74. 🅿️ the parking lot 🅿️
thinking about new readings and new courses
Hello, and happy Monday.
It is so wild to think that we are already in our last month of 2021. There are a number of things I love to do in December to mark this time, including but not limited to: baking cinnamon rolls, drinking lots of tea with honey, reading a book in one sitting, and reflecting on the year with Susannah Conway's Unravel Your Year workbook. When I got her email this past week with the link to the prompts, I was so excited to carve out a time later this month to just be with myself and think about what I did this year and what I want to do in the next.
There's still a few more weeks of this year, though, that I want to fill with time in the archives and working through my ideas. (Hopefully I'll have more on the archives for you in an update next week!)
✏️ Still processing.
I am currently at work on an article that's based on one of my book chapters (which is based on one of my dissertation chapters). Part of this work involves diving back into the research I did a few years back—re-reading the archival boxes I scanned into my computer, re-visiting my notes, doing some x-rays of my previous writing. I also managed to find some new pieces of evidence that I hadn't yet considered or found space for in my initial writings.
It was through this process of re-view and re-evaluation that I realized how much these ideas had been marinating since I had first written my dissertation. When I was first writing, I didn't really know where my thoughts were going to go, or how all my chapters would connect together.
Now, I see my dissertation as a first draft. With that knowledge, I have a sense of how the history shakes out, and what I'm ultimately trying to argue in my work. Having a sense of the whole picture now colors the things I consume—from the books I write about in "Still Reading" to the document scans that are in my folders. It feels like with each pass through my evidence, I'm coming upon a new insight that I haven't yet thought about. Sometimes it's an entirely new perspective that I want to incorporate in my chapter, and other times, it's an idea about an opening vignette for an entirely different part of the book. Although I'm re-evaluating the evidence for an article that's meant to have a narrow argument and be succinct in its explanation, I can't help but also think about the book and all the ways this one document could contribute to the story I'm trying to tell. My brain is off and running.
These moments became so frequent that I realized it was distracting me from the task at hand—writing an article. But, I still wanted to remember all these connections when I sat back down to revise my book. Through processing this conundrum in my journal, I realized that I needed two other word docs open on my computer:
"Chapter vs. article": This is where I put all my ideas for how this article is going to be different from the chapter. I've frequently been given the advice that I should publish no more than 20% of my book in the form of articles. This document is meant to help me distinguish how my chapter will treat the subject matter differently than the article. Whenever I read a piece of evidence that makes me excited but is not within the constraints of the article's argument, I put it here.
"For the book": This is where I put all my ideas for the book writ large. This document is divided into sections: one for each chapter and one general section. This is where I list any and all ideas for structuring my chapters and their narratives, pieces of evidence that I think would fit well in another chapter, questions that I still need to figure out, and items to look further into, among other points.
I've found that so much for writing so far has been just trying to get my thoughts down in a way that I can access later. Because the project is so big, it's difficult to keep track of all the thoughts and insights I may have. By creating a designated space in a separate doc—what I like to call my "parking lot—I'm able to get down whatever it is I am thinking and have the peace of mind that I know exactly where it will be when I need it again.
📚 Still reading.
This week I started preparing for the course I'll be teaching in the Spring! I decided to design a new course called "Meeting Asian/Arab American Studies," named after the article by Sunaina Maira and Magid Shihade. Here's the description of the course for those interested in hearing about how I'm conceptualizing it:
In this course, we will explore, expand, and question the disciplinary boundaries between Asian American and Arab American Studies. Grounded in converging critiques of US empire, we will ask: what are the possibilities and limitations of linking these two fields in shared struggle and solidarity? What can each field give to and take from the other, and how are they already intersecting? The course is organized around major topics in Asian American and Arab American studies—such as questions of the refugee, war & violence, incarceration, and labor—as a way of uncovering the overlapping nature of these two sub-fields within the interdisciplinary field of Ethnic Studies.
With this new plan comes new readings. I've decided to primarily draw from standalone chapters in edited volumes on Asian American Studies and Arab & Muslim American Studies. I wanted to share with you all some of the books that I'm thinking about assigning chapters from. I hope that you'll find a chapter or two in these volumes that interest you and read further!
For Asian American Studies:
Think about this book as a sort of dictionary or encyclopedia (you can even find the whole set of words here). The "keywords" chosen for the book are particularly relevant to the study of Asian American Studies, and are written by important scholars in the field whose work engages with that term. This is one of my favorite texts to assign courses because it offers a great jumping off point to learn about the keyword, what it signifies, and its importance in the field.
Published about 12 years ago, this volume is a solid introduction to the field of Asian American Studies, as well as its contemporary debates and topics. Chapters are divided into sections that take on quesitons of the history of the discipline, collective memory, literature & ethnography, and future trajectories of the field.
Similar to Asian American Studies Now, this volume is meant to give a sense of the larger field of Asian American Studies. I particularly love the breadth of this volume—there are chapters written by interdisciplinary scholars, historians, cultural studies scholars, sociologists, and anthropologists, among other specialties, and touch on important issues of racial formation, representation, family, gender & sexuality, borders, and labor. I particularly love assigning Glenn Omatsu's "The 'Four Prisons' and the Movements of Liberation: Asian American Activism from the 1960s to the 1990s" because students respond so dynamically to the trajectory of Asian Ameircan struggle.
For Arab & Muslim American Studies:
So many of the chapters in this edited volume get to the heart of why and how Arab American Studies contirbutes to the field of Ethnic Studies. While studies of pre- and post- 9/11 dynamics are the main organizers of the volume, it also moves beyond this periodization to consider the longer hisotry of Arab migration to and identity formation in the United States. The introduction alone is a powerhouse of an essay, and gets to the heart this field and its significance. I typically assign the introduction as a standalone piece in order for students to get a clear sense of the field, its stakes, and its preoccupations.
This book is newer to me—I've never assigned anything from it previously. Even with a quick look, though, it's clear how much intention and thought was put into the lineup of scholars in this book, as well as the topics discussed. It moves beyond the confines of the Arab world as well, to consider how the larger communities of Southwest Asia/North Africa are implicated in the politics of war, militarization, and globalization. The volume also includes writing on Palestine, which is critical to include in any volume about this field.
Of course, there are so many more amazing edited volumes out there. If you teach in either of these fields, I'm wondering what texts you assign in your courses. Let me know in the comments or by replying directly to this email!
🌀 Still consuming.
Olivia Rodrigo singing drivers license at the DMV. What more could you want?
From Austin Kleon, 3 thoughts on a decade of publishing books
📖 Book club corner.
Book club will be taking the month of December off. See you all in January 2022! 🥰
If you'd like to learn more about the tiny driver book club, click here!
🐶 A pup-date.
As an early Christmas present, Girlie got a set of holiday pajamas in the mail. Here she is looking very attentive for the camera:
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!