Category Archives: Academic Blogging

A Graduate School Supply List

It’s back-to-school time, my favorite time of year! And, with this time of year comes lots of advice and talk regarding everything from how to make the most of your education to where shop for school supplies. Recently, a number of posts and advertisements have come across my screen related to school supplies. There have even been hashtags for Twitter and Instagram for “school supply porn” and Tumblr and Pinterest have pages and boards dedicated to school supplies and educational aesthetics and workspaces year round. Some of our favorites include Tumblr’s #studyblr and #pencilporn.

In lieu of this, the GA’s (the amazing Tristen Kade and incredible Izzy Notter) and I decided to offer our contribution with a Graduate School Supply List. Of course, each person is different and should feel free to edit or add to this list as they feel necessary. It is not an exhaustive list by any means. However, we would strongly encourage you to give extra consideration to anything on our list that causes the following reactions: any lol-ing, “wtf”s, or “what is that?”

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.15.56 PM

Other suggested supplies for added luxury include:

  • StarbucksCard$500 Starbucks card
  • 25$ I-tunes gift card Spotify app and yearly subscription
  • Laptop keyboard cover
  • Costco “Gold Star” Membership
  • Artisanal Pencil Sharpening Plan
  • Vintage Coffee Mug
  • Meditative Coloring Book
  • Knitwear Beanie, sweaters, and fingerless gloves-to-mittens

On a tad more serious note, what is it about school supplies that people love even as we age? Perhaps, there is an over-representation of people who like school, or the culture of learning, that like the aesthetics of supplies. On more practical points, school supplies are necessary for our work. We need resources to educate, and to learn. Further our resources–the amount and type–play a significant role in the amount of energy and potential we are capable of achieving—from types of questions we can answer to our own personal health.

School supplies also make us feel productive and possibly a little in control. Just having them all laid out as a ritual to begin our work gets the productivity wheel rolling and makes it a little harder to walk away. Purchasing supplies at the beginning of the year (and throughout) allows us to feel that we have accomplished at least one task that day, and it was not all that unpleasant—ideally. In fact, we were likely to be excited about the task and are now off to a good start. We may even be more excited after the task feeling ready to take on the world.

Lastly, supplies may have a latent function as cultural markers for us to display and recognize allowing us to feel part of a greater community that is typically quite individualistic and involves a great deal of solitude. In any case, for academics supplies are essential and can be fun. And who doesn’t need a little fun in our high stress atmosphere?

Blogging in Review


So this past year, I did very little blogging…that is until the end of the year. It was a huge work year for me and I did work to stay true to my resolutions for 2014. These included more family time and being kinder to myself,  doing a pull-up, head stands in yoga, and learning to play “Timber” on the harmonica. While I feel completely short on learning to play “Timber.” I did at one point master the headstand–then quitting yoga and my pull-up is sooooo close–it will surely be mastered this year).  I think I was overall more kind to myself and definitely worked less hours.  I probably shouldn’t own up to that but I think it is important to distinguish working less hours and by learning to become more efficient–to which I think I did.

Balancing family-work-self is no small task.  I did however get more comfortable with writing in shorter lengths of time–my typical 3-4 hours sessions reduced to 2 hours or less. However, my “start-up” time is still about 20-30 minutes.  This is the amount of time it takes me to get in the mind set to write and includes my morning writing ritual. I suppose I could cut this in half, however I clearly do not want to and consider this a part of my “me time.”

Two things had to give this year for me to stay true to my family-work-self goals. The first is my running decreased immensely. In 2013, I ran weekly if not more often, this past year I dropped to monthly. Also, my 2012 goal to blog more fell away. I just didn’t have the time in balancing my other obligations. In thinking about 2013 and this year, I feel like I did pretty good and made good decisions for myself and my family. I can deal with running less and regarding the blogging, the real goal was to put my self out there more.

toblogSo while I did in fact blog less, I do feel I still put myself out there. In fact, very little blogging occurred on this site and took place in other venues. To catch everyone up, here is a quick review of my blogs from this year that did not take place here. I believe they offer sociological substance and ideally quality over quantity.


LumberDPower, Pomp, and Plaid: Lumbersexuals and White Heteromasculine Pageantry   with Tristan Bridges

Professional Football: A Queer/Masculine Paradox

Sociological Images Christmas Film Review: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

What I learned this year about blogging, is that I prefer to sociologically blog for more established sites more than on my own site. As such, it is very likely this blog will become more about my various other interests primarily regarding academia, productivity, my own research, along with my own adventures with blogging and social media.

Lastly, I am particularly grateful to Tristan Bridges, Lisa Wade, and CJ Pascoe in supporting, guiding, and stimulating my interests in public sociology.




It’s OK to Slack on Blogging



Blogging is not very impactful toward making tenure…thus I occasionally slack on it.

and, that’s ok.

How I Used Twitter and Ended Up Learning to Write

With Kate Drabinski

We write all the time. We’re academics, so it’s sort of our job. And then there’s twitter. Why bother tweeting? It isn’t real writing, and it will never make it in our tenure or promotion files, so isn’t it a waste of time? Not at all, we say, and here’s why.

1. Twitter keeps us thinking and learning. Real time online conversations keep us moving and going and thinking and seeing others being productive. It is a place where academics can feed for ideas and spurs our micro-creativity. Compared to the traditional academic timeline in which feedback and interests can be months or even years—let’s be honest, Twitter real time conversations enables real time feedback. This feedback and interest in what we, and others, are thinking about inspires our writing.

2. Twitter keeps our offline writing projects moving. Because of those real-time conversations, we stay motivated to keep writing and thinking when we log off. It can also help us to make decisions we might otherwise stew over. Twitter keeps us productive and can jolt us out of those negative phases when we get blocked or discouraged. Sometimes it just takes a single tweet to help get out of bed. Also, a response or favorite from a follower can help us to not feel so alone when we are discouraged or moving slower—to recognize it all as part of the process.  “@drcompton @kdrabinski I feel this!”

3. Twitter forces us to think about audience, something academics are notoriously bad at doing well. We both tweet to multiple audiences–academics, sure, but also activists, students, personal friends, family members, Ashley Judd, Dr. Ruth, fellow bicyclists in the case of @kdrabinski, and fellow sneaker enthusiasts in the case of @drcompton. Tweets go out to all these followers, and part of tweeting well is remembering this and writing in clear ways that will resonate with these different audiences at different times, but never with everyone at all times. These are important skills to remember as we write offline for similarly diverse audiences, and twitter makes us practice on a daily basis.

4. That tiny character count makes us be precise in our writing, another thing academics are notoriously bad at. We’ll leave it at that, for precision’s sake.

5. Being precise means revising, deleting, rewriting, and revising again, the very most important parts of writing well, and the parts too often left for later until forgotten altogether. 140 characters isn’t a lot, and rarely is our thought fully formed the first time we try to force it into that tiny space. We must focus, focus, focus—focusing on what is really necessary and important. We find ourselves deleting, trying again, figuring out what can be saved for another tweet, and what our central point really is. Twitter forces us to revise on the spot, and real skills are developed that translate to our offline writing. After all, a first draft is simply writing to the starting line. The real work is in the revision, and twitter won’t let us forget that.


Professor Stereotypes and Fingernails on the Chalkboard

I have always found stereotypes about professors humorous on a good day-especially within movies and the media.  So much so, in fact, that I have even embraced some of them just for fun. Yes, I do love to wear sweater vests. I wish I did own or have a need for a corduroy jacket with elbow patches. Oh, and tweed. I wish I could justify any purchase of tweed.  Sadly, I live in a hot place and most of the time a shirt with a collar and dark denim with dress shoes or chuck taylors becomes my professional attire. I will however, be requesting a leather shoulder bag from Santa this year…or buying one as my reward for tenure. My other stereotype I would strive to fit, if I were able to ever afford it, would be to live in a Frank Llyod Wrightesque home with amazing landscaping. I mean who wouldn’t–and of course it would be located on a quaint little street that is just close enough to my campus for me to stroll or bike to work and town, but also far enough from away so that I have extreme privacy for my concentration.

There are also stereotypes I hate. A couple I will not even mention as to not perpetuate them. One biggie that is talked about quite a bit in the media and to my face is how little we work. It is assumed that we work only a few hours a week, make big bucks, and have a cushy life where we just sit at coffee shops all day engaging in various intellectual debates about impractical topics with fellow elite colleagues, coffee shoppers, and if lucky students–which by the way can be very productive in that it stimulates us to think, learn more about what we know and don’t know, and may motivate us to act. All of which leads to new ideas for teaching and research interests and goals. There is also the absent-minded professor stereotype, one of the most common, and also potentially true for me at times. It is still annoying that the assumptions begins with something I would associate as carelessness.  Okay, so I do get so obsessed with my research and the fact that I should be writing whenever I am not, that I do run into objects.  However, I have never fallen into a well or been in a bone-breaking accident. I do usually remember my work and personal commitments and I do keep up on my hygiene. Further, I do like to think that I think of others…or at least their research projects.  If I appear to be resilient to feelings, this is really in large part because I care so much. Sometimes too much for my own health. So, the notion that I only care about MY research and pay little attention to anything else–my students, family, etc. becomes extremely offensive.

This long lead up regarding general professor stereotypes is actually developed out of a recent article I read about how “Pop Culture has Turned Against the Liberal Arts.”  The article largely focuses on the students and stereotypes of liberal arts majors  and I think it’s dead-on.  While I have noticed a great deal more of bias against liberal arts in the past few years, I just assumed it was because I was in the thick of it. I also assume that during economic hard times, liberal arts is often taken for granted. However, the above article re-reminded me of the greater culture students are living.

Thinking back 15 years ago to when I was a wee undergrad, it was mentally harder for me to come-out as wanting to be a liberal arts major to my family, than to come out about my sexual orientation. Also, it seems to be common knowledge among my undergrads and even graduate students that, “it’s ok to major in Liberal Arts if you are going to go on to law school” otherwise you will probably be poor and end-up working for minimum wage. (Side note: law school really seems to be the big fad right now and while I do have some suspicion as to why, my own friends experiences in and with law school coupled with  articles like this really scare me as student after student come into my office inform this is their back-up plan if they can not get a job out of their BA/BS).

The claim to fame most widely boasted for a liberal arts major is that it creates and contributes to skills of critical thinking and analysis–skills that can be applied across settings and time. Yet, at the same time coursework is often conceptualized as less serious, or even worse “easy.” I also think the narrative is quite problematic…in part because there is not one.  My students largely site their parents and family as leading concerns with being a liberal arts major. In fact, I would be as bold to state that most majors at some point in time have been asked “what are you going to do with that?” I know my own family and personal friends outside of academia recognize that I am a professor…but as far as what I really do…  well it just all goes rt back into that big pot of stereotypes.  I will continue this idea in my next blog perhaps titled something like “What I do and Why Liberal Arts Rocks!”


A million miles a minute…

This week I guest lectured in a colleague’s marriage and family course.  Assigned with the task of “discussing gay and lesbian families,” I wanted to cover gay/lgbt/queer families, issues of access to resources, social tolerance, methodologies, and of course you have to discuss the health and well-being of the children.  However, I only had on hour to build a rapport, to cover the foundational issues–why families are important social institutions, lgbt/queer terminologies, defining lgbt/queer families, and then get into the more substantive issues I wanted to cover. While I think I gave them some good information, especially foundational, I know I didn’t get to cover the things I most wanted to discuss like the ins and outs of the same-sex marriage debate, “families of choice,” heteronormativity, and more. Most of all, I think I left most unsettled because I failed to leave time for questions. My options were to speak a million miles a minute or trim…

Guest lecturing is a tricky thing. In many ways, it makes me think of job interviews except less formal.  Over the weekend, I worked on my lecture and spent a good deal of time thinking about what I wanted to wear. (Dress really affects my confidence in the classroom–and for a one time meeting/talk it is paramount that I feel good about what I’m wearing. I am not talking so much from a style point of view, rather a practical point of view in which I do need to look different from students, but more importantly I need to not be worried about if my zipper is down, tripping over chords–I’m a klutz–and how my shirt is hanging/tucked).

When guest lecturing, I always plan to have too much rather than too little to talk about. In fact, normally in this sort of situation I would have set up 2 half hour lectures. This way you can roll with the mood of the class and various levels of talkativeness. You can also taylor to their interests.

This past Monday, I forgot almost all these “tricks.”  To be honest, I think I was just eager to please and couldn’t wait to have some more in class interaction. It really kills me that we didnt get to have the Q&A at the end. I will never make that mistake again, even if it means setting the timer on my phone.

Too Much Fun?

Is it possible to have too much fun in or with a class?  I found myself thinking a little about this question over the past year.  I am extremely lucky to be in a department where they want me to teach courses I love to teach and it seems that lately I have had more and more students with similar interests as mine–all of which has really lead to a fun and thriving work environment. I do feel I am being productive as are the students, however, I cant help but to occasionally wonder are we having too much fun?  Of course, everyone enjoys occasional laughter in class but could there be too much? The idea of laughter seems to in many ways juxtapose the ideas of professionalism and seriousness associated with a stereotypically conducive learning environment. As a professor who looks young and wants to be taken seriously, I often worry about what laughter in class means, especially at the end of the day.  However, laughter can also be extremely useful.

As a student, laughter (or should I say jokes and fun stories that led to laughter) always helped me to remember lectures and concepts, and remain engaged throughout the duration of the class and the semester. In fact, my favorite courses, and often the courses I got the most from generally also included a quick-witted professor or a hillarious study group where we all had the same end goal of doing well in the class. I have not doubts that overall laughter largely contributed to my learning.

In my classroom it seems that laughter largely derives from a number of different places.  One place is a place of nervousness. Sometimes, I or the students will share humorous examples or stories to break tension. These moments are generally very short lived and can be quite awkward but they can really open the door to a greater discussion on the particular topic at hand. Even the idea that we are nervous about publicly discussing said topic can lay a foundation for the discussion or future discussions.  This is especially the case in my more controversial courses of methods, social statistics, and sexuality studies.  However, I also see a great deal of laughter from academic jokes and comments where students are relating or apply material in clever ways.  I greatly enjoy these moments when you can see the synthesis of material and the personality of the student.  I also really appreciate the bad jokes…the ones that don’t quite make it but were a valiant effort.  These moments say to me the students are engaged, trying, and comfortable in the environment.  I have done my job to set up the parameters of a safe and practical learning space.

Laughter effects my research too. Over the course of this summer I have spent a number of Wednesday nights at a colleague’s house taking part in a reading group on female masculinity. This past Wednesday was especially filled with laughter. I almost want to say we were down right giggly, however, that feels like a word that shouldn’t be positively associated with academic pedagogy. But why is that? I am certain that this group has contributed to a continued education for me, in addition to boosting my summer work morale and bonds with my colleague and student. The group has contributed to me reading and re-reading pages and articles I would probably in all honesty put-off until “I needed to.” I have thought about various passages and readings in ways that would apply to the group’s interests rather than just to my own. Further, it has been an amazing amount of fun having a free space in which to just think and talk about issues from the readings (and our lives–work and otherwise) at our leisure.  While I do have some direction with regards to what I want to get from the overall experience of a reading group, it is also nice to just read and allow your mind to be free from that tight task-orientated focus that it often acquires when you are working specifically to address a single question or issue.  On the whole, I think the group has spurred more questions, inspiration, and motivation for everyone involved.  I also think the laughter has largely contributed to the continuation of the group and its productivity.  So, in the words of a Daryle Singletary song:

“Too much fun? whats that mean?
Its like too much money theres no such thing
Its like [too much coffee] or too much class
Being too lucky or a car too fast
No matter what they say I’ve done
I aint never had to much fun”


Legal Recognition of Gay Families Could Improve Outcome for Children

Today the Houston Chronicle published my first op-ed.  Co-authored with Amanda Baumle, we wanted to speak to what I think is fast becoming an infamous article that was claiming to find difference between parents who have had same-sex relationships and those who have not. The article’s findings insinuated that parents who had had a same-sex relationship were less good compared to those that hadn’t.  This sparked a heated academic debate on the blogosphere and among my academic colleagues in large part due to its questionable methods and polar opposite findings from what the greater discipline at large has found in the past or would expect to be find–that based on sexual orientation LGBT/Queer parents do not significantly differ all that much form their heterosexual counterparts.

And to think that I almost didn’t write anything at all! I thought I was late to the party.  Most of my concerns with the article were being addressed, but then this article and its findings became sensational news and made it to the lay audience. I have been told, though I did not witness it first hand, that it was covered on various news channels in TX and picked up by the View and other national media sources. At this point, I really wanted to speak to the issue, especially within my home state where friends, family, colleagues, and the queer community has been so supportive of me and my work. Furthermore, the research partner and I knew we had something extra to contribute with our current work that qualitatively addresses structural constraints, especially as related to the law, on lgbt families.

I do not want to re-hash the article or its merits/lack of merits here…as I feel most of my concerns have been addressed. As such, I thought I would just link to our commentaries and my favorite commentaries from others for y’all to check out.

From my keyboard, you can check out the op-ed (linked above) and my co-authored post on Social (In)queery:  How Not to Study Families.

From others, I really like this piece from the Atlantic along with two posts from Philip N. Cohen’s Family Inequality blogBad Science on top of Stigma for lesbian and gay parents and Time Travel: Regnerus study timeline suggests superhuman abilities. These pieces really outline the overall story surrounding the article, my academic and methodological concerns, along with the structural issues at hand–sociologically and politically.

It has also been covered in the following:  The Washington Times (where I first heard about it), the New York Times, and Slate has a whole series of articles on the topics beginning here including responses from Regnerus.

J’aime l’été

I know it has been a while since I last posted for which I wont apologize. The last three months were filled with quite a bit of travel, lots of bureaucratic work, more bureaucratic work, and preparations for my summer research agenda. I have also signed on to a new venture in which I will be a contributor to the Social (In)Queery blog.  My first post for them is now up. It is partial movie review and partial tomboy review. Check out  J’adore les Tomboys! here. I expect to have many more posts and conversations on tomboys and female masculinities this summer, along with issues of queer spaces. Not only do I have a couple students who are extremely interested in such things, but their interests are dovetailing quite nicely into my own interests in addition to a couple other colleagues’ interests. I love to collaborate–assuming it is a true collaboration.  As such, we have started a couple reading groups and have plans to bust out some papers over the course of this next year.  I am eager to share some of my thoughts and our discussions on this blog.

Coming off of what I call “conference season” and the end of the semester push, Summer is a very exciting time for me as a researcher.  Something about it always makes it seem like the possibilities and opportunities are endless and I just might have the time to explore every idea that comes through my mind.  I know that is not actually the case…but now with blogging, tweeting, social networks, and online communities…I can at least enjoy in the many discussions surrounding my academic and nonacademic areas of interest. All of which enhance my micro-creativity and academic output. #justintimefortenure