This is my first blog post since finishing all of my coursework for my PhD. Lately I’ve been consumed with working on my dissertation. What an adventure! And speaking of adventures, I’ve also been reading Jonathan Swift’s classic, Gulliver’s Travels.
In Gulliver’s Travels, Lemuel Gulliver, is a restless adventurer who goes on voyage after voyage. He sets sail and always ends up somewhere completely unexpected! First he lands in the land of teeny tiny people, then in a land of giants. Later he is rescued from the ocean by people living in a land that floats in the sky. Currently I am reading the part of the book where, after a mutiny on his ship, he is deposited in a land where horses are the intelligent species!
What on earth does this have to do with my dissertation? Well, after going through several unexpected revisions, I’ve very quickly learned that I should embark on this adventure, called a dissertation, with an open mind. I need to be flexible and just take it day by day. The best laid plans in a dissertation are likely to change!
Gulliver’s Travel also relates to my dissertation in another way. The traveler learns that at each of the lands he visits, the people are very different, with views that seem completely strange to them. He spends time at each land learning about the people, their customs, beliefs, and values. My dissertation is about subtle sexism. This topic has me frequently thinking about the need to consider the perspectives of other people. I imagine a person traveling through a magical life and becoming changed into someone belonging to a variety of communities, where the traveler is then forced to learn their perspectives. The traveler may become black, a police officer, Islamic, Jewish, an immigrant, LGBTQ, poverty stricken, disabled, etc… the possibilities are endless. What an eye-opening adventure to be forced to become a part of these various communities. I think I have an idea for a book!
We can see through the perspectives of Houyhnhnms, Yahoos, Lilliputians, or anyone, if only we are willing to open our eyes, ears, and hearts!