Navigating the Constant Stream

It is difficult to grasp just how many thousands and thousands of movies exist in the world even as a film student. I remember one of the first History of Film classes I took and looked at the list of movies we would be watching for the semester, excited to discuss some of my favorites. Well, I hadn’t seen any of the movies that were on the list. Scratch that, I hadn’t even heard of any of the movies that were on the list. How could that be?? New to the major, this unfamiliarity certainly startled me awake, and the feeling of being more or less overwhelmed continued through the semester (let alone the entire year) as references and allusions were made to movies all over the world, all that were unknown to me.

Cinema is a vast, vast world. I am coming to know just how vast it is once again as I gather research for my repurposing project, and my list of movies I need to watch keeps expanding. Traditional academic research makes up a good part of the work that still needs to be done, mostly reading historical texts and analyses. But as mentioned, I am increasingly discovering how many recent movies I need to familiarize myself with, one’s I haven’t already seen, in order to make connections between neorealism and current film trends. As always, I am excited to see what a new movie holds, but unfortunately this is no timely task. I really will have to make sure I am setting aside enough time to be able to watch these movies that are crucial to my project, without getting too overwhelmed.

Lost & Lost & And Maybe Found

So I’ve been wandering a little aimlessly with the direction of my Repurposing project. I’ve thought of narrowing down my topic a little too much, and lost my exigence. But luckily, once I heard feedback from Naomi, I felt a little more back on track again and regained my focus on my project.

There is so much reading I’d like to do. So far, I’ve read definitions of what it means to “be country” or what counts as “country music” in both a traditional dictionary sense, and what our culture has made of it. This has involved articles analyzing the country music genre and it’s progression over time, people’s personal opinions of country music in chat forums, and articles on various country music artists.

I’ve found quite a few…interesting things. For starters, some people have some real strong opinions about country. One person said, “If all country were instrumental I could tolerate it. Perhaps even enjoy some of it, if administered in small doses. But that god-awful, screechy, nasally, twangy, wailing often accompanied by poor grammar and a heavy “country” or southern accent is like nails on a chalkboard…” It went on and on and on. This person wasn’t the only one to find country music so ‘repulsive,’ although they had nicer ways to put it. Someone else who actually favored country said something that I found to be particularly interesting: “…I’ve been laughed at and ridiculed since first grade for listening to country music.” So far, I want my Repurposing project to be a narrative investigative journalist piece, so I think it will be really meaningful to weave in some of these quotes. Perhaps not specifically these two. Just some ideas…  

As for the articles I came across, I won’t go into detail about them in this blog post, but I noticed a few quotes that were particularly interesting.

What Is and Isn’t “Real” Country Music (http://www.cmt.com/news/1708291/what-is-and-isnt-real-country-music/)

“Well, we know country was pure somewhere back there.

Wasn’t it? Not really. Country music is replete with complaints about how bad it is now and how good it was then. The problem is that “now” keeps inching forward and turning into “then.””

The Problem With “Country for People Who Don’t Like Country” 

(http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2015/06/kacey_musgraves_new_album_pageant_material_reviewed_the_follow_your_arrow.html)

“Country also comes pre-indicted as the soundtrack to the “toggle switch between ‘bland nothingness’ and ‘racist hatred’ ” that is whiteness, as Nell Irvin Painter argued last weekend in the New York Times. It’s a catch-22 that a lot of white Americans long to wriggle out of, whether through grave historical penance or blithe wishful thinking—and many of them consider it no help that those other white people insist on continuing to listen to that awful country music.”

“No wonder then that when a figure like Kacey Musgraves comes along, singing gay-positive, narrowness-negative country songs (let alone a figure like the promising young country singer Mickey Guyton, who is an even rarer sighting as a black woman), an unsustainable burden falls upon their shoulders.”

New Sources For Repurposing

In terms of the progression of my research, I have had a productive experience in finding new, investigative sources for repurposing. As this point in time, I am looking through the rhetoric that’s presented by both online blog and news sites, as to how The Butler may have indeed misrepresented the social standing and events of the Civil Rights Movement in 20th century America. Although most of my research focuses on non-numerical information, such as research reports from American professors regarding the dangerous historical inaccuracies presented in The Butler, I have also found myself searching for varying quantitative information for my repurposing project as well.

According to the various labor statistics models I’ve researched, the Real Median Household Income for Whites during this 1967-2012 period sits at $57,009, while African Americans earned $33,321 over this same period of time. Those who point to this income gap of nearly $24,000 less earned by African American households in this span have made questionable arguments regarding why exactly such an income disparity exists, often pointing to a perceived lack of motivation or effort on the part of the African American workforce nationwide. I believe, as a whole, that the rhetoric presented in The Butler makes similarly precarious arguments as a film.

As it relates to the various levels of research I’ve been tasked with performing in the past, I would say that this particular research process has been more about me heavily focusing on blogs and online magazines, such as sources like Rolling Stone Magazine, rather than those “strictly academic” types of sources. I am incredibly excited to go outside of the box throughout the repurposing process, and as a whole would like to stray away from the more academically inclined sources, and gain a broader perspective on the general public opinion on The Butler.

Research Can Be Fun?

Researching for my repurposing proposal is proving to be a challenge. I am passionate about my topic; however, I have never experienced writing without certain restrictions. Meaning when I take on an academic paper I am very certain in where I have to look for research and how to go about it. Since I am writing an advice column, the majority of the information stems from my personal experience traveling abroad. With that being said the research is by no means traditional in looking on the classic Proquest or Google Scholar.
However the extent of my research has begun researching advice columns and how they are set up. I have done a lot of online research and found some reputable examples, however, since my publication will be in Teen Vogue, I have also been browsing through magazines of a similar genre to get a sense of their appearance and length.
Beyond the physical layout of the advice column, I am beginning to research based on the questions I am asked by the prospective abroad students. For example, the topic of packing is a big topic of confusion for students planning going abroad. My research for this topic is mainly derived from sites like pinterest and various travel blogs. Not only will I be able to compare my work and experience to others, but I will be able to connect my readers with other sites where they can do more research on their own based on my advice. Specifically for the packing topic, Here is an example of a link I can connect my readers to for a more in depth packing list from her campus.com. Click on the photo to check it out!

Packing List

I think the most difficult part of this research and project is differentiating my work from all the others out there. There are many people that have shared their abroad experience, but what will be my challenge is setting my advice apart from others. I am excited to continue looking for more research and hearing the questions asked by future study abroaders!

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:

fantastic-mr-fox5

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.

(Maybe)

 

So much reading, so little time

Ah yes.

Research.

How has it been going, you may ask?

It has been very time consuming, to say the least.

For my repurposing project, I am creating a video on the ailment that is epilepsy. As a result, the research I am doing has been divided into two categories: theme and form. For the theme, I have to investigate what epilepsy is, how others perceive the disease, and common misconceptions. Despite the technological advances of the world today, we still have not uncovered everything there is to know about the disease; in fact, there is still a lot more we are attempting to understand. With this being a disease that is very much an enigma to the scientific community, there has been an insurmountable amount of research done on this topic. A fair amount of these research papers often come up as traditional academic research, most often in the form of lab reports.

Long, technical, scientific, dry lab reports.

tired

Fortunately, I don’t have to peruse through lab reports for the entirety of my project. This is where the second aspect of my research comes in, where I analyze the form I want to create my project around. Since I am deciding to repurpose a memoir into a satirical informational/news video, I have been able to watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and pass it off as doing research. So, I consider my project topic to be exciting in that regard.

With regards to any difficulties I anticipate to face while I am researching, I currently cannot think of any that cannot be overcome. One concern could be the quality of the materials I utilize for my project, but I am not too worried about this.

Personally, I am excited to learn about creating videos. I have not had the chance in my academic career to do a video project all on my own, so figuring out how to create a video to my liking will be a challenge I look forward to facing. I believe that learning how to create videos like this will help broaden my perspective on media and writing through a creative and fun medium.

Research for Repurposing

As I get down to the research, it is basically what I expected it to be. In fact, in many ways, it has been more interesting than I expected. My project hinges on my presentation of a topic through different types of rhetoric. I want to use my own voice and perspective, and I want to use research and data to backup my claims and add depth and ethos to my argument and perspective.

The research aspect has been a bit tricky at times, as finding information online about housing and incomes and rent prices is shaky and usually lacking credibility. New York City is vast and populous, and finding information on specific aspects of institutions within it, and especially in specific regions, can prove to be very difficult. As I try to find information on housing and incomes on 15th Street, I have come to realize that the task may be impossible to complete in a wholesome way,  although I have found some useful tricks in researching. I know of popular apartment rental or purchasing sights that I can reference, and I can easily find information and statistics on all public housing in Manhattan, for instance, and still use this research to contrast the average prices of other types of privatized housing at least around 15th Street. I have even found projects done by students within the city, on gentrification and the like, and have traced those projects to their sources, then used those sources for my own research.
The major roadblock up to this point has been deciding on a writing approach and intended rhetoric so as to ensure that the piece does not try too hard to be something it cannot be, like a fully comprehensive investigative article, but also allow it to be a powerful and provocative piece. I have struggled with this so far, but I know that with continued writing, I will be able to move forward until I reach a sound and perspective that feels right to me, and hits home (hopefully) with the reader. I will have a very rough draft done soon, and will go from there, reviewing it for its use of research and perspective, and what drives the argument and provocative nature of it. The more I write, however, the better I feel. It is coming together, I think! 

All of the frustrations!

So, I’m trying to research my topic. Trying to find a model for class.

This isn’t going very well. I do love this topic and am still very interested in it, but going over my past sources has reminded me just how difficult this topic is to research.

I did find one article that, though unrelated to my specific topic, is similar as far as a possible direction I can take my project. LitRPG: Exploration of a New Genre is exactly what it sounds like. The writer, Nathan Woodbury, is using the article as a means of exploring a new sub-genre of science fiction. He explains the background of the genre, lists elements stories of the genre tend to include, and gives examples. It’s very opinion based, which he clarifies is primarily because it’s so new of a topic.

Now I know those of you reading this are probably like “Hold up, Emily, I thought you were writing a short story? What’s going on here?”. A couple of very good questions.
The way I see it I have 2.5 options:
1) Explore the various ways technology can be found within the high fantasy context in a more ‘op-ed’ way than I previously wrote on the topic. This could involve me either using examples I used previously (The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, The Beka Cooper Trilogy by Tamora Pierce) or I could still keep the more creative side and write up my own examples.
1.5) Write a series of character vignettes, each one set in the same world but at different periods and regions within the world. This would entail at least 3, but most likely no more than 5, very short stories exhibiting various characters as a way of showing the world to the reader without giving only descriptions.
2) Write a single short story, as planned, with focus on the plot (tbd) and less focus on making sure the use of tech come across to the reader as the main point. However, most of the examples I have found span over entire series of novels and technology is usually a reference to a very background element not at all central to the story. I’m unsure if I’d be able to even include references in such a short medium without pushing the topic and destroying the story. If I were to continue down the short story path, it would likely be split into two parts: the first would take place in an earlier time in the world to set a base of world history and give room for tech growth mention sin the second part of the story which would take place in the present time of the world. That is the only way I see this avenue working out.

I’m definitely leaning towards a combination of 1 and 1.5. Using an op-ed as a preface to what I’m trying to achieve will help make my project more accessible to a wider audience, and using character vignettes will allow a more successful exploration while still keeping the creative element I originally intended.

Phew. Glad I could think that out a bit. Now to make this post even longer.

google trends
Disappointing search trend.

Most of the sources I can find, aside from the prior mentioned article, are a couple years old and not the most credible. Meaning they’re from personal blog sites or lesser known forums. This forum thread from 2012 is sort of relevant. At least it shows that someone else in the world is thinking about a semblance of this topic. Unlike Google Trends which shows exactly 2 spikes in the search term “tech in fantasy”. The first in August 2013 right before I wrote the essay in my senior year, and the other this month while I’m searching for everything all over again. This is all very motivational.

 

I Can’t Read It All

As I started researching my topic more, I have realized that it is more of a popular culture issue than a well-researched, academic issue.  My revisited original sources are news articles or personal opinion blogs. While they quote credible, notable people and the stories are undoubtedly true, there are not a lot of researched, proven studies on the effects of dress codes. I can see correlations, as many of the articles I found also have, but nothing concrete. I was hoping that since my original paper, something like this had been published, but I haven’t been able to find it.

 

B5328693_origut because my new media and new audience allows for it, I began looking at google image results from searching “dress codes in schools.”  Diagrams and powerpoint screenshots came up and I have found the results very compelling. One of the most interesting things about this generic search is the subcategories that came up with the results. One of the two subcategories was “girls.” There was no “boys” category and female figures were used on the diagrams about 70% of the time. In both subcategories, but in the “girls” category especially, were the most shocking pictures that show the stigmas and effects of dress codes. This visual information alone makes me feel like I will be able to find new yet equally substantive sources as my original paper.

 

Most of the new sources I found are similar to my original sources, which makes me feel comfortable and familiar with the material. I was excited to find an article from The Guardian that was published September 7th of this year. And another source from only 5 days ago from The Today Show. They are going to be great sources for my project, but I can’t help but feel sad every time I find a new source to add to my list. The more I find on this topic means the more prevalent it is in this country. Although it would make my project harder, having less sources to choose from would make me feel better for the status of education for girls across the United States. It is also saddening that every source I find links to a dozen similar stories of the same misconduct in the name of dress codes.

 

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If anything, I am overwhelmed with sources and I am having trouble narrowing down which ones to use. I don’t have the time to read everything that I find. Maybe one of the reasons for this is because I also often get sucked in and caught up following infinite links to other articles. Multiple times, I have found myself forgetting about the articles in a research context and reading them out of personal interest. While this is an issue that is probably good for my project because I am genuinely interested in the topic, it has wasted a good amount of time so far. During this beginning stage, there are worse problems to have. For now, I’m okay with busying myself finding too many sources.

Blog 4: This Isn’t Your Average Mirlyn Catalog Quest

I think it’s safe to say that for most college students, research isn’t the most intriguing thing. Speaking for myself, any way, I 100 percent stand by this claim. When I think of research for my past courses at Michigan, I’m haunted by images of me staring at my laptop screen scrolling through the Mirlyn catalog for what seems like 18+ hours, only to find one or two “scholarly” articles that maybe have a sentence pertaining to my argument or topic at hand-which I usually deem “good enough” (oops.) I’m now wondering aloud if this sounds familiar for anyone else, or if I just need a serious crash course in effective researching? Definitely both, but more than likely, more the latter. REGARDLESS of my own struggles of traditional research, I was pleased to discover that starting the research for my repurposing project was a lot more interesting and I found much greater success than I have in my past research quests.

Drawing from what I plan to do with my repurposing project, one of the sections of my Elite Daily modeled piece (“Life”) generally requires more academic background than other sections of Elite Daily (which require pretty much-none.) I’m focusing this piece on the benefits and drawbacks of using humor to cope, so my initial research started by simply googling “humor and coping” in google scholar and the general search engine. I found several different articles ranging from Psychology Today to articles written in the PyscINFO database at the University of Michigan. Most of these articles talked about the benefits of using humor, but where they led me is what made me rethink the original layout of this piece. I was led to various popular publications such as TIME, Forbes and People, all of which talked about various entertainment figures and how their use of comedy/ humor in their live’s have come with drawbacks.

Based off the wealth of both academic and popular culture background I was able to extract on the subject, I’ve decided to model this piece as a numbered PRO and CON list of using humor as a coping mechanism. Based on academic research, experience of respected entertainment figures and my own dependency on humor as it has both helped and hindered me,  I feel like I have a lot to draw from in the creation and legitimizing of my piece. That being said, I may consider breaking the piece up into two different parts (1 piece= the pros and 1 piece= the cons) of using humor to cope. There’s a lot I’ve found on the topic, and I feel like I have a lot to say. It might be more effective and cohesive with the Elite Daily style to break it up, so it doesn’t appear so obtuse and long-winded.

Looking at my other piece, The Five Types of Funny-Guys You’ll Date in Your Lifetime I’m excited to use my own experience as well as the experience of others to create something that is hopefully super relatable for most women. I wonder if I’ll be able to get enough input/ dating stories from other women to make sure it’s as relatable as it can be, but I’m excited to see where my conversations on the topic go with my friends, peers and family.

Courtesy of quotesgram.com
Courtesy of quotesgram.com