.

Meg is a 2nd year PhD student.

Undergraduate Spotlight: Sean Gray

“You’re going to have to use your mind much more than I ever did,” my father told me very matter of factly. N either of my parents ever went to college; I knew taking this journey would mean I would in some way have to do it alone. When I graduated high school, I knew school wasn’t for me right away. As I was leaving high school I was becoming increasingly involved in independent music. This of course was before the pitchforks and blog-hypes we see today of so called “independent music.” There was an energy that this culture gave to me that I had never experienced before. Through bands such as Sonic Youth, Bikini Kill, The Need, and other punk/indie bands at the time, I was able to understand such issues as feminism, gay marri age rights, globalization, and so on. While I knew in a college I would be able to find people that liked these bands and who would share my views on these issues that I was being exposed to, at the age between 18-24 I knew that my time couldn’t be fully dedicated to music if I was studying.

I started a fanzine interviewing bands and covering social issues that meant something to me, started a record label, and went on many tours with bands that went through parts of the United States that I never thought I would see. I realized during one tour, though, that if I wanted to be exposed to more of the world around me, I should at the very least try college. During high school and after working a job, I saved money, enough to get me started through community college. My parents didn’t have the money or resources to help me through school. I knew I had to start somewhere and I was lucky enough to live near one of the best community colleges in the United States.

I started off as a Journalism-major at Howard Community College. I wrote for the school newspaper, all music reviews of course. However, I felt in the end that I didn’t need a degree to write. During my first year I took a Sociology course. My professor asked us two questions: Can you tell me every step you took this morning to get ready? Then later: What does two plus two equal? The first question when people went through their answers, the professor would for example say, “Well, why did you brush your teeth?  Were you born knowing that?” I chuckled and knew he was on to something. But the second question is what got me thinking. Does it equal four? Why? Who says it has to? Who defines these answers? When he asked us those questions, I knew Sociology was for me.

I became increasingly interested in identity.  For example, how do we define someone who is disabled? Why do we define it that way? The idea that identities are not just masks you make, but masks that are made for you then manipulated over time by others. My community college professor realized I had these questions and that I needed to take my education a step further; not so much to answer the questions but to ask even more. He recommended the University of Maryland (UMD). It was here I fell in love with Sociology.

The first Sociology professor I had at UMD is one of four that will forever be in my mind as I continue my studies. Dr. Jeff Lucas taught my Social Psych class. His lectures made me take my studies to the next level. He expected a lot out of his students, and wasn’t afraid to say it. He seemed to love his job and wanted to challenge students. Even when I didn’t do so well on his first exam, I knew it was for the best and I knew he made it difficult for my benefit. He, in a way, took me under his wing and even let me be part of his lab team the next semester. I was able to experience first hand what professional Sociology can be like.

Professor Andrew Timleck, who I had two classes with (Sociology of Deviance and Social Self), showed me why I should always challenge myself beyond professional sociology. He presented me with the idea that love for sociology isn’t just to study it nor is it to change the world.  Rather it is to better understand the world you live in. He instilled in me the idea that to understand the world you live in, you have to put your self out there, even if it might be viewed as overly intellectual. He didn’t care what people thought of him and I loved that.

Dr. Anthony Hatch and Dr. Patricia Hill Collins, two of my later professors and both similar in teaching style, gave me the final piece I need to always stay in love with Sociology. They both taught me that the sky is the limit. To love Sociology is to give it no bounds, to explore ideas and things that matter to you. Then and only then can you understand what Sociology is; Sociology is us.

This sociological Imagination that I have crafted and developed is not a heavy theoretical one. And while I love theorists like Butler or Foucault, the definition of my sociological imagination is simple: asking why and how. As I sit at my desk studying for the GRE, almost 5 years from the start of my love of Sociology, I still ask those why and how questions wherever I go. This window that one views the world through is only as clear as you allow yourself to make it. Along with Sociology and the people that have cared for my education and for the development of my sociological imagination, the window has never been clearer.

Sean is a senior undergraduate student.

Graduate Student Spotlights: Joanna Kling & Lori Reeder

As dear friends and colleagues, Joanna and Lori interviewed each other for this graduate student spotlight section.  First is Lori’s interview with Joanna and then Joanna’s with Lori.  Enjoy!

Joanna Kling

Name: Joanna Kling.

Areas of Focus: Demography and Gender, Work, and Family (Second Year).

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD.

Undergraduate College: Muhlenberg College (A very small college in Allentown, PA).

Pets: None.

First job: Little league umpire (The kids were awesome, the parents were so annoying!).

Siblings: Two sisters, I am in the middle.

Lori: How would you describe the path that brought you to pursuing an academic career in Sociology?
Joanna: I thought taking Sociology classes was a path to being a social worker – which is what I thought I would be coming out of college, but I was wrong.  I kept taking Sociology classes because I liked that the classes were relevant to things I had always been interested in like race and class.  I also like how challenging the professors in the Sociology/Anthropology department were.  After I graduated, I worked at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in DC.  I realized quickly that if I ever wanted to move up in a research organization like that, I would need a Ph.D.  So here I am!

L: How has the transition from working in DC to being a grad school been? J: I thought I was going to be able to keep my 9-5 hours when I came to grad school, but that has failed.  I do miss the idea of leaving work at work, but I really appreciate the flexibility in my day-to-day activities in graduate school.  I can go to the doctor and not have to notify three different bosses of my absence.  I moved out of DC when I started school and I miss living there.  I still do the things in DC that I really enjoyed; it just takes longer to get there.

L: What do you do for fun when you’re not doing something school-related?
J: I think most people already know that I dance- a lot.  I Israeli dance at least once a week and I try to go out and Salsa once or twice a month.

L: How do you de-stress?
J: Besides dancing?  I run away to visit friends in Philly, New Jersey, or New York.  I de-stress on the long drives when I can put on music and sing (badly) really loudly.  I can’t seem to take my mind off work unless I’m out of Maryland.

L: What are your tips for successfully staying on top of the variety of tasks you have to complete on any given day? J: Make lists, lots of lists, so you don’t forget things.  Also, be realistic about when you actually get work done.  For some reason I don’t concentrate well between the hours of 5-7 in the evening, so I usually eat dinner and watch bad TV during this time (unless I’m in class – obviously).

L: How has the transition been from being a 1st Year to a 2nd year? J: In the 1st year it was a gamble (at least in my own head) about whether or not I would be able to get all of the assignments and RA work done.  Coming into this 2nd year, I definitely felt like I could actually do the work.  I guess my confidence has grown a little.  There are many things that are still intimidating though.  I switched from being an RA to a TA this year and that has come with many new challenges, especially managing my time.  But I am glad the initial “learning to navigate” the department and the university is over.

Lori Reeder

Name: Lori Reeder.

Areas of Focus: Demography and Gender, Work, and Family (Second Year).

Hometown: Lock Haven, PA.

Undergraduate College: Penn State University (of course!).

Pets: One cat.  His name is Hans.

First job: Dairy Queen.

Joanna: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Lori: First, a lawyer.  Then a forensic psychologist (CSI had an impact on me in middle school).

J: How would you describe the path that brought you to pursuing an academic career in Sociology?
L: As an undergraduate I always felt strongly about social issues and initially thought about majoring in Political Science.  However, my first introductory course to Sociology drew me into it.  I double-majored in Sociology and Criminology thinking that I would pursue a job in social work.  When I graduated from Penn State, I was not ready to go straight into graduate school so I joined AmeriCorps and worked as a caseworker at a homeless shelter for a year.  Within the first couple of months of working in social services I realized that I did want to continue studying Sociology in graduate school.  And now I am here at UMD!

J: How has the transition from rural Pennsylvania to a metropolitan area been?

L: It has been difficult because I much prefer smaller cities to large metropolitan areas.  This area has a ‘constantly busy’ feeling and I hate the traffic.  Living in Philadelphia while working for AmeriCorps helped the transition a little, but I am not accustomed to being so far from home and the large crowds.  Having a great roommate and a great cohort has really eased the transition.

J: What do you do for fun when you’re not doing something school-related?
L: I love to bake and cook, though I find I have little time for either.  I have occasional dinner parties.  I also like to explore new things in DC since there are a myriad of things to do. My roommate has coerced me into training for a 5k with her so I go running in the evenings.

J: How do you de-stress?
L: I find it most relaxing to read a book for pleasure or space-out and watch whatever is on E!.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don’t do either of these too often.   Sometimes I shop, but that’s a luxury given my budget.

J: What are your tips for successfully staying on top of the variety of tasks you have to complete on any given day? L: Adhering to a strict schedule.  This includes bed-time and wake-up time and knowing when to stop working for the day.

J: How has the transition been from being a 1st Year to a 2nd year? L: It has been interesting because I feel a lot more motivated this year and I have a clearer sense of what is expected of me and what I need to get done.  I feel like I have a better sense of how to prioritize the various things I need to accomplish.  However, there are new challenges.  The 2nd year paper is particularly daunting, but I know I will get through it.

The Postmodern Politics of the Sanity Rally by Nathan Jurgenson

I’ve watched mass gatherings with great interest while living in Washington D.C. From Obama’s election night and inauguration to various marches, and, of course, Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart’s rallies to restore “honor” and “sanity,” respectively. These last two, both organized by cable television personalities, brought massive amounts of people to the National Mall, so many people that these rallies might be telling us something about our current moment in American political discourse and participation. Let me describe yesterday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and argue that the politics of irony on display are more than “mere spectacle,” but potentially quite powerful.

Left, White and Bigger than Beck
Like Beck’s rally, yesterday’s crowd was partisan and mostly white. It was far less diverse than Obama’s election night celebrations or his inauguration day, a point that deserves its own analysis. It was clear to anyone who attended both Beck and Stewart’s rallies that the latter brought the larger crowd. Current estimates have yesterday’s crowd at around 215,000 people (about 2.5 times Beck’s 87,000). And, of course, Stewart’s attendees were largely on the political left.

A Postmodern Event
If you have seen any images from the event [here are some photos I took], you know that it was intended to be humorous and entertaining. Yes, there was Stewart and Colbert on stage, their shtick was good as always, but more importantly there were the many hilarious signs and costumes created by the attendees. People watching gets no better than this. The rally was indeed a site for creativity and expression. There was a somewhat incoherent “pastiche” of images presented. If there was a central theme, perhaps it was “irony” -you know, in that weird way we use it to mean “sarcastic.” This event had all the hallmarks of a more postmodern space for possibilities of all kinds, be they intellectual, artistic, humorous, etc, than just a space for political rhetoric.

But is all of this irony and humor “mere spectacle” as my friend and blogger Les Andrist states? He tries to find the meaning of the event by looking to Stewart’s words, which will fall short of being powerful becuase political rhetoric is modern politics, and this is a postmodern event. I will argue that this event followed the logic of the spectacle in a potentially subversive way by inverting its own logic from within. Analyzing such an event means looking well past the words those on stage used. It might even require moving some of our attention away from the stage, that most modern of pulpits, and out towards the crowd

The Power of Humor
We can start by reflecting on the use of humor in the crowd. Without making this point explicitly, the hyperbolic irrationality of the Sanity Rally serves to mock those who are radical and irrational without such irony (e.g., some of the most ridiculous Tea Partiers, Beck, Palin, O’Donnell, etc). In response to media fear mongering, this rally attempted to be silly; those attending had fun during the day and danced on through the night -you don’t think the rally really ended at 3pm, do you.

Guy DeBord and the situationists in France in the 1960’s saw the blurring of entertainment and politics as dangerous, and reacted in highly political ways: riots, strikes, debate, violence, etc. However, their rejection of the logic of entertainment-politics was ultimately unsuccessful. Perhaps the Sanity Rally is a different strategy against entertainment-politics. This new strategy accepts that the logic of our moment is spectacle, and attempts to critique the system using its own logic. Sure, it reifies the logic, but it might be the best we can do to reform a political discourse out of control. The Sanity Rally was silly because the people there felt that the rest of American political discourse is increasingly a joke -remember, Stewart may be the most trusted news anchor in America. This was a massive media event lead by a comedian, ridiculous attendees were taking lots of pictures, and most importantly, it was all funny. This group of people all gathered together and ran with the idea of politics-as-entertainment, which, in effect, calls attention to precisely this trend.

Thus, it would be a mistake to dismiss the postmodern politics of irony -the dance, the signs, the costumes, the jokes, the play, the free expression- as devoid of meaning. When politics become synonymous with entertainment we can expect people to use entertainment to fight back. The joke itself is a message, and it is not trivial.

Play is Political
Instead, we should recognize that humor is an incredibly powerful tool of persuasion. Tina Fey’s famous impersonation made the very idea of Palin’s campaign look hilarious, which was potentially more harmful than if one disagreed with her. I believe the Tea-Party’s greatest limitation is not that people disagree with them substantively, but that so many Americans think they are hilarious. To be disagreed with might be tough, but to be laughed at and not be a part of the joke is debilitating.

Thus, humor is a powerful political tool. The silliness of the Sanity Rally can have powerful, substantive, real, material political consequences. If it hinders the Tea-Party, it could impact who our elected officials are, what laws get enacted and so on. In a postmodern politics, play is political.

So, was The Rally to Restore Sanity a joke or a political rally? Both. Did it make a mockery of American politics on the hallowed National Mall before an important national election? Of course, and that is kind of the point. ~nathanjurgenson.com

Nathan is a 4th year graduate student.

Restoring Sanity is Overrated: My Reflections on the Rally by Les Andrist

While on the National Mall yesterday at the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” I walked past an unamused man holding a sign with the message, “More Jobs, more money, more compassion.” Standing behind him, about 20 feet away, was Darth Vader grabbing the ass of a pale looking zombie. I think The Village People were playing in the background. “What the hell is Stewart’s rally all about?” I kept asking myself. Was I missing the point? Sure —some allowance must be made for the carnival-like atmosphere on the day before Halloween. Darth Vader, for instance, can be permitted to coexist with Hobbits but what was the political purpose of this event, which seemed to stir up so much interest among liberal-leaning thinkers in recent weeks?

“Are you going to the rally?” I must have been asked this question a dozen times in recent days. In each case, there seemed to be real relief and enthusiasm behind in the question, presumably because finally someone would be articulating an explanation against the worldview offered by vocal conservatives.

People have been hurting for some time now in this recession and there is a collective mood that despite their hard work and vigilance, they’ve lost their savings or perhaps they’ve been stamped as delinquent on their mortgage. These are people with real grievances, who often view themselves as hard working, patriotic Americans, and it was the Tea Party, who effectively articulated an explanation for their woes.

As Tea Party activists have it, what is needed to rectify this grave indignation visited upon the American people was not first and foremost a movement to compel greater regulation against the practice of predatory lending in the housing sector; nor is there a call to regulate the kind of financial innovation that contributed to the crises. Instead the problem was somehow a United States that had turned horribly socialist—communist even—by suggesting a policy of universal healthcare. Rather than a discussion which seriously evaluates the role big business ought to play in ensuring the health and well being of the people it employs, those most hurt by the recession are encouraged by the Tea Party to fix their cross hairs on “Illegal aliens,” and while the reason for this is often unmentioned, the image we’re left with is that of a sieve which leaks into the Great American Desert an undifferentiated horde of brown folks. They seek our jobs, and mooch our dwindling pot of resources, and despite this imposition, they can’t even be bothered to learn English. This has been the message from the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh, and it was implicitly tied up with Beck’s call to “restore honor” in late August of this year.

For those who have been tracking the momentum of the Tea Party, this should all sound familiar, but I’ll steal a page from Noam Chomsky and suggest that rather than smug ridicule aimed at Tea Party activists, critics should be asking why hasn’t there been even a semblance of an opposition movement from the left?

When Colbert recently offered testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Immigration, I thought I detected the beginnings of an alternative to the usual story about that invading horde from our southern border. His prepared testimony was pure satire, which is always a relatively sophisticated critique masquerading as mere levity, but just in case there was any doubt that he was leveling a criticism, he offered the following in response to Representative Judy Chu’s question about why he is interested in the issue of immigration:

“They are migrant workers who come here and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result, and yet we still invite them to come here, and at the same time, ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me…and, you know, whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, and these seem like the least of our brothers right now…migrant workers suffer and have no rights.”

Colbert’s account of the immigrant stands in obvious relief to that offered by conservative pundits, and following his testimony came the meager signs of a momentum building toward something even more coherent. In response to Beck’s “Rally to Restore Honor,” came an announcement from Jon Stewart that there would be a similar “Rally to Restore Sanity,” and Colbert joined in with his own “Rally to Keep Fear Alive.” Both rallies were named with an eye toward satire, not merely intended to debase Beck’s rally, but to draw attention to the way average folks are being manipulated by politicians and media personalities in general. Just like the call to restore honor, restoring sanity seemed clearly intended to poke fun at all vacuous political slogans that succeed in rallying support for political leaders and their movements without actually committing them to meaningful action. Who could disagree with honor? Who among us doesn’t want more sanity?

So I was somewhat disappointed when I arrived to the Mall just before noon on the day of the rally and began hearing from people that the reason they were there was because they had a genuine interest in restoring sanity to America. What is meant by “insane” or what precisely “America” is doing that is so insane was largely left unarticulated, and when I pressed people to explain who the insane folk are, many pointed to conservative media personalities like Glenn Beck or Tea Party activists, commonly derided as Tea Baggers.

The satire—that sophisticated critique of power—seemed to have been lost on many of those who attended. Instead it looked to be a big party among people who wanted to celebrate their healthy senses of humor and reasonableness. One guy’s sign read, “My wife thinks I’m walking the Appalachian Trail,” and just beyond it, another called to, “Stop Illegal Immigration,” by keeping “Canadian geese from entering our country.” But while so many attendees were patting themselves on the backs for the irony of creating a political sign without an overt political message, or for merely deriding the concerns many Tea Party activists have about whether illegal immigration will lead to ever more dwindling wages and delinquent mortgages, a few people showed up with signs and the audacity to ask the government for something.  Such attendees were relatively scarce though, and the man I mentioned earlier, who asked for “more jobs, more money, [and] more compassion,” stood on the outskirts of the rally, near the Archives-Navy Memorial Metro station. He seemed to be contemplating a trip home just as the rally seemed to be heating up.

So what was the rally actually about? “What exactly was this?” Jon Stewart didn’t know and didn’t want to “control” what people thought the rally was. He began his closing remarks by explaining his intentions for it and telling us flatly that it wasn’t intended as an effort to ridicule people of faith or activism. By striking a more serious tone, I wondered if he was seeking to provide some substance and coherence and attempting to make the rally something more than mere spectacle or an overzealous party where attendees habitually wink at each other in mutual assurance that they know crazy when they see it.

A few minutes later, just after a random crack about burning ants, Stewart at last specified what he believed to be real sanity, which he insisted most of us already had and was something in opposition to the hyperbole currently raging throughout the American media. Against the disingenuous politicos that saturate cable news, what is needed is the ability to make reasonable distinction, and he added, “the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.”

“Excellent!” I thought. “Let’s do something now!” Let’s name political candidates who routinely render the terms ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ indistinct. Or perhaps Stewart will address the issue of unauthorized immigration because it is an issue often championed by conservatives and referenced in the rally’s signage. Perhaps he’ll hammer out at least the beginnings of an alternate narrative about how immigrants have been scapegoated as the ultimate cause for lost jobs and declining wages. Instead, Stewart offered a traffic analogy. We’re reasonable folks, he seemed to say, because we routinely yield the right of way, so the mass of us can succeed in commuting to and from our jobs? Concession by concession, we all get along far better than what is typically depicted in the media.

I couldn’t help but feel profoundly disappointed. Conservatives, least of all Glenn Beck and Tea Party activists, continue to articulate explanations that endeavor to account for the hurt people feel in this recession. They formulate powerful narratives about invasion from a foreign “Other.” They draw from a rich pool of persistent stereotypes, which have remained lodged in the collective imagination of Americans far longer than most people realize. These articulators of the conservative worldview offer tangible scapegoats in the form of Muslims, immigrants, and socialists, and from their tangible narratives are prescriptions for tangible action. What is needed, they argue, is a sort of enclave society and one which demands vigilance against people dressed in Muslim garb. An ever taller, ever deeper fence must be constructed on our southern border. We must curtail socialist efforts by big government to redistribute resources to the less deserving “least of our brothers.” It is a tightly woven narrative, but one that so often defies statistical facts. It especially defies textured understandings that refuse to uncritically trade in stereotypes, and it nearly always defies a political-economic perspective, such as that offered only last Thursday by Laura Sullivan, an NPR journalist who broke the story about how private prison companies who would benefit enormously from a growing population of detained immigrants actually had a role in drafting the Arizona bill that would ensure the growth of that population—Senate Bill 1070.

If, as Stewart claims, we’re all still sane and capable of achieving (something) “every damn day” despite being immersed in a sensationalistic news environment, and all that is needed is persistent sanity, then there really is nothing to be done other than an occasional affirmation about remaining sane and possibly practicing patience during rush hour traffic. At its core, Stuart’s message and those who claimed to be there to restore sanity seems to be about keeping faith in America and being patient with each other, and that’s fine as far as it goes; however, without a competing explanation of why times are difficult and a proposal to do something about it, the rally sends a disturbing message of ambivalence, albeit a kind-hearted one. The rally, whatever Stewart wants to claim now, was responding to Beck’s rally to restore honor, but rather than responding to Beck or even facilitating a space from which others could respond to Beck, we got Ozzy Osbourne and traffic analogies.

Les is a 6th year graduate student.

Building a Sociological Cinema: The Pedagogical Case for Video in the Classroom by Lester Andrist, Valerie Chepp, & Paul Dean

Back in early Fall of 2009, we decided to build a sociological cinema. The idea came about as a response to our experiences teaching three different sociology classes. We found that when we screened a video clip in class to demonstrate a key concept, class discussion often became livelier, more students participated, and our students seemed better able to draw upon the key concept in their evaluation of subsequent ideas.  So, for the past year, we have been developing a website, The Sociological Cinema, which connects instructors with videos and other video-related resources that they can use in teaching sociology.

In one sense, then, the impetus for building our site stems from our own experiences in the classroom and the recognition that videos are effective tools of instruction. In fact, a growing body of evidence supports this conclusion and even expands on it. According to sociologist Michael Miller (2009), “their most critical function in terms of cognitive learning appears to lie in their capacity to serve as representational applications for key course ideas” (see also Champoux 1999).  For example, an excerpt from a CNN broadcast on the propagation of closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) is very useful for demonstrating Foucault’s theories of surveillance and discipline. Videos can effectively convey concepts using examples from the feature films of popular culture or the so-called “realism” depicted in news reports and documentaries. They can vividly bring concepts and processes to life by weaving them into an emotionally charged narrative.

Recent scholarship also demonstrates that videos can improve student engagement in class material (Wynn 2009). This fits with our own experiences as sociology instructors. Using open-ended in-class evaluations of videos, we found that students believed videos were important in helping them draw connections to their own life experiences, that they connected class material to “real life” more generally, and that the videos met a need for a surprising number of students who believed themselves to be “visual learners.” Today’s undergraduates, dubbed the “net generation,” have only known life with online videos and other multimedia; they engage this media in their everyday lives and increasingly expect such media to be integrated within their classes (Oblinger and Oblinger 2005).

In addition to illustrating sociological concepts, videos can be used as a means of introducing analyses and commentaries which supplement traditional course content (Austin 2005). Videos can facilitate media literacy, and recent research even suggests that such visual technologies also facilitate civic engagement beyond the classroom (Bennet 2008).  More than rousing student engagement and enriching their understanding, videos offer the opportunity to introduce humor and levity into the classroom, which often has the effect of relieving student self-consciousness. Bingham and Hernandez (2009), for instance, find comedy, and comedy clips in particular, to be an effective tool in teaching sociological perspectives.  Instructors may, then, seek to integrate clips from the “Colbert Report” or “The Onion,” encouraging students to analyze social expectations and why a failure to conform often makes us laugh.

While the benefits of bringing video clips into the classroom may be well-documented, instructors still face the task of finding good clips and then figuring out how to use them effectively. But the internet is an un-zoned metropole with a jumbled circuitry of narrow alleyways, and often the best cinemas are tucked away in strange corners. There are sites, such as YouTube, which serve as warehouses for searchable video clips, but such sites hold so much content coming from so many varied sources that instructors are generally unable to efficiently comb it for useful clips. On YouTube, an instructor who wants to find a clip depicting the bear subculture within the LGBTQ community is likely to find wildlife videos, and an instructor looking for clips on sexism will rarely be directed to the sexism found in recent car commercials. The search for such clips can be daunting and discouraging, and herein lies the second impetus for building The Sociological Cinema.

We built The Sociological Cinema, in part, as a practical means of spending less time finding clips. After cataloguing a number of the videos we used, it became apparent that it was possible to break them up into types. While we have taken some of our clips from documentaries and lectures, the majority come from popular culture, including television shows, movies, and video remixes or mashups. In some cases, it is relatively obvious how a particular clip would be helpful in a sociology classroom. For instance, excerpts from Jackson Katz’s documentary, “Tough Guise,” are unmistakably useful in a class on the sociology of gender because the clips explicitly demonstrate how hegemonic masculinity hurts men as well as women. On the other hand, the utility of a good number of other clips is only apparent because of the intellectual content or teaching suggestions we attach to those clips. For instance, The Sociological Cinema links to an eight-minute documentary designed to laud the efforts of fair trade coffee producers, but we have posted this clip and suggested it be used as an effective way to teach students about Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism (here). A third example is a clip from the popular television show The Bachelorette, which features a scene where contestants discuss “Man Code” and the presumed obligations of other men to abide by its rules (here). The teaching suggestion that accompanies this clip recommends using it as a means of spurring discussion on Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity and Kimmel’s concept of masculinity as homophobia.

As we have continued to add content to The Sociological Cinema, we have come to appreciate an additional function of our site. That is, in addition to helping instructors find resources that will provide students with a firm foundation of sociological concepts and theories while also developing their sociological imaginations and critical thinking skills, The Sociological Cinema works as a resource that refuses to consume culture at face value. We are an important voice because we pose important questions to students, such as, “How does this idea of “Man Code” gain momentum, and what are the consequences of it for people?” Our brief analyses of clips, coupled with the teaching suggestions we offer, are challenges to the usual meanings, which already bombard students on a daily basis, both inside and outside the classroom.

We hope you check out The Sociological Cinema and find it useful.  Enjoy the site, and help us build the cinema by spreading the word or contributing a video of your own.

Les is a 6th year, Valerie is a 4th year, and Paul is a 6th year graduate student.

Teaching Support Group by Kendra Barber

Hi everyone! I’m starting a teaching support group and I want to open it up to anyone who is interested. It’s not restricted to sociology students, so if you know other people who may be interested they are free to join.

When I say a teaching support group I know the image of a twelve-step program probably pops into your head. “Hi my name is Kendra and my students are driving me nuts…[group says] Hi Kendraaaa.” Haha! Not quite. Basically what I have in mind is just a space where people who consider their teaching as a form of activism can talk to each other, support each other, and swap advice and resources. It’s particularly for those of us in Sociology, American Studies, Women’s Studies, etc. who teach (or will teach) contentious topics regarding racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, abelism, religious oppression, etc. and want to talk about how to deal with all that goes along with teaching that territory. I think not only will it help keep us sane and improve our teaching, but it will keep our morale up when we feel like we’re not making a difference, and hopefully help us find colleagues who have strengths and privileges some of us may not who could talk to our classes. I also see this as a resource for us to discuss what to do when students are working full time and attending school full time, or outstanding students that we want to mentor and provide resources for. I think that we often have these types of conversations one on one and it might be more productive to vent or get resources from a number of people. This teaching support group is not intended to take the place of Linda Moghadam’s Teaching Assistants Seminar.

I don’t want this to be a serious time commitment because we all have plenty to do, so I think a monthly meeting will be a good start. With that said our first meeting will be Thursday December 2nd at 4pm in C. Wright Mills. If you can come by please do. If you can’t but are interested, please email me at kbarber@socy.umd.edu.

Kendra is a 4th year graduate student.

Working Groups: Bridging Gaps in the Apprenticeship Model by Joe Waggle

At the November meeting of the Graduate Student Forum, one of the primary topics of discussion on the agenda was the department’s latest effort toward an apprenticeship model. At a previous meeting of graduate students and their director, Bill Falk, one of the proposed methods of instituting this apprenticeship model was by establishing working groups, where students and faculty could come together in small groups to share work, review literature, and discuss some of the issues pertaining to that group’s interest.

Under this proposed working group system, students would be able to suggest groups that they would like to see instituted, so that these groups would more closely align with current student interests. These could mirror our department’s specialty areas, but could also cut across specialties. For example, there could be a general demography group, but there could also be a group each for studying migration, fertility, and health and mortality, each of which encompasses elements of various other specialties. Likewise, there could be a group for demography in an American context, one in a Western context, and one in a developing context. There could also be groups where students from many specialties come together to discuss a common research method of interest. Through these examples, it is clear to see that these groups could bridge interests in demography with interests in stratification, development, globalizing theory, and other specialty areas. This cross-sectional approach would lead to more diverse groups with a more inclusive list of interests and skill sets, and would thus appeal to broader swaths of faculty and students.

These groups would be arranged around their own internal logic. The students involved in those groups would set the agenda, which could include reading and critiquing one another’s work, exploring the latest literature relevant to that group’s interests, negotiating the ups and downs of the publication process together, or serving as critical practice audiences for up-coming conference presentations. Basing these groups on their own internal logic means that the students and faculty in these groups would have a certain level of flexibility in how the group develops over time.

This working group system is especially important for students who intend to do an alternative specialty exam; by proposing that exam as a working group, or by measuring their interest in that alternative specialty against an existing group, those students are exposed to research and methods that they may not otherwise consider. They would also be exposed to faculty who may be instrumental in advising their future research.

Very soon, graduate students can expect to be contacted through department email about this working group system. To streamline the process of proposing groups, second-year graduate students Lori Reeder and Joe Waggle will be setting up an online forum, where interested students would be asked to submit, among other information, a group title and an agenda for that group. Once a list of proposed groups is gathered and circulated among students, the goal is to have these groups established as one-credit classes.

Ideally, these groups would run consistently every semester, though the faculty who participate could change as schedules permit. This way, the idea is that the graduate students are accountable for consistently showing up, participating, and setting the agenda, and the faculty would be called upon to serve as resources rather than directors. This is not to say that the faculty would be excluded from any decision-making power in these groups; in fact, they are encouraged to bring in anything from their experience and work that they feel may invigorate or enrich these groups. However, the system, as proposed, places the majority of the accountability and direction in the hands of the graduate students.

If implemented properly, this new system could add some powerful and productive energy to the graduate school process. It would put students and faculty in the same room who may otherwise not work together. The potential for collaboration and mutual support within this system is great, and has exciting implications for the future of the department’s efforts toward apprenticeship.

Joe is a 2nd year graduate student.

Katrina, We Miss You Already!

The headline says it all: Katrina, we miss you already!

The Office of International Education is a lucky office to have you!

Much luck,                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Graduate Student Forum & Sociology Graduate Students

I Know What You Did Last Summer

KENDRA BARBER

Going to Egypt has always been something I’ve wanted to do. In fact, I had dreams of being an egyptologist and even took a summer class at Brown University when I was in high school. Obviously I’ve picked another career path but my desire to visit Egypt never went away. When I found out about a professor who leads a study tour every summer I thought “why not?” So off to Egypt I went for a two week adventure and it was amazing! Pictures and video of the temples and pyramids simply do not do them justice. I got to cruise up the Nile, ride a camel (super scary!), and go inside the great pyramid. I couldn’t have imagined how amazing Egypt would be…or how great it would feel to cross off the number one goal on my bucket list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

VALERIE CHEPP

This summer, the UMD Sociology Department offered an undergraduate summer ethnography course, taught by graduate student Valerie Chepp.  Students in the course learned how to design and execute, from its inception, their very own original ethnographic research projects, including conceptualization of methodological design, gaining access to a field site, recruiting interview participants, interviewing, transcribing, maintaining field notes, conducting analysis, and writing a final report.  At the end of the summer, the ethnographers presented their research at an intra-departmental roundtable discussion in front of a small group of faculty and grad students.  Many thanks to the department for supporting this course and congrats to these UMD undergrads for the very fine work they accomplished this summer! Participating students included Lena Bottenfield, Welton Logan, and Andrew Payne.

NATHAN JURGENSON

I attended an NSF-sponsored summer retreat for the “Consortium for the Science of Socio-Technical Systems” held in the mountains outside of Portland. I brought a Sociological and Theoretical perspective and got a chance to do some hiking, where I snapped this picture:

DC Caribbean Fest was a blast, and ran through my neighborhood in DC. I took some pictures:

All of the pictures are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/nathanjurgenson/DCCarnival2010?feat=directlink

During ASA in Atlanta, PJ Rey, Dave Strohecker and I attended Living Walls, which was an alternative conference held in the evening in a couple of warehouses. There were world-renowned street artists, bands, and lectures. I took some pictures:

TANNISTHA SAMANTA

I have received the Policy Communications Fellowship for the year 2010-2011 from the Population Reference Bureau (www.prb.org), Washington DC and we had the opening workshop over the summer. This is a photo taken at DC with the other Fellows from different countries.

SARAH WANENCHAK

Rob and Sarah Wanenchak (nee Phipps) tie the knot on June 12th in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Coast, northern California’s still-pristine coastline, taken on Rob and Sarah’s honeymoon in late June. Find more on their travel blog at solongsohigh.wordpress.com.

Journal Rankings – From the Graduate Office

Rank 1 – Most Prestigious

American Journal of Sociology

American Sociological Review

Annual Review of Sociology

Demography

Social Forces

Social Psychology Quarterly

Rank 2

Administrative Science Quarterly

Armed Forces and Society

British Journal of Sociology

City and Community

Comparative Studies in Society and History

Economic Development and Cultural Change

Gender and Society

International Migration Review

Journal of Health and Social Behavior

Journal of Marriage and the Family

Journal of Mathematical Sociology

Journal of Scientific Study of Religion

Latin American Research Review

Population and Development Review

Population Studies

Public Opinion Quarterly

Rural Sociology

Social Networks

Social Problems

Social Science Quarterly

Social Science Research

Sociological Forum

Sociological Methods and Research

Sociological Methodology

Sociological Theory

Sociology

Sociology of Education

Theory and Society

Work and Occupations

 

Rank 3

 

AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV

Advances in Group Processes

American Behavioral Scientist

Annals of the Academy of Social and Political Science

Behavioral Science

Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology

Comparative Social Research

Consumer Culture

Current Research in Social Psychology

Current Sociology

Defense Analysis

Demographic Research

European Journal of Sociology

Family Planning Perspectives

Human Relations

International Family Planning Perspectives

International Journal of Comparative Sociology

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

International Journal of Sociology and the Family

International Sociology

Insurgent Sociologist

IT & Society

Journal of Biosocial Science

Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Journal of Conflict Resolution

Journal of Economics and Sociology

Journal of Family Issues

Journal of Political and Military Sociology

Journal of Social Issues

Journal of Social Psychology

Minerva

Politics and Society

Population and Environment

Population Research and Policy Review

Race and Ethnic Studies

Representative Research in Social Psychology

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility

Review of Religious Research

Science, Technology, and Human Values

Social Research

Social Science and Medicine

Social Science Computer Review

Social Science Journal

Sociological Focus

Sociological Inquiry

Sociological Perspectives

Sociological Practice Review

Sociological Quarterly

Sociological Spectrum

Sociology and Social Research

Sociology of Health and Illness

Sociology of Religion

Studies in Family Planning

Symbolic Interaction

Teaching Sociology

The Sports Journal

Urban Affairs Review

World Development

Youth and Society

 

Although we do not list journals in areas primarily identified with other departments, the rankings of such departments should be consulted in cases where sociologists publish in them. We have not listed foreign language sociology journals; for colleagues working abroad who publish in these journals, the rankings will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as the need arises.