The Art of Prep: Training the Mind for Research

Knowing that I don’t have a backup plan, I sent an email to my festival of choice, asking if they are willing to participate. I was unsure to ask ((Would this be jumping the gun?)), but I did anyway, just to know whether my subject is interested.

Now solidly in week four of the class, I feel . . . odd. This class is perhaps the strangest I have ever taken, given our diversity of backgrounds. Here. Let me explain.

Things that make me feel odd:

  • Calling myself a scientist. As a grad student in a literature MA program, I have not once thought of my craft as scientific. Reading literature is an emotional task, and we are rarely asked to separate our feelings from our research. Analyzing literature is commonly accepted as a subjective art. But in this class, we discuss minimizing the subjective, putting our ‘self’ away to further understand our subject’s reality through his or her own eyes. It’s strange to me. I’ve never been ‘scientific’ in any of my practices.
  • Being on the West Coast. I have lived in the SF Bay Area my whole life, and I am embedded in my own culture. My father has always told me I “live in a bubble,” and I don’t fight it. Reading Cracker Circuit and other various articles connected to the south, I am aware I am relating only through the imagination, whereas my peers might have some personal experience.
  • Being Unsure In General. I have a small idea of the finished product: interviews, archival material, and transcripts. But somehow, with the reading and the deep exploration of ethnography, I feel thrown off. The articles show there’s far more to it, yet at the same time, I have conducted, transcribed, and approved audio-recorded interviews before. I have worked at the Office of Institutional Research, where I learned the immense importance of unbiased questions. Perhaps I’m just psyching myself out.

My current plan is to get a confirmed interest (or disinterest) in my festival of my choice, so I can launch into research and questions. Considering my subject is at an Orthodox Church, I see no harm in earning trust by going to services and getting a sense for their spirit, similar to what I had done for my ethnography assignment.

As the semester progresses, I hope to be able to call myself a scientist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *