~ By Joanna Thornburg
This summer I had the privilege of working as a research assistant for Professor Sarah Kornfield as she began drafting her book Watching Women. As part of my role, I was entrusted with tasks such as curating an annotated bibliography on a wide array of topics, including post-feminist theory, queer theory, and race theory as well as aesthetics, conceptions of femininity, and the concept of femmephobia. Reading dozens of scholarly articles, I collected and organized information that Professor Kornfield can use when drafting chapters.
In addition to that responsibility, I fact-checked the statements made in the chapters. This involved conducting thorough research to ensure the accuracy and credibility of the information presented. I also spent a significant amount of time perfecting Chicago-style footnotes, doing over 100 in just one chapter.
Perhaps the most important task with which I assisted Professor Kornfield was watching TV. I watched many popular TV shows, such as Bridgerton, The Rookie, and Elementary, and took meticulous notes of particular camerawork patterns and themes.
The focus was largely on how we as the audience watch men watch women. I also focused on how the men on TV gazing longingly at the women they desire, as well as how queer characters and overtly feminist characters are portrayed.
Working as a research assistant for Professor Kornfield provided me with invaluable experience. The opportunity to contribute to Watching Women allowed me to delve into the world of research, engage with important feminist discourse, and witness the intricate process of writing a book. This experience has further fueled my passion for gender and TV studies and solidified my commitment to advocating for gender equality in society.