Sunday, March 1, 2015

F#27: Finding My Niche

Semester Two of grad school.  One class is very abstract random in its organization and is supposed to be part of my Museums concentration, although I haven't figured out how exactly.  The second class is at least about doing research, although some of the books are pretty painful to read.

So in this class, we were asked in our first week what our research interests were.  Everyone around me had answers: contemporary art, maritime history, African American history, Native American history...the list went on.  And then when the professor got to me, I was stumped.  I am interested in just about everything.  How am I supposed to know what my research interests are, and on what I want to do my thesis? It's only semester two...I have five semesters in total to figure this out!

But I started thinking about it.  Although I understand the impetus to researching the oppressed communities of American society, I also find it would be disingenuous of me, as a middle-class white woman, to pretend I can somehow make sense of the information I would be retrieving.  

Despite my distaste of New England as a child, and my distaste of the weather currently, the region is fascinating.  As "home base" for many of the European immigrants, we've got a lot of history.  Some of it is not very pretty, including the witch hunts/trials of the 17th century.  But is it too obvious, as a New England woman, to research the plight of other New England women?

Another thought I've had lately, but I'm not sure how I'd formulate it exactly, is that I'm intrigued by the representation of American history in fiction.  This comes partially from Sleepy Hollow just finishing up its second season on FOX, but also my love of historical fiction.  What are the things that movies, television, and literature consistently get right, and what are the things they consistently change?  Is this a thing I could even do research on?  I mean, how many books, movies, and tv shows would I have to consume in order to find an answer?

I am excited to begin this next trek in my academic journey, but I definitely don't know what map I am going to follow.

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