Research and ethos

I am truly pumped to delve into my subject, the nature of ‘being good’ and talent in the performing arts realm, but I’m at a bit of an impasse in regards to research. It’s difficult to devise a paper championing the validity of everyone’s talent and skill when you also have cultivate your own ethos.

I am currently torn between two different styles of writing for this project. One style is the more objective, news-story based style of the Atlantic. The other style mimics the creative nonfiction-y, less structured style of pieces found in The New Yorker. Both have a number of pros and cons and both would be a lot of fun to write. With the New Yorker style article, I could derive more of the piece from my own experiences. But, in a weird way, I feel like that’s kind of cheating. In all of the hard hitting, longstanding articles I have read that have commented on current social issues there are a variety of sources utilized, rounding out the argument. Yet, shouldn’t my experiences be enough? Isn’t that what I’m arguing anyway: that you should be able to feel valid in your art without lots of awards and accolades? This train of thought has me feeling kind of like this:


I have had some success with finding more empirical articles thanks to the resources at the music library. Turns out there’s a pretty large amount of academic journals dedicated to the study and practice of music! However, this could limit my audience, something I’m particularly concerned about. I’ve also had some success with TED talks, which I did not expect. I’ve never thought of using a video as a source for a paper, but I’ve found certain talks on genius and creativity  in a general sense that correspond nicely with my topic.

As I begin to outline (my favorite thing to do), I hope to clarify the style I’m going to emulate for this project. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with my own funky, pseudo – academic, emotionally riveting type of article that will convey my exact thoughts and feelings.



Emily Cotten

Emily Cotten is a sophomore Vocal Performance major at the University of Michigan. She hails from North Carolina and enjoys reading, writing, and blasting opera hits in her car while driving down the highway.

2 thoughts to “Research and ethos”

  1. Emily, just a quick comment to begin. If I am understanding correctly, both the New Yorker and the Atlantic publish creative nonfiction-type articles. And from my perspective, I think a creative nonfiction piece would really allow you get out your personal experiences while simultaneously arguing your view on talent. I definitely think your experiences are enough to formulate a credible article. After all, you have been studying the subject for multiple years and spent time in London performing! I don’t think you will have any problems with readers doubting your argument. I think I am going to write a creative nonfiction as well, so collaboration will be very helpful in the coming weeks.

  2. Emily, I enjoyed hearing your contemplation between which magazine you should use. I think your point for publishing in the New Yorker is totally valid. Your experiences are enough and I think it will make for a great piece of work. The topic you have chosen to write about almost requires the majority of your experience considering the original source was an email about you. I think incorporating the TED talks into your work will be great. I live watching them and think it will add variety in your research. I also don’t think you should be worried about the intended audience. If it’s a piece about the concept of “good enough” then using your personal experience as somewhat of a case study is totally fine. I think everyone will be able to relate in some way.

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