Monday, May 24, 2010

A Thesis, Some Snarls

Ok, the problem I've been having lately with this paper for my ENGL 295 class... the one about immigrant and native identity, and how that relates to digital media, and how that relates to literature... is simply that I feel completely overwhelmed. There is TOO MUCH to talk about. I always try and tackle too much, and perhaps sometimes that my ideas come out as much less powerful than if I'd just stuck with one thing. Have you, my fellow classmates, run into the same problem with this second paper?

That being said, I'm going to scratch looking at language, interactions, and identity (see Friday's post) and just stick with identity. I want to argue that the immigrant/native paradigm is very accurate for the digital world because new media allows the "native" children of immigrants to choose how they will construct their identity, which often incorporates their parents' immigrant identity into a new multi-cultural identity. See "Children of Immigrants Form Ethnic Identity at Early Age", as well as some of the articles on the side of that page. Some digital "natives" really are tech savvy, but many others don't have all skills in all areas. They incorporate their immigrant parents' identity. I also want to talk about how the immigrant metaphor was a handy metaphor to describe the digital age, because we are used to coming in contact with it in literature. The Joy Luck Club is a good example of immigrant "choice" and the mixture of identity.

So, problem: is this "too much"? Another problem: this goes a little contrary to my thesis for my first paper (see here for a description). That's ok, right?


  1. Heather, I totally feel the same way! I had the same problem with my first paper, so I'm trying to keep my focus pretty narrow on this next one. It's hard. Props to you for being able to let go of some issues. It seems like identity is the most crucial and interesting part of your argument. I like it.

    Anyway, this post makes me think of the article ( that James showed me on my blog. It brings up the point that online communication is just as valid as real communication, but the older generation refuses to recognize it. I feel like this plays into the immigrant metaphor. The article you cited said that a "three-year study found that a child’s positive sense of ethnic identity is associated with the desire to socialize with children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds." Well, this study ( said "When we examine people’s full personal network – their strong ties and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with having a more diverse social network."

    So children with a positive ethnic identity have a more diverse, better social network. People (digital natives?) with a positive online identity have a more diverse, better social network too. As technology becomes more accessible, these two groups are merging. Right?

  2. Curse that gripping urge to overcomplicate matters! I almost decided to devote the second paper entirely to the theme of too much information before I realized how ridiculously obvious it is. I aspire to follow your lead to simplify.

    Pertaining to your subject of identity, I agree that broad social networks like Facebook increase diversity in contacts - leading to a more well-rounded individual, but I wonder if the scope of interaction dillutes the depth of the child's development (like what you were saying about your writing).

    Relating to digital identity... Are we becoming a shallower culture or just deeper on a higher, more unified level? What about those who have not yet immigrated to the digital age - like the poorest nations in Africa for instance. How does their identity contrast with the identity of the digital culture, and so what? Maybe include pros and cons of each group and draw some general conclusions. Anyway, that's one possible quasi-outline, and I think you could pull of those two subjects in four pages better than a full blown, intensive juggling act. It's a good balance I think.