Teaching vs. Research

As a scholar working on Remixing Rural Texas, I have given up or forgone a year of vital teaching experience that my graduate program offers. At TAMUC, graduate assistants in the Literature & Languages Department are given the opportunity to teach first year writing. This experience is critical when we complete the program and hit the job market (which is very tough right now). When Dr. Carter offered me this position almost a year ago, I was, admittedly, very concerned about missing out on a year of teaching. However, nearly a year into this project, I feel like I have learned more about my profession, education, New Media, research and grant writing than I ever could have if I had just spent the past year teaching.

What is occurring for me because of my involvement in RRT is that I am learning how to be a scholar as well as a teacher. One project that I began this year is an exhibition titled Women and Power: How Women Have Changed the World. I am in the process of applying for a grant through Texas Humanities. Dr. Robin Reid is supporting me in this effort and Dr. Shannon Carter, through CLiC, is my PI.

Women and Power looks at women throughout history and including modern women who are activists that have made a stand against social injustice to succeed in effecting positive change for their families, communities and nation(s). We will begin in the archives and draw on scholarship from within our own department as a means of beginning at the local level. We expand outwards into the larger nation to take a look at women across the country and eventually take our research to a global level. Part of the exhibition includes collecting oral histories from as many women as possible that will become part of a larger database of oral histories located in the archives of the Gee Library.

Part of my inspiration for this project was an independent study led by Dr. Carter last summer where I studied New Media and Critical Race Theory. In looking at the history of African Americans, I realized that there is a world of information about African American women as well as women of all race, nationalities and class that has not been counted or documented. One of my concerns is that modern media has created a constructed view of women, femininity, class and power that is completely false. My goal is to document and record Real Women who are living out loud and going against the grain of these socially constructed “norms” that only exist within the media.

If we were to move forward to 100 years into the future, how would our future selves view women today? What sources would they have beyond what is on TV, film, novels, radio? What would they think of us if all they knew was “Basketball Wives”, “Real Housewives of NYC”, “The View” or any number of television shows that only represent a small fraction of women and only women of a specific socio-economic class? I believe that it is important to create a new discourse about women and how they use power.

Part of my inspiration in the documentation of powerful women is the work of Studs Terkel. His work stands as a powerful resource for future historians and scholars as well as educators and students to study and understand the true narrative of our nation. Using his oral history methodology and resources, I hope to create as powerful a discourse on feminine power as Studs has for African Americans, War Veterans and the average American.

Jennifer Jones