Nothing too lowbrow

I am totally becoming that person (if there is ever such person) who couldn’t wait to catch up with my weekly subscribed newsletters over the wait for my car service tomorrow. Weekdays were often spent with reading and writing for work, and for the life of me, I am so worried that after all the doctoral research is done, I might get tired of reading.

Today’s reading brought to me to my first TIL (Today I Learned) in what I found out about Kurt Vonnegut’s rejected MA thesis. He studied Anthropology at the University of Chicago soon after returning to the States from WWII. In his rejected 1946’s thesis “Fluctuations Between Good and Evil in Simple Tales” , Vonnegut proposed that stories have shapes, which were further broken down into 6 archetypical stories after a number of comparative research on western literature.

Vonnegut’s thesis are only proven 70 years later, very recently in 2016 — when a researcher from University of Vermont used sentiment mining to analyse 1327 stories from Project Gutenberg and found that they corresponded to 6 basic shapes.

My second TIL was this interesting discovery on Queueing Theory. It’s essentially “the mathematical study of waiting lines, or of course, queues. A queueing model is constructed so that queue lengths and waiting time can be predicted. Queueing theory is generally considered a branch of operations research because the results are often used when making business decisions about the resources needed to provide a service.”

It brought me to this tweet I encountered recently, on a researcher asking what sort of guilty cultural pleasure, or “lowbrow” subjects/activities people in academia enjoy and if they would write about it. What I learned about entering academia is, and also judging from the replies, nothing can be considered “lowbrow”. You could be interested in anything and dig deeper into it however way you like, as long as you can contribute something to various bodies of knowledge, whether theoretical or practical. I have read journals from the study of emojis to performative activism to eroticism in modern popculture artifacts to postcolonial/post-imperialism studies. I mean, we have a specific mathematical section on studying queues!

Where do I go from here? I’m not sure how to end this but if there is anything I can take from this post is that I’m glad I can always be perpetually curious — no topic is ever a too lowbrow topic for me to be interested in, and that’s how I hope everyone feels too so we can all learn from each other.

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