Just wanted to report that my long road to finishing up my second Masters in Anthropology is done. I actually finished up last Spring but due to paperwork and general CUNY slowness, it only posted to our online repository yesterday.
Here it is in all it’s glory – Individual Thought Patterns: Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene
And in case you’re unfamiliar with my work or have only started reading this blog, my back story is that I started this blog when I went back to school to get my second masters. My hopes was that this blog would serve as a place where I could post my papers and thoughts about my program. Here are all the posts related to my research.
Somewhat early into my program, I became interested in ethnomusicology due to my main reader’s influence – Dr. Jonathan Shannon. He taught my first ethnology class and spoke about his own work in the Middle East on musical performance. This led me to look into musical subcultures. Pair that with my 2nd reader’s influence – Dr. Aminata Maraesa – and her work with women and health in Belize and I was hooked. Hence the birth of my thesis subject on women and extreme metal music.
At the time that I started writing, I was working at Columbia University with hopes to one day get a tenure position elsewhere (side note: Columbia doesn’t have tenure positions for their librarians!) Most librarian positions at colleges require you to have a second masters to be on the faculty tenure line. Columbia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my previous employers) didn’t have a faculty structure for their librarians.
After 4 years at Columbia, I luckily landed the job that I have now at Lehman college – which is a tenured position.
So what can I report? And would I do it all over again? To this, I have a plethora of insights to impart, in no particular order.
First among them:
- DON’T LOSE FAITH
That’s mainly because throughout, you will constantly doubt your self worth and ability to keep going. On top of that, if you’re like me and approaching your mid-thirties and a woman, you question how graduate work fits in with your career and family planning choices. As some of you may know, I had my daughter in the midst of grad school and was lucky enough to bounce right back into the thick of things, but to say it was easy would be the biggest understatement of the century. Not to mention – impostor syndrome (that’s a whole other post!)
2. FIND A NETWORK OF SUPPORT
You learn pretty quickly about the reliability of people in your program and school. For me, that was learning that Hunter’s graduate Anthropology program was very much a sink or swim environment with little funding. It fell victim to the general apathy and bureaucracy of the CUNY system. While that was an enlightening and challenging experience for me, I didn’t fault my instructors and professors, most of whom always seemed to be both encouraging and passionate about their own work. The issues lay with the lack of communication, the bureaucratic processes and multiple systems for self registering. In addition, for a grad program that caters exclusively to night students and older adults, administrative offices were never open during the night (i.e. Bursar, Degree Audit, Department Office, etc.)!
It wasn’t until the end of my program that I finally met other students as lost as I was with regard to the systems we needed to be checking (I kid you not: CUNY has several online systems – (Blackboard, CUNYFirst, the CUNY Portal, MyHunter, DegreeWorks, and MyHunter365 to name a few) or the timelines we needed to be adhering to. And just like that, I had a network of students, who, like me, could exchange and share information that wasn’t being shared widely throughout our program.
3. REACH OUT TO YOUR LIBRARIANS
I’m not just saying this because I am librarian. I’m saying this because college librarians are often the most informed folks out there. Think about it – their purpose in a college is to help you, the student, get the information you need. So look for them, take a basic research instruction class and ask for help. Most times, students and faculty aren’t even aware of the free resources available to them through their school.
4. READ & WRITE
It sounds simple but I think a lot of students who think about pursuing a Masters don’t really think about the implications of how much reading and writing you’ll be doing, especially in the humanities and social sciences. I’ve found the more you read and write, the better you’ll become in processing, digesting and articulating your thoughts on any given reading. This will eventually hone your research and thesis work.
5. TALK IT OUT
This might go along with point # 2 but use social media and informal gatherings to talk to others about your ideas. Present at conferences! I think back to how lucky I was to submit my draft thesis as a topic for my first Metal conference. Getting accepted to present was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I gained a network of academics who empowered me to keep continuing. In addition, because my topic was on Women and Extreme metal, finding folks in my own Anthropology department to support my interests was hard, so looking outside and talking with other metal academics was paramount. I presented at metal conferences, joined a professional metal academic organization and talked at popular culture conferences.
Another benefit was in 2014 when I attended the Popular Culture Association Conference and was exposed to the idea of ‘Vigilante Feminism” which I wrote about in my thesis!
Now that it’s over, I’ve already been asked the dreaded – “Now what?” question. To answer that is simple – I’m going to take a much-needed break to focus on my current librarian work.
In my new position as Head of Technical Services there’s much to learn about and I doubt even a full year on the job will enable me to know everything. It takes time, but I’m glad to have some new free time to devote to my career. Even better, my work allows me, or in some cases requires me, to continue pursuing my research interests. That’s because part of being on the tenure track is taking Research Leave to work on projects and ideas I have that can be published and presented on. I’ll have 7 years until I’m eligible for consideration for tenure.
My current interests are manifold. I want to tie in my love of metal music to librarianship and so starting a special collection has always been a back burner idea. Moreover, the physical and artful nature of zines and programming is another interest I’ve had ever since volunteering at my very first Zinefest in 2016. I’m a comic-book and graphic novel lover, so liking zines is probably no surprise.
I’m also interested in gaming and literacy and how that might work in library instruction This pulls me back full circle to a project I presented back in my library school days on MMOG’s and instruction. I was completely influenced by Constance Steinkuehler. You’ll love her work!
And lastly, let’s not forget a new love of mine that came about because of my thesis work – Women’s Studies. When asked if I’d pursue a PHD, this was the only subject that I thought would ever bring me back to school. As you can tell, for now, I’m tired out. My plan is to see how my current tenure track position works out. If it looks like an opportunity presents itself (i.e.- an affordable part time PHD program) then I’ll reconsider, but for now, I’m pretty happy to just be writing and talking at conferences.