The Student Project has stood out to me as something that has challenged our ability to both think critically and originally. Our brief was to discover something unbeknown to the larger audiences that historical scholarship traditionally caters to, and do our best to frame our research in a transnational and global framework for further analysis. At least, that’s how I’ve come to understand it, but although extant debate still exists on the requirements of defining a truly ‘global history’, the transnational component of our work is clearly expressed by the variety of stories and lived experiences we all brought to class, and how that reflected on the research behind our projects.
For Izzy’s presentation ‘How has the Rhodes Scholarship influenced an academic study of race?’, I had several general thoughts on the Rhoades Scholarship in a post-colonial studies sense, namely why is there a retention of the title ‘Rhoades Scholar’, and why is this an aspirational acclaim? (Otherwise, why hasn’t the title been changed/replaced?) I’m curious to further explore the reception of the Commonwealth in its early days and how it started to move past colonial connections to the worst parts of the British Empire. Some other thoughts I had were thus what are the extant rhetorical problems with the retention of the title today?
Following that question orientated around post-colonial studies, a thought I had after viewing Olivia’s presentation – other than my serious realisation that I’ve never read Moby Dick! – is does transnational wailing deserve to be a separate entity to colonial and postcolonial studies? Especially when being placed in a study of gender?
Luke’s presentation left me with an interesting question on how we place slums in the modern model of a living environment that we are all accustomed to: The slums having a ‘functioning’ – is this as in the day to day functioning of a collective of people within a densely populated ‘suburban-esque’ area – are we challenging the suburban, the root unit of socio-economic value of a populated area? Is the issue that slums have been depicted within, or in opposition to, a metropolitan structure (inner-city/central; suburban/developed; exurban/fringe)?
Grant’s presentation touched on something I had considered in my previous bouts of research in the module, that is how intellectuals and institutions relate the narrative of the history they produce to that of the state. When looking at Wendell L. Willkie’s use of One World Utopia, and global self-determinism for all peoples, I immediately thought of the Harvard Department of Social Relations; Modernization Theory; and the great rush to historicizing foreign policy by the United States from Monroeism through Hooverism to Reaganism. As far as Willkie’s use of Shu’s term and the history, and its use in Liu’s Tokens of Exchange, could we say that historic translations are highly reflective of the time of the author? The cultural background and influences on the author are also extant in the work, can historians – and translators – avoid being disingenuous when trying to create legacy works in Intellectual History? Is Liu being a positivist with her statement on the process of translation?
Adam’s presentation reminded me of my early fascination with the background history of WW2. Much of the focus in a student’s early years of studying the history of WW2 centers around the war itself and the destructive period: what caused it, what happened, and what did it change? The history of post-war Germany is also fascinating and extremely important for establishing the period that would become The Cold War, though I feel that has largely obscured discourse on the dissolution of the Third Reich’s hierarchy in the years following the war. I watched Valkyrie a long time ago and even wrote one of my first ‘essay’ style papers on the consequences of such a daring operation for German society internally, and externally to the Allies (it wasn’t very good at all, even for a fifteen-year old’s effort). The main question I have as a takeaway form this presentation is something I heard some while ago in a critique of the film: The ‘July 44’ plotters were concerned about saving Germany, true, but their desperation was out of fear for the fact that Germany’s military position was unattainable and they were in an unwinnable war – where did their political attitude rest? Did they see Nazism as a failed civil project (Despite it obviously having a major economic boon in the late 1930s)? How does the attitude of ‘weren’t they still Nazis?’ impact the historical importance of the ‘July 44’ – and the numerous others I may add – attempt on Hitler’s life and the desire of these men to end the Second World War?
These are some of the questions that stood out for me in discerning similarities to my own research and historic interests. When reflecting on my own work and research project, I am considering – more than anything – the wording of how I express my objectivity without being objectively conclusive. In other words, I know what I want to communicate on why consumer culture – in the context of the late twentieth century and the period of 1959 to 1986 as exemplar – deserves to be recognised more robustly as a true ‘global history’. But, I’m just not entirely sure how to write it to be satisfactory whilst also leaving a sense of desire to pursuit the topic further in the way I ascribe.