Thursday, March 20, 2014

Foot Work

Leave your footprints on my dissertation – and win a signed page! (UPDATED w/deadline below)


I’m nearing the finale of the dissertation, and for the final chapter I’m seeking a little help from you – specifically in the form of your feet.

Throughout the work, there have been a number of significant scenes involving feet and shoes, in terms of the paths we tread and the possibility of stepping out. (U of Wisconsin graduate candidate Remi Holden used this particular three-panel sequence from early in the dissertation as themantra of his keynote at the University of Michigan last summer.)


In the final chapter, I’ll be bringing some of these threads together to reflect on education. Consider that my size 10 1/2s don’t look a lot like someone else’s who happens to wear the same shoe size. And so if our feet when held to the same standard are that different, how different must be our ways of thinking…


This is where you come in. Rather than making up distinct foot shapes, I’m seeking a lot of outlines of people’s feet to use as visual information for a sequence tackling this. I’m not exactly sure how the page or pages will unfold, but I’m willing to embrace that uncertainty and see what comes of this.

I’ll be looking broadly at two general categories – feet comparable to my own, US M 10-11 and then ANY shoe sizes, to look at the differences even between the shape of left and right. If I happen to get a ton of one particular size, I may use that as my main focus instead. So that’ll be up in the air till I see what comes in and start to play with it all. I welcome the unexpected discoveries that surface.


If you’re up for it – what I need from you is simply this: trace the outline of each one of your feet and then label it right/left, male/female (what shoe you wear, not your gender), and US shoe size. In my case, this looks like R, M, 10.5, and L, M 10.5.  Then scan or take a digital photo of the tracing, low-resolution is fine (and preferred), as all I need is a clear outline. Label the picture/scan as above without any additional identifying information. Send it to me at nsousanis @ gmail.com with subject heading “foot project” (or some clever pun if you’d prefer).

I will not identify your feet in any way in the work, and will save all the image files in a folder without retaining the sender’s information. I’ll be redrawing the outlines, for visual clarity and consistency as well.

In appreciation of your support, I would like to credit you in the acknowledgments of the dissertation – either your full name, if you choose, or first name and last initial, or anonymous if you prefer. So let me know which: “John Smith,” “John S,” or “please leave me anonymous”.

Additionally, for being such good sports, everyone who submits a pair of outlines will be entered into a drawing to win a signed 11by17 inch print of one page from the dissertation. Three runners-up will receive a signed-mini excerpt from the work. (Winners will be randomly selected.) All will have my gratitude for the contribution and for all the support of this project that I’ve been fortunate to receive.
UPDATE: To be eligible for the contest, foot outlines must be received by Tuesday, April 8!


Lastly, this site may go particularly quiet as I’m in that last push to finish and defend in late April. And any day now, my wife and I will be welcoming our first child – and with her a whole new set of feet…

Thanks for the support! Onward – Nick

For folks new to the work, you can get up to speed quickly in this recent profile in the Chronicle, or click the dissertation link to the upper right for more excerpts from the dissertation.

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