Hello blogosphere! I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a new blog post directly from my account, so a warm greeting to all of those out there in Sweetland blog-land. My class was recently tasked with synthesizing all of our research we have gathered so far for our capstone project and then taking a crack at writing an introduction for our project (the real drafts are due post-Spring break, eep!). After diving into both of these tasks and creating a really really shitty first draft of an introduction (there were spots in my intro where I actually said “need more info” in parentheses), I have definitely come away with a greater knowledge of the things I need to research further and the overall deadlines I need to set for myself moving forward.
To give some background, I have done a majority of my research for my project on prominent women who attended the University of Michigan. A lot of this research has been focused on “the first women,” which, appropriately named, are the first female students to ever attend the University of Michigan. I feel as though I have a pretty well-rounded knowledge of what it was like to be the very first women to attend the University, but outside of that I do have a ton of other questions. A lot of these questions revolve around the experiences of women at the University between the years of 1900-present day. I know, I know. That is a HUGE time period that I have left unexplored in my research of University of Michigan women. I think a lot of that is due to my natural interest in people who are named “first” in accomplishing something. But regardless of my affinities, this introduction draft really opened my eyes to an entire section of history that I have been blissfully ignoring to research.
So moving forward, I am going to dig into the history of women in the 20th century. I have already done a little bit of research into the University’s first black Homecoming queen in the year 1968, and although that is a good start, I know I need to push my research further in order to fill my current gap in University history. I think one of the first places I will start is by learning more about the women who formed the Michigan League and what it felt like for women during that time to not be allowed into the Michigan Union building. Their experience is something I put in my introduction draft, but did not have enough information to fully uncover the impact the women of the Michigan League had on the University culture. In addition, I am interested in researching more about what it was like to be a woman, specifically a woman of color, during the Civil Rights Movement at the University of Michigan. I think Opal Bailey’s difficult, yet impactful experience as being the first black Homecoming queen during this time period speaks to a greater need for exploration into this historical era.
In addition, I found myself while writing my draft introduction asking a ton of questions about the experiences of more present-day students. Although I will be doing a lot of first-hand research on current day students through my podcast, I think it may be important to understand some of the diverse experiences of female students throughout the past few years. The Michigan Daily will be a great source for this information as they have a ton of op-ed and opinion piece content from women and women of color on campus. The newspaper also recently released a “Women Issue” a couple weeks ago that I am excited to explore.
In regards to my patronus Charles Baxter, I think it might be good to spend some time delving into his work over Spring break in order to better understand storytelling and characterization. Although my podcast and investigative bibliographies are non-fiction, I ultimately would like to tell a cohesive story of what it means to be a female student at the University of Michigan. Sharpening my storytelling skills will only help me reach this goal.