Dylan Jones talks about being a grad student and publishing his work in Crossings
Dylan Jones, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies: Texts and Cultures program, focuses his studies on research methods and practices that provide a better understanding of the cultural and social discourses that shape our perceptions of other people. His recent work on the identity construction of long distance runners is featured in Crossings, the University of Winnipeg’s interdisciplinary student journal. Graduate Studies recently caught up with Dylan to talk about the process of publishing an article and his experiences as a graduate student.
How has experience in the Cultural Studies program been and what interested you in the program?
I am continuing to enjoy the cultural studies program. The students and professors have played a significant role in making the transition from the undergraduate to graduate program run smoothly. There were times, especially in the beginning, where I felt like I didn’t belong. There were moments where I questioned myself why I was here. Did I deserve to be here? However, through hard work and the supportive atmosphere of my professors and classmates, I feel pretty confident that I made the right choice to enroll in this program.
My main interest in this program started when I passed an advertisement in the hall on my way to rhetorical grammar. So, maybe it’s not the most exciting story, haha! As I worked my way through the application process, I found that the program complimented my undergrad in Rhetoric and Sociology.
Your article, “Exploring the Social World of Distance Runners: An Auto-Ethnographic Study” is published in the first volume of Crossings. Please tell us a little bit about the article and some of your experience in preparing your article for publication.
For the article, I ran with a group of distance runners who regularly meet at City Park Runners. The study was an assignment in my Forms of Inquiry class. I had to create an ethnographic study, so I decided to work on a subject I was familiar with. At the time, I was already a distance runner of five years. For that reason, it was easy for me to approach a group to run with in order to conduct a study. Eventually, the study became an auto-ethnography because I situated myself in the study, since I was also participating as a runner. For that matter, I observed how these runners as individuals constructed an identity that contributed to a collective identity.
In preparing my article for publication in the Crossings journal, I dealt with a few people from the journal mainly via email. The hardest part was dealing with the ethics board. Initially, my original study did not mention anything in the consent forms about possible future publication. For that reason, I had to contact my informants and ask them to sign new consent forms. Thankfully, everyone complied and the article made the publication deadline!
Excerpt from the opening of “Exploring the Social World of Distance Runners: An Auto-Ethnographic Study”:
On an early fall morning, I was racing fast down a street. My level of excitement was higher than usual because I was participating in the Winnipeg Services Fire Paramedic Service Half-Marathon. I turned down the final curve and, aided by the crowd roaring all around me, with an extra burst of momentum, I crossed the finish line. With the race over, and with my body exhausted and sore all over, it seemed an opportune time to think about myself as a runner within the community that I have become a part of. I asked myself: “Why do I continue to do this?” And, looking around at the other agonized runners finishing the race: “Why do others do the same?” More specifically, I wanted to understand how social relations are formed between the individual and other runners and how the self and community are related. These thoughts motivated me to begin an ethnographic study on social running groups.
Research Methods is a core course of Cultural Studies. Did this previous research project help prepare you for this course? Has Research Methods given you any new insights into auto-ethnography or other forms of research?
My previous project helped me understand the ethnographic section of the Research Methods course in Cultural Studies. I was already familiar with a lot of the terminology, so I really enjoyed the revision. On the other hand, since the course is at a higher level than my previous class, I learned more complex approaches to auto-ethnography. Likewise, Cultural Studies’ multidisciplinary approach also made me aware of a variety of methods while creating a stronger awareness of my position as researcher.
What advice would you to students interested in submitting to Crossings?
Make sure you have you nail down anything that has to do with research ethics! If that is not applicable to you, then keep in contact with your peer-reviewer and anyone else developing your piece for publication. I found that strong communication made the submission and editing process run smoothly.
Crossings is currently accepting submissions of undergraduate and graduate work from students working in the humanities and social sciences, creative arts, or interdisciplinary studies for issue 2. Submissions are due April 24, 2017. For more information, please see http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/graduate-studies/news/2017/01/call-for-papers-for-the-journal-crossings,-issue-2.html.
Are you continuing to run as a grad student? And if so, how do you think it contributes to your grad studies experience?
I haven’t been able to run as much as I would like to. I spend a lot of time reading, writing, and drinking coffee. When I do run, I find that the exercise helps me brainstorm for my latest assignment. Hmmm, I should probably get out there more often if I plan on running my sixth full marathon in six years at the Manitoba Marathon event in June!