Responses to Conferences (4/15 & 4/17)

This week of class, the conferences were extremely awesome, for lack of a better description. While it having been so early in the day, my energy levels may have perceived to have been low, I was very mentally engaged. I was very pleased and awe struck with everyone’s topic and as Abby mentioned earlier it was definitely a unique experience to see the development of the entire class’ research ideas and topics. And to expound from that it was specifically unique to have gone through the same thing personally and have a sense of understanding when it came to the actual presentation.

Personally, I felt that my presentation was drastically different than the rest of the class’, and I hope that my efforts didn’t come off as under prepared. I decided to present an oral report combined with a handout and a visual of my data after reading Tufte’s arguments about presentations. I felt that my data was pretty complicated to break down, so it would’ve benefited the audience to have a visual representation of my data rather than use slides that wouldn’t be nearly as effective. In this sense I feel that I effectively demonstrated Tufte’s views on presentation.

Looking at the rest of the presentations over the last two class meetings, I really enjoyed Jeff’s work. I felt that all of the hard-work and extra time he put in outside of the estimated work load of this project was extremely evident. I really enjoyed the presentation, structure and organization of his research. The way that everything linked together made his work seem seamless and I quickly lost track of time as he continued to explain his research on Seeley. The most interesting connection was the one that linked the mentality of expansion and Seeley’s The Expansion of England. Although the dates were inaccurate in the presentation, this did not hinder my interpretations of the data and topic.

Tim’s evaluation and research on his sister, Dominica, was also very unique and interesting to learn about. It was interesting to see all 800+ volumes presented graphically and visually. The discussion of the reviews and patterns of her as a reader really embraced the concepts of understanding things quantitatively through data, and also in actuality by interviewing Dominica and using her book reviews as data. One thing that I mentioned after his presentation was the inclusion of her background of being home schooled. I feel that home schooling is still prevalent as a practice in America, but majority of the audience might not have experiences with it. A effective analysis and description of the home schooling background will add a plethora of support to his research.

Brie’s research on Virginia Woolf and her connections to Women’s Suffrage really put Woolf into a whole new perspective for me. This semester I have read one of Woolf’s earlier texts To the Lighthouse, and at that point I was only aware of her personal problems, and depression, per a description from my professor. Brie was able to shine a new light on the activist role of Virginia Woolf and present her as a Women’s activist. I really liked the explanation that Brie gave about how one does not have to be physically there to be an activist but by writing the words down and distributing them to the masses, Woolf was doing something; an activist.

John’s work on Moby-Dick told me a lot about the author, Herman Melville. Melville had a much different life than I knew, and I was only aware that he, just as F. Scott Fitzgerald, died believing he was a failure. A literary joke. This is a phenomenon that I wanted to learn more about myself and having John present this was extremely interesting. Like what makes an unsuccessful book popular later on in the future. I feel that John effectively described this occurrence and his ngram on Melville really helped to convey this point. 

And last but not least Abby’s work Using the What Middletown Read Database to Explore Women’s Dictionary Reading, was really unique. I was interested in her topic because I had never heard anything like it before. It was interesting to see that the more women educated themselves the more single they made themselves. There was a direct correlation between women having spouses and level of education/occupation. This is not a new trend and I believe at that time men were threatened by an educated woman. It was also not the social norm and very radical for that time. I wonder if some of the same patterns are prevalent in this time period, and maybe not so much with school teaching (which is now dominated by women (I believe)) but maybe other occupations like a female CEO or some other high power positions.

There is so much more to say about all of the presentations, but  I just wanted to highlight the parts that really stuck with me after the two class meetings. I wish the best of luck to everyone as they complete their final drafts and hope that the papers are just as interesting and thought provoking as the presentations were. I can honestly say that I have never done anything like this before, and actually presenting my own ideas like this was way different than a science fair presentation. This actually made me feel legitimate and original. If I had the chance to do it again with another topic choice, I would do it all over!

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One thought on “Responses to Conferences (4/15 & 4/17)

  1. I really appreciated your comment about including some background about homeschooling and what role this might play in her experience as a reader; thank you for pointing that out! Also, although you might feel like the research you’re doing has been more difficult than expected, and is not yielding the results you thought it would, I think you’re well on your way to a great paper. For me, I also feel like the research I’ve done, I would do differently if I were given a second shot at it. I guess that’s part of the learning process! Nice work.

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