Sitting down to begin work on a draft of my prospectus, I got curious about digital tools that might reveal something about the development of my dissertation thinking. Wordle comes to mind. Let me explain. Students in our Ph.D. program (U of Louisville) begin the process by proposing an exam on their specific research area (see mine). Then we take an exam on that research area. But there can be several weeks, even months of lag time between proposing the exam and actually taking it. Things can change. Although I don’t suspect that my thinking has changed significantly, I’m still curious. So I wordled (it’s now a verb, okay?) both my proposal and my exam. Here are the results:
My research area proposal, wordled:
And my reasearch area exam answers:
Here’s something I hadn’t expected. “Cultural” (most often paired with “materialism” in my project) shrinks considerably from one wordle to the next. So does “composition”; actually, I think it seems to disappear completely. And “writing” emerges out of nowhere in the second wordle. So what does all of this mean? I’m not sure, but my first impression is that I’m managing to stay focused on literacy and technology, but possibly losing sight of the cultural materialist approach I’m hoping to explore as I fashion my methodology for this project. I guess that means more reading on Williams and Haas.
Mostly, though, I just wanted to see if this approach might teach me something about my own writing. It has.