Assignment 3: Questions and Questioning"Jesus says I'm Welcome" is a spiritual, sung by "Uncle" Bradley Eberhard, a work-crippled, 66-year-old African American. He worked more than a quarter of a century in railroad work gangs and is still proud of his role as singer when the men were laying track. Now toothless and a semi-invalid, he receives a $1 monthly dole from Highlands County.What we are doing in this unit is attempting to get you to understand and evaluate the ways that you work with primary documents—why you go to certain places, why you linger over certain texts, why you quickly by-pass others. These instincts that we have help determine what types of scholars we will or will not be when dealing with primary documents.
So for your last assignment, first I would like you to spend a lot of time thinking about and then posting about yourself as a "Constructor":
- Look over the places that you were drawn to in your searching and explore why you think you were most interested in these places.
- Reflect on what your fellow VAer saw in your blog and list.
- Label your own lens for viewing this primary material and/or your method of searching.
- For example, did you visit most and/or linger most within places that are obviously dealing with class? Like, did you stop and wonder what type life the Turpentine employees are living when listening to their blues songs?
- Or are you most interested in issues of gender? Did you find yourself listening to a particular woman tell her story about living through the Depression again and again?
- Or were you more interested in certain aspects of race, etc., etc.?
- Bottom line: show your consciousness about your own often unarticulated predispositions about what parts of human experience you might include or exclude in any history you wrote.
Finally, imagine that you are to conduct research in the archive, and construct the research question that you will aim to answer.
- You have clicked through the archive more or less extensively.
- You have raised your own interests ("lens") to the level of consciousness through your own reflection and the comments of others.
- Now, what question would you like to answer through the resources in the archive?
- Your question should be about an important issue or topic, one you think will be valuable for others to know about.
- Your question should be as focused and direct as possible.
- Your question should be specific enough that when answering you will automatically be able to discard some of the sections of the site but not too narrow that there is only one place to look.
- After formulating your question, spend some time (a paragraph or two) explaining the reasons behind your construction of that particular question.
We end the course with a question -- a good question, a thoughtful question, one linked to your passion -- which is where history writing begins.