8: Blakeslee/Fleischer Prompts, Ch. 3

Prompt 5 (Blakeslee p. 44): Completing a lit review


  • Coverage of topic — what if I miss something important?
  • How do I narrow my topic? I probably can’t read everything that has to do with gender and tech comm.
  • What if Milner doesn’t have access to something important?
  • What is the appropriate balance of sources? (eg, should I look mostly at books, or mostly at articles, since that’s what I’m looking at producing.)
  • How do I find out if I’m reading the research in the same ways other people are?

How do I view myself in relation to the scholars whose work I’m reviewing? This depends on the scholar in question. Very often, I see the scholars I’m reading as beyond my reach. However, I’m aware that some emerging scholars in the field have done important studies that have been acknowledged, and I’ve been very encouraged by the community I’ve found, especially at the Computers & Writing Conference.

Prompt 6 (Blakeslee p. 44): Reviewing a journal

  • Gender & Society; Deputy editors are Betsy Lucal (Indiana University) and Bandana Purkayastha (University of Connecticut); I’m reviewing the three most recent issues, which are October 2010, August 2010, and June 2010.
  • Topics of articles in these three issues included: motherhood, family makeup in specific cultures, sexuality, economics and welfare, gendered labor, naming, reproductive practices, gendered activities in cultural locales.
  • Gender & Society focuses on research reports, most of which are about 20 pages. The journal also publishes a significant number of book reviews.
  • Most articles are examples of qualitative research. I would describe most of them also as ethnographic in nature.
  • Nugent, Colleen. “Children’s Surnames, Moral Dilemmas: Accounting for the Predominance of Fathers’ Surnames for Children.” Gender & Society 24.4. (2010): 499-525. Print. Nugent uses an online content analysis methodology to examine the predominant cultural choice to give a child the father’s surname and how this practice results in “gendered differences in moral responsibility.” Nugent conducts her study by analyzing 600 comments from online forums on this topic and coding them based on information about the commenters. She examines the motivations of naming, but an obvious limitation is that all the people whose comments she used were aware of the importance of naming enough to be talking about it. Nugent says the practice of patrilineal naming results in the privilege of continuity of identity for men and the perception that families with only daughters “die out,” perhaps resulting in preference for sons. She also shows that this cultural practice is most common among white, “native,” affluent members of society, lending this practice legitimacy. Ultimately, Nugent says that women who want to take a stand against this hegemonic practice are faced with a moral dilemma of choosing between their own benefit and their family’s.

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