This blog will comprise a collection of ephemera, mess and miscellaneous artifacts reflecting on the writer's life.

Friday, March 31, 2006


for San Francisco is hard.
City B has asked about clothes which will not crease and this ofcourse is a major concern. ALso what will the weather be like?
So here, at City B's request, is a selection of possible outfits.
The blue bustle skirt is unavailable as it is at the dry cleaners but meanwhile here is:
1. The black bustle skirt. The original Emily Bronte Yorkshire look this is a wardrobe staple, however, it might be too heavy for the West Coast.

2. I bought this shirt especially for the conference but I not sure what I will wear with it. Advice please.

3. I bought this skirt with Dr Joolz. It is a bit skimpy but very nice.

4. This pink top is pretty. What does it go with?

It is like playing Paperdoll heaven but for real.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Outfit grids

Originally uploaded by limonada.

are my answer to my conference trauma.
They were invented by me and Dr Joolz as a form of quality control in order to ensure the students had continuity of outfit and reliably good dress co-odination on this marvellous course.
(Actually this course will only run from this October but I am giving it a plug because it is so so good).
The grid went like this:
Dr Joolz
nice green cardi
Very nice skirt
matching green
necklace and earrings

nice red cardi
Hobbs red skirt
crystal thingy

amazingly nice Karen Millen cardi
astonishingly nice new skirt
bright pink jewellery

You get the idea?
I have not done me as I am never as good as Dr J.

So my idea with my conference horror is to do the same thing.
Rather than look this horrible programme, I will paste over BLANK sheets of paper and in the spaces put what I intend to wear.

Then I don't even need to READ it.
So Thursday the 6th April will read:
White shirt with frills plus blue bustle skirt.

The afternoon session will read:
Same plus cardi

Dress which is on my blog with 1960's swirly top bit.
My conference horror is over.
I can also play dress up. Here and here are some sites where you can do it too.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I have forgotten

how much I hate conferences.
Vic reminded me this morning.
I hate them for these reasons:
1. The Wrong Choice. I am always the one listening to the graduate student talk about her innermost experiences of fieldwork.
Brian meanwhile goes to hear Deborah Brandt and Katie Clinton and we talk about their paper for the next two years.
2. Lack of focus. I was the person who missed Jean Lave at this conference because I decided to go to bed early.
Another ground-breaking experienced missed. (Brian was there).
As Jennifer and I sat down to hear Luis Moll and Elizabeth Moje we suddenly decided to buy tights and missed the whole session.
3. My networking skills are crap.
I am always the person who fails to recognise who people are so I end up spending the whole conference with someone from Lancaster, England, rather than Lancaster, Philadelphia and gossiping madly rather than exchanging cards seriously.
When a big East coast Professor does say hello I shriek and tell them inappropriately about my tights disaster and then disappear giggling with my new best friend (the graduate student whose fieldwork experiences were so compelling and has followed me around limpet-like ever since).
4. The crap session is always mine. Only 3 people go and 2 are my best friends (one is the new bf) and the other person immediately wishes they had gone to James Gee who is on next door.
30 copies of my paper go in the bin.
5. Clothes. At conferences I suddenly realise that only the New Yorkers look any good (they wear gray pencil skirts and look fabulous).
Everyone else looks terrible especially me, as my Yorkshire retro-feminist Emily Bronte bustle skirt and brogues look doesn't have any impact on the West Coast and is too hot for California.
Also my jet lag plus pale lipstick makes me look washed out.
The whole experience is like the seventh circle of hell, walking around with horrible badges, clutching the conference programme which I failed to read, and then, when I finally do go to James Paul Gee at 8 in the morning on the last day I fall asleep.
On the flight back home I lose all the cards people gave me plus the hotel receipt so I cannot even claim back the money I spent.
When I get back,my account is overdrawn and my family has forgotten I exist.
San Francisco anyone?

Monday, March 27, 2006

On the platform

On the platform
Originally uploaded by tetsu_awazo.

For some time now my daughter has been telling me about this site.
She is right.
It is truly wonderful.
Go and see.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


is everything.
See here.
My paper is emerging as being about how children's identites as realised in their multimodal texts are embedded within the specifics of place.
However, their texts are also also about the in-between spaces, movement and crossings.
structure 2
Pia Christiansen writes in this book how
...children interwove their personal biography and social relationships with the exploration, use and mastering of place. They saw generational relationships and conflicts as played out in part through the differentiation of places according to their use by different generations.
(Christiansen 2003:15).

She argues drawing on Geertz who said that 'No one lives in the world in general' and Casey, that
To live is to live locally and to know is first of all to know the places one is in.
(Casey 1996:18).

By focusing on the relationship between identity and place, I can tease how out the children's anchored identities reside in the local in the specifics of place (My home, my school, my Barnsley) but also in transient concepts of spatiality (Scarecrow Tig).
You see I am getting there.
Do you like the pictures?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

pebbles on a beach

Trying to write my paper is hard.
Today I have seen one student, been on one dog walk with one friend, went to lunch with another, read the paper, watered the plants
and also sent keen emails to people unnecessarily
all because I am blocked about writing my paper for AERA.
One of the problems in the lens.

I could look at my data close up and describe it through my fingers like this.

Or far away and misty like this with lots of wonderful over arching theoretical ideas to make everyone sit up and notice.

Or with a rich thick description with lots of textual stuff like this.

Ideally I would have all of this and more, with a final closing epiphany at the end.
I am ever hopeful.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I once gave a talk for this lot on pet-keeping as a social practice and literacy practices in the home.
This was because I found that when I went into homes, and did ethnography, pets were highly salient.
People wrote about their pets and talked about them and they were embedded in their literacy practices.
People had pet spiders, budgies, dogs, frogs (they mummifed these sometimes) chickens (they chased those) and fish.
I even had a fish named after me, which pleased me very much.
But with this project, all I hear about from the children are rabbits.
I am typing up loads of rabbit data at the moment.
Often they die, which is sad.
The the sawdust goes off to someone else.
people take photos of their rabbits and put them on their books and also they use their experience of pet keeping to inform their work.
The best one is someone whose cousin kept two pet cobras in a cage.
He used that to inform his very good clay image of a cobra.
Pet keeping is a very useful activity and now I must RUSH and feed our fish.

This is Popcorn the hamster.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Curly slide

Curly slide
Originally uploaded by Danton pix.

I love this photo of a playground slide.
Go on the 'playgrounds' Tag in Flickr and the world expands wonderfully.
Today I am thinking about playgrounds, what you do in them and also why school playgrounds are not the same as ones in communities and parks, and why not, also are backyards for play and what do they have in them.
Anyone for Scarecrow Tig?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Anchored and transient identities

In order to get myself thinking for my AERA paper I am doing some reading.
Jackie suggested reading Guy's article called Electric Involvement: Identity performance in children's informal writing which you can find here.

What is useful about this is that he distinguishes between what he calls "anchored identity", and "transient identity" which is a way of distinguishing between two different positions, those:

which are profoundly influenced by a long history of socio-cultural practices (such as gender or religion) and those which are more easily make, remade and unmade (such as fandom).
(Merchant 2005: 304.)

This helps me make sense of my data.

My focus is on home/school crossings as instantiated within multimodal texts in the context of this project.

But I have to find a way of looking at identities which are more anchored in home spaces such as being the child of a builder, and therefore being interested in the plans of houses, or always going to the same campsite with a roller coaster every summer, and identities which are about more transient forms of play such as Scarecrow Tig, Barbie, Power Rangers.

These then are realised in children's multimodal texts.

I am also reading Jackie Marsh on third space.
She says that,
The concept of third space is not without its limitations. The worlds of educaitonal institutions and homes/communities cannot be seen as two entirely distinct and separate domains, there is seepage btween them. In addition, children's social and cultural worlds are constructed of numerous domains and discourses that overlap in complex ways.

She thinks that third space theory is very modernist and we should be more post modern, looking at children's text making as fluid, transitory, but anchored within these cultural specific identities as well as more ephememeral ones.

This makes sense, as I watched children both engage with specific cultural worlds (plans of their homes) alongside more transitory moments of playing a particular game (Scarecrow Tig) and then watched these sediment into text making.
Hide and Seek is very strong within my data.
Is this child hiding?
From what?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
Thenne longen folk to goon to conferences...

(apologies to Chaucer and David Lodge)

Yes its conference time again.
There are so many to go to.

Firstly there is AERA in San Francisco and yes, I will be there.
There is a great Material Culture conference in London in May.
I am keen to go to Leeds in June for the narrratives of migration symposium.
Then there is UKLA which this year is in Nottingham, and BERA, which is in Warwick this year, not mention BAAL over in Ireland but clashing with BERA.
Then Winter sets in, but even then we are busy, as there is a great Domesticity conference in Sheffield I have just sent an abstract in to.

You might think that academics' lives are nothing but glamorous foreign travel, in which case you might have a point, but there must also be a serious and important reason for attending all these events, leaving one's children and living a life of total lack of domesticity and intense intellectual stimulation.

I would love to know it and then I can explain it to my family.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I am more excited than I can say

about the seminar I am organising which is tomorrow.
It is on creativity and learning in the context of social regeneration and is here at Sheffield.
Like Anya's seminar series, it is a great line-up.
It is funded by Creative Partnerships and will star the following amazing people:
Pippa Stein from South Africa
Hilary Janks also from South Africa
Barbara Comber from Australia
they have all FLOWN OVER to be at the seminar.
Then we have my wonderful teachers from this project, and Myra Barrs and Cathy Nutbrown on their Creative Partnerships Projects.
Then there is the panel.
Jackie Marsh, Dr Joolz, (back from Plymouth) Gunther Kress and Jennifer.
We are also going to be launching our book Travel Notes from the New Literacy Studies (more nomadic stuff) at the event.

I can't wait.

Monday, March 13, 2006

desirable objects

Over here they are asking people to choose the most desirable objects in the Doncaster Museum.
It is always good to CHOOSE things and ofcourse I want to choose mine but my pictures are all of Rotherham (my current obsessive research space) so this is mine.
I like the way it is both a basket and a china object and I want it in my kitchen.

But it got me thinking about how much we like choosing objects.
Is it because like every women's magazine reader, my mind always goes to the new 'Must Have' purchase?
Desirable objects in museums are still desirable.
Not being able to buy them is a tad disappointing but acceptable.

On Sunday we went here to see the Tate Triennial which was full of random but interesting objects, and then we went to The Rocket Gallery in the Tea Building in Shoreditch which was so breathtakingly cool we thought we were in a new and unusual film set in New York starring abstract art.
We walked into a kind of warehouse with real trucks and found a gallery space tucked in the corner.
But then we realised the pictures were for sale and the whole thing was an art show and we could buy them.
A man in a tiny office looked at us and suddenly there was a bookshop too and yes you could buy more stuff.
I have realised this is why my favourite place in any museum is the museum shop because yes, you can walk away with an object even if it is just a notebook.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The next generation of gaming part III

In my last two posts I talked about Microsoft and Sony's next generation home consoles,
and now it is finally time for me to talk about Nintendo's,
codenamed The Nintendo Revolution.
This console, I think
will offer the real experience of next generation gaming,
not graphics or cool extras, new and innovative gaming.
To make this possible, Nintendo have created a new revolutionary controller.
This controller looks like a sort of TV remote with a sleek white design like an iPod. It is 3D motion sensitive.
This means that we will be able to control and manipulate games like never before. It sensors all directions, forwards, backwards, left, right, up, down. It also sensors tilting.
This is made possible by sensors that are easily placed on each side of the television. there is also a small slot on the bottom of it to add on attatchments, like an control stick, which will come with it, a normall controller shell wich the revolution controller can slot into, or something like a steering wheel or a pretend gun.

The gaming will be amazing, for example if you were playing a first-person perspective shooting game, you would use the control stick attatchment to move your character around, use the controller to look around and aim, and use a trigger like button on the back to shoot.
It would make the game seem extremely real. Antother way would be a adventure swordfighting game, whereyou would control your character with the stick, and use the actual controller as a sword, and you could trigger it to do other things like changing the camera angle, just by the click of another button. Or if you were playing a racing game, you would turn the controller on its side and use it like a steering wheel, it would be so fun. Tennis games, baseball games, fishing games, platform games, even cooking games would be made so much better.
The list of possibilities is endless.
Although Nintendo will be providing amazing gameplay, they won't be providing as amazing graphics as microsoft or sony will be, and they wont be supporting HDTVs either, so on a HDTV you will see quite a difference between the consoles, although on a normal TV you won't.

This is actually good because games for it will cost less to make, and the console and games will be much cheaper.
The Nintendo revolution will have great quality free online play, and a dvd player built into it.
Also the revolution will be very small easy to carry around. It is the size of 3 dvd cases stackd on top of eachother.
I hope this post hasn't bored you and thank-you for reading this and all my previous posts.
(this was the best one ever Dr Kate)

Friday, March 10, 2006

I have decided I want to be an artist

not an academic.
It would be so much easier.
No more worrying about what to do on Strike Day, no more terrible RAE in the middle of the night panics and last minute changes to your esteem indicators (don't ask)

just doing what I like doing best which is:

Taking Photographs (like Dr Joolz)
Writing in notebooks
Being an ethnographer
Meeting people in odd places
Writing muddly stuff which might or might not be interesting
Being nomadic
Buying stuff (Whoops that is not art that is called earning money and spending it)

Anyway, this is partly brought on by this book which is my favourite book and cheered me up on the way back from Sheffield to London.
off to write fieldnotes...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International women's day

Is today.
Luckily Dr Rob has noticed.
In this post we celebrate all women who work
especially nomadic women who are always on the move (like me).

Originally uploaded by gellybean53.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


The Ethnographic turn is a wonderful book and I am enjoying it loads.
I read about the work of Renee Green, who as part of a site-specific project which was called Project Unite, installed a tent that served as her sleeping quarters for the show's duration, creating,
a shelter within a shelter that alluded to the nomad artist's plight of never having a home. To be a working producer today is to be constantly on the move. Working conditions are hardly optimum. The artist-traveller must often work within the confines of often unfocused curatorial concepts.

(Meyer 2000:22-23)
I also read about
Sophie Calle
who with Paul Auster, looked at the way in which the social space surrouding people frames them.
In particular they highlight the dependency of the subject upon the construction of an object, which turns persons into objects and objects into persons
(Kuchler 2000: 95)
Calle's trademark was of 'the self-styled ethnographer of the everyday' and used participant observation in her work.
One of her installations was a cabinet full of the gifts people gave her for her birthday, called Birthday Ceremony, which
consists of a series of cabinets containing a myriad of differently textured things, each one serving as evidence for an unfolding self-other relation
.(Kuchler 2000: 100)
Calle brought together 15 medicine-like cabinets which each contained the gifts from a single year. This project drew on the work of Marilyn Strathern on gifts and their relation to kinship.
I liked this because it was also about dismantling the taken-for-granted concepts of gifting in Euro-American culture and a turning back on itself of the ethnographic gaze.
This ofcourse is what James Clifford is on about in Writing Culture and a new book of his I have not read, called Routes.
Oh no. Yet more books to read...
However, I am On Strike today so I think that is it for now.
Off to the picket lines.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The next generation of gaming part II (Continued from last week's posts by our guest blogger and digital expert)

In my first post on the next generation of gaming I talked about Microsoft's new gaming console th XBox 360.
Now I will talk about Sonys next generation console the Playstation 3.
This console is heading in the same direction as the xbox 360, boasting brilliant graphics, multimedia features, use of HDTVs(high definition TVs) online gaming and loads of memory.
The ps3's graphics are actually supposed to be even better than the xbox 360s, using a new technology called blue ray.
The ps3 is definetly going to be popular because of Sony's huge fanbase from the bestselling ps2 console.
But I don't think this is enough.
All Sony and Microsoft are doing is making games with excellent graphics, that will be expensive to develope, and throwing in a bunch of multimedia features that might overwhelm a new gamer.
But the thing is even with all these cool features it all comes down to gameplay the xbox 360 and the ps3 just won't provide that.
All they are really providing are good graphics.
So, where is the good gameplay going to come from?
I will explain about Nintendo's next generation console in my next and final post.
Thanks for reading and i hope i haven't bored you with my knowledge of games.

(PS I wasn't bored but I didn't understand much of it but it is v. clever Dr Kate)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

small stories

At this wonderful seminar in Milton Keynes I heard about small stories from Alexandra and became very inspired.
Like Dr Joolz and her work on teenage girls' discourse patterns here, she described how teenage girls presented small stories, across different interactions, and returned to them again and again, sometimes reducing them to one-liners.
She and I also talked about non-narratives and withdrawing of narratives, because that is what I talked about.
I was also reminded of small stories when we went here today and watched The Smiths' fans singing Karaoke versions, from diverse countries. They were hilarious but also moving.
I realised these were small stories, dramatic representations and re-enactments, much like Alexandra's teenage girls who told and re-told their stories across interactive chains.
Of Phil Collins' work, the guide said:
His projects are often the culmination of a prolonged period of contact between the artist and the individuals pictured in his work. Dealing with some of the most extreme human situations and experiences – love and death, war and loss - there is also a strong element of humour and energy within Collins's work. Through choreographing seemingly playful scenarios, and inviting his subjects to actively participate in the creative process of representation, Collins’s practice subtly challenges the documentary medium while retaining an incisive political and social dimension.

Here is another small story from Flickr.
If you look this wonderful collection there are loads of them.

Tab Break
Originally uploaded by Baby Shambles.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I am also thinking about

That is the space you are in at any given time, within an ethnographic research project.
Tracking positionality is complex, particularly when you become friends with your informants, translators and everybody, as I tend to do.
One of the difficult things about ethnography is to consider the ways in which you are writing culture.
Working with Steve on the paddle project, I am thinking about the authentic object - the paddle Steve want to carry around Sheffield, described here, is also an ethnographic object.
There are some more ethnographic paddles here.
In taking it around Sheffield, he is changing its use.
He might even have to make another paddle, just to use it properly.
How do I describe this project?
As narrative?
I'm off.
I have to paddle to Milton Keynes, obviously I will canoe there.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


is very hard.
Here is Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead typing up their fieldnotes, which I am madly doing at the moment ALL THE TIME.
When I carried out an ethnography of three homes, I became very involved in the lives of the people I visited, and six years on, I am still visiting one home, and my informants have become my friends.
This is why on Saturday we are going to be doing a presentation for the BAAL Linguistic Ethnography Forum on positionality and reflexivity in ethnography and I will be doing mine on friendship as method.
I have decided to try and write about this as well but it is very hard.
So I consult my favourite ethnographies:
Local Literacies
Ways with Words
and a new book, I read on the train yesterday
Navigating Numeracies, which, while not a full ethnography has an ethnographic perspective (Green and Bloome 1996) and is full of wonderful thick description.
I might also re-read my old favourites:
The Interpretation of Cultures

So I can get messy and complicated and full of thick description.
I have also just found a new book on ethnography which looks amazing as it is about artists and site-specific ethnography which I am also planning to write about with this lot.
More things to think about.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

material culture

For the past few days the blog has been thrillingly guest hosted by our 13 year old resident games payer but due to lack of comments except by the very supportive Captain JP (why? Where are you all?)
I am back on my regular theme of material culture.
Yesterday in the Guardian there was a feature on how bad material culture is as we all buy more and more things and they end up in an endlessly recycled heap of stuff.
This is bad obviously, but I think that there is something to be said about the relationship between timescales and objects.
I think that the longer you keep an object, its properties change and develop accordingly.
In my work in homes, some objects held longer timescales than others, and were intergenerational, spanning countries and changing meanings and they passed through generations.
In this book on Material Culture in the social world it is argued that, we need to examine,
the way in which consumption choices are made which rely on social customs and practices rather than rational economic decisions.

As someone who rarely relies on rational economic decisions to make purchases I find this a helpful comment.

Some purchases you never regret or recycle.
This Agnes b beret is particularly wonderful and brightens my days.
It could be said to be an artefact of identity.