Conveying the Significance of Media

Reflecting upon my work with developing my research purpose and significance statement, I’ve found that while I can effectively communicate my project in a broad sense, I struggle to articulate the coalescence of girlhood, Anne of Green Gables, and adaptation in a precise and effective sentence or two. There is so much to talk about and incorporate that I freeze up because I don’t want to miss anything. Anne is a national Canadian icon – a drawing of her is the face of Prince Edward Island’s license plate! The idea that I might be missing something that could completely change my project is intimidating, to say the least.

Beyond my specific work with my purpose and significant statements, communicating my research to a general audience is a bit tricky. Unlike many of my STEM-oriented peer’s research talking about what my research is not the struggle, as I’m analyzing movies instead of atoms. While a general person might not have experience with gender or media theory in an academic or theoretical sense, everyone has experience with gender and media in a personal sense. Furthermore, we live in an era of remakes and reboots. It’s not uncommon to see a familiar tale from a new light and ask – Why did they change that? My research, therefore, tracks what significant changes Anne of Green Gables adaptations have made throughout different periods and what those changes say about girlhood.  

What is a bit more difficult is explaining why my research is important. Topics such as gender, sexuality, and society are relevant to nearly every second of someone’s life. However, they are so embedded into what we perceive as ‘normal’ that they tend to fly under the radar. I think that everyone agrees that the media has a co-dependent relationship with society and the politics of our current age. However, media analysis, and especially my research, isn’t so much about finding the solution to a problem. Instead, it’s more focused on pointing out modes of understanding so that we can better understand our interactions and how different aspects of our identity play a role in them.

Furthermore, and in coalescence with my current professional goals, this research is feminist. It is a political stance and a necessary one at that. My entire field – gender, sexuality, and women’s studies is a political stance, and one that doesn’t often strive for political ‘neutrality’ (I put neutrality in quotations as many feminist studies question the concept of empirical neutrality, to begin with). There will be donors or possible employers that disagree on even do not respect the field of GSWS. However, despite the uphill battle, I know as someone that wants to continue to work within the field of GSWS, I know it is important to advocate for what this field can provide and strive to dispel misconceptions about the work. For media studies, it’s vitally important to understand how media changes and impacts our perceptions of others and the world around us. 

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