Though I never found time to make a farewell post at the end of my semester, I would like to say a couple things now for students who are potentially interested in this program:
1. Do it! Apply for the program. You won’t regret it. Living in Chicago as an undergrad, especially after coming from a small liberal arts school, will change you fundamentally (for the better). Do it.
2. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the program. This blog was a messy collection of my stressed thoughts throughout the semester, so I would be happy to clarify any information about the Newberry experience you might be curious about.
3. Here is the digital portion of my final project at the Newberry. Here I am, three months after the program has ended, and I still think about my research often. My website: hansard.wix.com/faulkner-cowley
If you have any time or interest, PLEASE check it out! Of all the academic work I’ve done as an undergrad, I am surely the most proud of my work on Faulkner & Cowley at the Newberry.
Wow–what a ride! Even now, I think back on my time in Chicago with laughter and pride. I will always remember my semester there fondly, with the sweetest kind of nostalgia. I know I’ve already stated this (refer to advice point #1), but if you are even considering applying for this program…you should do it.
With infinite love for the ACM & the library,
When I last wrote here, about two weeks ago, I was stressed about research. Well, sad to say, I’m still stressed about research. My professors and I felt that in addition to my digital project, a 20 page paper was needed to really solidify some of my arguments. While this process was needed, I become immediately panicked, while thinking I would have to begin the research process all over again. Luckily, with the reassurance of Bridget and Hannah, I have just finished the first draft of my 20 page paper. AND, I have also finished the “rough draft” of my scholarly website. Meaning….my “first full draft” of my project is done! Given that we did not need to reach this landmark until next week, I’m ecstatic to be so far ahead. That’s not to say, however, that there isn’t a lot left to do. This will be the first go around for Hannah & Bridget to take a look at my paper…so it is safe to say that I might end up changing a considerable amount of it, depending on feedback. We also have our final library presentations next week, which will be in the form of an academic conference (each student will be placed on a panel with peers who have similar research interests, we will present for 10 minutes each, and then open the floor for Q&A). So, needless to say, I need to get to work preparing for that, as well. No matter what, I’m just happy to be done for the day and begin relaxing. For me, that means watching some Scrubs in my pajamas. ❤
While not doing research these past two weeks, I’ve been in Springfield accepting my Lincoln Laureate award (a picture is below), exploring more donut shops with Nicole, and getting some work done for my boss at the Newberry. This weekend I’ve decided to celebrate all that I’ve accomplished thus far, by going out to eat with my friend Kylie at one of my favorite places here, Lady Gregory’s. I’m so exicted for that dinner, and hopefully to accomplish some more revising this weekend.
As things are coming to a close here in Chicago (only three weeks left, and one of those weeks involves Thanksgiving Break) I’m really starting to appreciate all that I’ve accomplished so far. Already, this semester has been the most productive of my undergraduate career, and I think in large part that is due to the independent nature of the seminar. When you rely on your own motivation to get things done, that can either mean that you do the bare minimum, or you go above and beyond what you initially set out to do. Because of my immense passion for my project, I have achieved far more than I ever thought possible. Speaking of how passionate I am about my research…I got to touch William Faulkner’s signature in Special Collections this week!! Woohoo!!
Well, sorry for this brief and not-so-eloquent post. My brain is fried from the day’s work. But, I will say that I’m not sure when I will be able to post again. Things here at the Newberry have a way of passing by so quickly; perhaps it is the excitement or the stress that makes time fly.
Talk soon (hopefully),
Below I’m having a little Halloween fun at my carrel:
Some progress I’ve made at the gym this semester:
Above is my hero Dr. Zanelotti and I after accepting my Lincoln Laureate aware in Springfield!
This past week feels like it flew by. Our class attended a digital humanities conference on Thursday and Friday, which was sometimes confusing, sometimes educational, and always interesting. The reason the conference was confusing is that many people there represented the field of computer science, so while the stuff they were presenting on was certainly fascinating, much of the computer science terminology was over my head. On the other hand, these presenters offered a great chance to see the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the digital humanities. The possibilities seem endless for what computer science and the humanities can accomplish together! Even better was the fact that Professors Draxler and Schell allowed some classmates and I to present about our projects during their session. The response was awesome–the professionals in the audience were receptive to and supportive of my research project. Getting general feedback and support about my project was really motivating for me (and I definitely need some motivation right now…the midway point in the semester is always the worst).
Later on in the weekend, I got to see my friend Mary from the University of Iowa. Getting her feedback on my project was helpful, as she is my long-time trusted editor and friend. Additionally, we ate some traditional Chicago style pizza together and went to check out the Chicago Public Library.
Today seemed long, and this week seems daunting. Sometime before next Monday I need to produce the equivalent of 20-30 pages for my research project. Though I am making strides, I seem to be getting bogged down by the minor formatting and technical issues and focusing less on the bigger content picture than I would like. Hopefully this week I find time to make true progress in terms of content. Finding time to make this progress might be difficult though, since I have writing groups and work to focus on, as well. Additionally, I am going back to STL late Thursday evening, so that on Friday I can touch base with my McKendree advisers and find some inspiration at home. On Saturday, I will be driving to Springfield with my parents to accept the Lincoln Laureate award, and then it is back to Chicago Sunday morning.
I couldn’t be happier to come home and see my family, friends, McK community, and dog (she is actually the most important creature on this list), but I am also worried about finding the time to get my research done this week. I will work diligently and do my best, and hopefully I will be able to get a little bit of work done on the train.
To all future Newberry Seminar students: this program is worthwhile, educational, and will force you to be self-reflective in a way you never thought possible. But please be advised to have as much fun as you can during the seminar portion of the semester (which I certainly did), and be prepared to buckle down during the research portion of the semester and give it your all. Plus, the weather is better at the beginning of the semester. Cultural exploration is critical, but do it first.
All, wish me luck this week, and in the coming month! Regardless of the immense amount of stress I feel, I feel even more confident I will have ultimately produced the most important piece of research that I have worked on to date. To all fellow Bearcats: good luck with midterms, and try to find a piece of yourself in everything you create and study–doing work becomes a lot more fun that way.
I hope to update this soon, but we will see how the week plays out! 🙂
Here are photos from the DH conference!
It is 11:21 PM on Sunday night in Chicago. I’m sitting here listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and trying to finish my research due tomorrow at noon. Luckily, I think I am almost done with what I planned to prepare for tomorrow–hooray! I know I have been particularly vague about my topic, and that is an intentional decision for two reasons: 1) I want it to be a surprise at the of the semester, and 2) the specifics of it change at least once a week (I either add an important idea or take something significant away, and sometimes both). But now that we are 1/3 done with the first draft of our final research project, I feel I can definitely own up to the fact that my research is about Malcolm Cowley and William Faulkner. More importantly, my project is entirely digital. The move from print to digital is somewhat terrifying and exhilarating for me. It is always a joy to confront new problems and create innovative solutions, and this semester has been all about tackling new experiences head-on.
I’ve also recently learned that McKendree University has named me their Lincoln Laureate for the graduating class of 2015. I am so honored to represent the Humanities Division in such a wonderful way, and getting this award has made me miss my McKendree professors more than ever. Since I am in my senior year, I am becoming incredibly reflective on my undergraduate experience, and I am confident that I could not have selected a better institution or chosen better experiences to pursue (the Newberry being one of those experiences). I am sending everybody at McKendree a big thanks for the honor, and I cannot wait to receive my award in Springfield on Nov 1st with Dr. Kevin Zanelotti by my side!
As a final thought, I ate at a restaurant called Scofflaw with my friend Kylie out in Logan on Friday night, and I actually think it is the best food I’ve had so far in Chicago–and that is saying a lot! If anybody who is reading this is coming to Chicago soon, or if you are a future Newberry Seminar student, you MUST try Scofflaw before you leave!
I am halfway through the week, and halfway through the seminar. This is a bittersweet time for me, as I’m feeling a variety of different emotions. On one hand, I am homesick and ready to see my parents, friends, and McKendree family again soon. But, on the other hand, I am becoming increasingly attached to my life in Chicago and my place at the Newberry. Some days I want time to slow down, some days I want time to speed up, and some days I want to set the concept of time on fire (this is a direct result of reading too much Faulkner lately).
Speaking of Faulkner (what a great transition, I know), my research has been making great strides, especially over the past few days. This progress is in large part due to a deadline looming in the coming week, though I like to think I would have made this much progress regardless. Each day, I discover something new and significant about the Cowley-Faulkner relationship that feels groundbreaking to me. I still have great passion for my research topic, which I believe to be a product of Faulkner’s endless genius,my own blind intensity, and a bit of good luck. Given that us students are spending more and more time camped out at our carrels, slowly becoming mindless zombies in search of any sources to devour, I am grateful that I haven’t went completely insane. I think what I am trying to say is, research has become pretty time-consuming. We all probably need a break.
One thing that has undoubtedly kept my spirits high is a recent visit from my fellow Bearcat Bomi! Bomi came to spend this past weekend with me and it was such a blast. We spent a lot of time exploring Old Town, Gold Coast, Andersonville, and the Loop, as well as doing heaps of touristy things that I’ve been dying to do (Segway tour anyone?!). In addition to seeing Bomi, my roommate Nicole and I have become set on trying out the best doughnut shop in each Chicago neighborhood. So far we’ve tried Glazed and Infused and Firecakes, and I feel that both of these trips have been highly successful. These trips not only give us a much-needed break and encourage us to try new food, but they also carry the added bonus of allowing us to see new parts of the city. These past weeks I’ve also had the chance to see the first annual Chicago Fire Festival and try famous Chicago restaurants Xoco and Crisp. To show a little hometown love, I have also traveled just north to Sedgwick’s, a St. Louis themed restaurant, to catch the Cardinals games with some fellow St. Louisans.
In closing, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the first half of this semester. One of the biggest downsides has been losing the time to do important things in my life, such as applying for all the post-graduation programs/opportunities I’m interested in or staying in touch with as many people as I should. I am missing one of my dearest friends (Alex, I love you!) as she makes her move from St. Louis to Omaha, and I’m totally behind on Survivor (don’t judge me). But ultimately, these sacrifices are more than worth it. I am deeply considering what I want for a career in the humanities, and I have critically assessed my own skills and what I bring to the table in a group dynamic. I have found a real value in the research I’m conducting, and I think I have had some of the coolest cultural experiences on this side of amazing.
I’m going to run for now, but I’m sending much love to all my Bearcats back home! Wish me luck on my deadline (Monday, eek!) and let’s hope that this weekend is a blend of both productivity and excitement.
P.S. Go Cardinals!!
Today marks the middle of our fifth and final week of the seminar portion of the semester. To say the least, these past weeks have been challenging, but extremely rewarding! I have become immensely passionate about the possibility of using technology to bring the humanities to the public in exciting and innovative ways. I am gaining a clearer vision about my research topic as each day passes, and it is thrilling to see how my classmates are developing their own research projects, too. I also began my job in the Scholl Center for American History and Culture, which is a great opportunity to not only work, but learn.
Outside of the seminar, I have been exploring Chicago as much as possible. I have had dinner at Millennium Park with my roommate, visited the Art Institute (and marveled at the Magritte exhibit), ridden the Ferris Wheel and explored Navy Pier, traveled to Andersonville to visit an incredible feminist bookstore, and shopped along Michigan Avenue. I buy my veggies on Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market and am working on getting stronger at my gym in Old Town. My only fear is that upon returning to Southern Illinois I will be so bored that I won’t know what to do with myself.
As this final week of the seminar comes to a close, I am in shock that today marks an official month passing here in Chicago. This past month has been a whirlwind, and it seems that as soon as I got a good grasp on the rhythm of the seminar, a new challenge (the research portion of the semester) has come to present itself. The good news is that I can feel myself growing as a scholar; each day, I start to take my research more seriously and can sense the value of my own work in the humanities. I am going into the research portion of this semester with motivation and enthusiasm.
Overall, I am trying to keep a good balance between seminar and research work, cultural experiences, and taking time to recharge. Although the official reason I came to Chicago is to study at the Newberry, I am increasingly seeing the value of expanding my education outside of the library. This weekend, for example, I am planning to see a dance interpretation of the Book of Job, which I could not be more stoked about. My eyes have been opened to so many new perspectives, ideas, and worlds, both inside and outside of the library. I have started to make a bucket list of all the things I want to accomplish here in the next two months; the goals on this list are as varied as visiting one new neighborhood every weekend to going to the top of the Sears Tower, from being able to lift more at the gym to producing a research project that will truly showcase who I am as a scholar.
In the near future, I have much to look forward to. The weekend is rapidly approaching (yay!), and next week I get to informally present my project ideas to the Newberry librarians (an opportunity which will provide much critical feedback). Next weekend, my friend Bomi will be coming to visit, which I could not be happier about–I need to reconnect with a fellow Bearcat!
I’m going to leave for now (work to do), but I will post pictures below that highlight some of the experiences I’ve had the past few weeks. The pictures may include my time at the Art Institute (paintings featured are by Dali and Picasso), a view from the lake near my apartment, me geeking out with a first edition copy of The Great Gatsby, and photos of my friends and I during one of our family dinners. In closing, I will try to be better about updating this thing!
P.S. If anybody is curious about what I’m doing with my research, just know for now that it involves Faulkner and Cowley. Here is a link to one of the best resources I’ve found so far (listening to clips here has been consuming my time for the past day): http://faulkner.lib.virginia.edu/
I’ve been here in Chicago for almost two weeks now, and I could not be having a better time. From an academic perspective, the seminar has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life as a student. The other students are insightful, respectful, and extremely interesting. I’m learning a lot from them about how other disciplines approach problems and think of solutions. I truly consider them all to be teachers as well as peers to me. The seminar has been largely focused on the digital humanities, which is an approach to the humanities utilizing technology to assist in scholarship and teaching. Although I have spent a large portion of my undergrad years focused on the content of the humanities, this seminar has given me the opportunity to explore the mediums we use in the humanities to convey information. When I came here, I was certain my research project would be a paper about literary modernism, but after just two weeks in the seminar, I am considering a more digital project. I am still nailing the details about the project down, but stay tuned for something (hopefully) progressive, and (definitely) fun! Additionally, I got a job at the Newberry working in the Scholl Center for American History and Culture, which I could not be more thrilled about. I will be starting my position early next week, which I think will be one of the most valuable learning opportunities I have here.
From a more personal perspective, I’m completely in love with Chicago. I have never felt healthier, happier, and more at peace with my life. I love my tiny (somewhat crappy) studio apartment. It might not be much (it lacks an air conditioner), but it feels like home. My roommate Nicole is the best roomie one could ask for–it is always nice to hear her perspectives on life, religion, Chicago, and anything! With my new friends, I have been able to explore the parks, restaurants, beaches, and even bars that Chicago (and specifically the Gold Coast) has to offer. Spending time at the library during the day is intellectually rewarding on a level I’ve never known, which makes sense because I am surrounded by some of the most interesting people in the scholarly community. But spending time out in the city in the evenings might be my favorite part of the seminar so far–the culture here is rich, diverse, and inspiring.
I’m going to end this post here because I’m sitting in my carrel (I have my own carrel!) and I need to be doing actual work. But, I will mention that my favorite discovery thus far in the Newberry stacks has been Malcolm Cowley’s personal copy of Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. Pictures may be below.. 🙂
P.S. I have made a realization: I actually like windy weather.