Student Spotlight: Kimberly Klinger Defends Her Dissertation

Student Spotlight: Kimberly Klinger Defends Her Dissertation

Kimberly Klinger defended her dissertation entitled "The Birth of Morbopolitics: Pittsburgh and the Normalization of Organ Transfer" and worked with Dr. Roger Lancaster, Dr. Denise Albanese, and Dr. Craig WillseChristine Rosenfeld conducted a short exchange with Kimberly in which she reflects on her time at Mason.


How have your research interests changed from the time you began the PhD program to now, and in which direction do you envision your work moving upon graduating?

When I first started, I was coming out of a women's studies program, so I thought my research would stay gender-focused. In CS we of course attend to gender, but I found myself moving away from a strict gender-based analysis to a consideration of political economy, history, and, eventually, biopolitics. It was Craig's biopolitics course that really changed the trajectory of my PhD; it was there that I wrote the paper that was folded into my dissertation. I consider the field biopolitics to be the space where my future work will reside. I want to expand upon my theory of morbopolitics, which came from my work on organ transplantation, pushes against and tests Foucault's theorization of biopolitics and biopower, and seeks to explain how desperately ill populations are managed.


What kinds of professional development did you pursue while a student and which do you think will best position you to get the job you want: publishing, presenting, teaching, service in the department, engagement in non-university service projects, acquiring particular research skills?

I did a little bit of everything, from teaching to conferences to department service as admissions representation, and I think they will all be helpful - though I don't have solid plans for what I am going to do next. This is a transition year of publishing the dissertation, teaching part-time, and entering the job market. I do feel confident, though, that I have the skills necessary to do well, even though the market is extremely competitive.

What is one of your best memories from your time in the PhD program in Cultural Studies?

I could never pick just one memory, sorry! I made a lot of great friends and had some extraordinary experiences both professionally and personally. I will say, though, that anytime I drove with a friend to or from campus, I would get more work done there than perhaps anywhere else. Those car conversations helped me to sort out class work, conference ideas, and even my dissertation - and sometimes even my personal life. The CS program is not a cutthroat, competitive place. It's collaborative and supportive, and I think that's a big reason why we do such good work.