“Trust me,” she replied. “We noticed.”
However, that’s not true. And it is true, sort of. It isn’t that I got “sidetracked.” I needed to rebuild a research agenda from the ground up. I don’t think of these as separate research agendas. Rather I think of them as tributaries, as creeks (or as they say down here “cricks”), in my larger research agenda. Like creeks that come together to form a stream, these disparate tributaries are all starting to come together to form my research agenda.
That’s what I’ve been doing these last few years. It may seem like I do not have a plan, but I do. I actually do. Really. Although not going exactly how I planned this out in my head, (some things are taking longer than I expected, some things faster than I expected) the plan is coming together.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a pretty huge geek. For one thing, I collect comics and graphic novels. I used to have a lot more comics than I do, but a tornado hit my storage unit in Illinois and a lot of my original Marvel Comics were destroyed. I had a lot of the originals, but especially The Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. I cannot express how excited I am that Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing the titular character in the Doctor Strange movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s cool. If you haven’t seen him in the BBC’s Sherlock, I highly recommend you give it a shot. I believe it is one of the best shows on television. It’s pretty easy to catch up on at the moment because both he and co-star Martin Freeman have been pretty busy doing movies such as The Hobbit and Star Trek, among other things.
However, this post isn’t simply about Doctor Strange or B.C. It’s really about getting back to my roots as a person and as a researcher. How so? Well, I was a pop culture geek long before I became a Ph.D. (making me an academic geek). The former is one aspect of my primary identity, and has never and will never go away. So now I find myself combining them in my research going forward.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a trained ethnographer and organizational communication scholar. As such I go into organizations and study “how things work” as people go about their everyday business of working in a business. It seems pretty simple, but doing an excellent ethnography entails a lot of hours, a lot of observation, and a lot of writing. And I am cool with that.
Until recently, I focused my research into five main areas.
Organizational communication research.
Personal narrative (known in academe as Autoethnographic) research.
Pop culture research.
Kierkegaardian research (based on the philosophy of Kierkegaard).
Communication and Technology (I was an IT guru at one point, after all)
However, as I said earlier, these aren't different agendas. They are "criks."
The first foray was to revitalize Kierkegaard’s philosophy of communication and have it embedded into the communication discipline. I’ve been reading and studying Kierkegaard since I was an undergraduate majoring in philosophy. I did that with the piece I wrote called “Kierkegaard and dialogue: The communication of capability,” which came out in 2008 in Communication Theory. Obviously, it is a theoretical piece, but it was important. I needed to lay the groundwork. You can’t simply say, “This is what I think!” You have to build from a solid foundation. That piece was the foundation.
From there, I began to combine my organizational communication background with how Kierkegaard might be used in organizations. I was able to parlay that into an article about how Kierkegaard’s philosophy of communication might be used by human resources professionals. That piece is here. See? A combination = Organizational Communication + Kierkegaard.
Then I began to think about how Kierkegaard is related to personal narrative. Kierkegaard used a lot of narratives in his published work and in his journals. I also started thinking about my own relationship with the American Church. If you don’t know, Kierkegaard was a serious critic of the Church in his day, and this has always resonated with me. So I used Kierkegaard as a jumping off point for an article called, “Walking in Kierkegaard’s instant and walking out of American Christendom,” which is currently in press at Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. So here’s the second combination = Personal Narrative + Kierkegaard.
Finally, there’s my chapter in our co-edited book Beyond New Media. I took what I learned from Kierkegaard and existential phenomenology, combined it with the work of Karl Weick – an amazing organizational scholar – and examined how people “make sense” of information in an online space through their conversations. That’s the third combination = Kierkegaard + Organizational Communication + Communication Technology.
So you might be thinking to yourself, “Well Andrew, that’s all nice, but what about the other streams? What about the rest of the personal narrative stuff? And how the heck does Doctor Strange fit into this?”
For that you will have to wait until my next post. I’ll give you a few hints though. It includes DragonCon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a local comic book shop.