Wow! Turning in an assignment that I’ve worked on for a while is always slightly unnerving – is it really done? Have I looked at the page so many times that I didn’t notice a formatting mistake? Did I accidentally delete a footnote and am now going to get charged with plagiarism and academic misconduct?! Though it’s hard to let go of a paper when turning it in, I’m looking forward to moving ahead on the final project.

The short essay took the most amount of research I’ve ever done for a project. I checked out five books from the library (3 of which I had special ordered!) and read countless more online, along with journal articles, theses, and edited volumes. Thankfully, since my essay concentrated on historiography, I was able to focus on introductions in most of these books. Many of the scholars pointed out the history of their field and their aims to change the scholarship in the first few pages. It was so interesting to begin to notice cross-references between authors and realize the timeline of historiography.

My final essay topic was to survey historiographical developments in subaltern studies, postcolonial theory, and gender studies to understand developments in the comparative history of India and Ireland and encourage greater integration of women’s experiences into the master postcolonial narrative. This last part, exploring women’s experiences, was the most interesting to me and what I hope to take a deeper dive into during the project. I ended my research by reading ‘World History and the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality’ by Merry Wiesner-Hanks and it was fascinating to learn that as both have made great strides in telling broader and more nuanced stories, world history and gender history have ignored one another and both fields lack intersectionality. I realized I had a misconception of transnational history, and other fields like postcolonial, subaltern, and gender history as being revolutionary and inclusive of one another’s advancements. In reality, it is easy to get hyperfocused on one’s specialty and forget to intersect disciplines, and even stay up to date with other fields.

Moving forward, Natalie Zemon Davis’ put it well that ‘the direct exchange among scholars across boundaries is one of the best paths to discovery in our globalized latter-day times’. I aim to take my research beyond its typical frame of reference to ensure I intersect paths. I am also beginning my research ASAP, as this project is twice as long as the essay, and I have more tabs open than can count!

Essay Reflection and Moving Forward

One thought on “Essay Reflection and Moving Forward

  • April 14, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Avery!

    I just listened to your presentation so thought I would look back to where you were prior to it to see how your thought process has progressed.

    I really liked your reflections on your short essay and how you have taken the feedback on it to go further on concepts of the violent/non-violent in terms of hunger strikes and what kind of connotations specifically for women in specific socio-cultural contexts the idea of starving oneself has. This was so interesting to me! Specifically for women in India, this strangely made me think of the concept of Sati – or widow burning – where Hindu women used to burn themselves on their husbands funeral pyre. I wonder how cultures that already have practises in which women ‘sacrifice’ themselves plays into what sort of symbolism is related to hunger strikes and this idea of martyrdom. How this differs to what connotations hunger strikes had in Ireland – a form of exerting control over their bodies rather than sacrifice perhaps? – is really interesting and I’d love to read what analysis you make! Good luck!

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