Challenge Journal #2

An essential piece of my capstone project on free will and determinism will be gathering information from different “experts” on the various subtopics I will discuss. As of right now, I am planning on doing this in an informal, informational interview setting. A few of the subtopics are basic background, religious viewpoints and opinions, and racial factors. Within the first subtopic I plan to interview a Michigan faculty member who has studied topics like these in the past. For the religious viewpoints, I plan on interviewing a Buddhism professor as well as a Christian pastor. Finally, for the subject of how race affects feelings of free will and determinism, I will have to interview someone who is not white.

In my gateway project, one of the experiments I considered was presenting Stephen King with a letter and an interview request (I knew it wouldn’t happen, but I also knew that this wouldn’t be my fully realized project). Regardless of who I interview, whether it is Stephen King or a Buddhism professor, the most important part of an interview is being prepared. While I did not execute the interview, I did execute the preinterview work for my theoretical interview with King. This is going to be of great use to me as I interview the people involved with my current undertaking. It was useful practice in developing questions that are not only interesting but also can lead to and play off of each other to keep conversation smooth. Additionally, I learned the value of putting myself in their position and asking myself the questions to ensure they weren’t too elementary or off putting in any way. Finally, one of the most important things I learned from the prep for King’s interview was to give the interviewee a purpose. This is why, amongst other obvious reasons, I did not pursue this as my gateway project further: he had no purpose to ever do an interview with me. I need to ensure that by doing interviews with me, the people in my current project are feeling as if they are furthering research in a topic they are interested in, or feel as if, for one reason or another, they are somehow internally or externally benefitting from giving me their time and knowledge.

2 thoughts to “Challenge Journal #2”

  1. This is interesting. One of the many tips I’ve heard about interviewing is to make it flows naturally like a conversation and I totally agree. We don’t want people we’re interviewing feels like they’re answering a questionnaire. But at what point can we differentiate an interview from a conversation? I never thought about this before but maybe interview is a form of communication, which is the weirdest thing for me right now like how??

  2. Hey Jacob,

    Interviews can be tricky. When I interned with Midwestern Gothic, I regularly wrote interviews to authors, which wasn’t always easy – there’s only so many boilerplate questions you can get away with, and coming up with something original and interesting sometimes took a lot of energy out of me. I had the author’s collection of works to work off of in forming my questions, though, whereas you’re dealing with questions that are much more abstract in nature. I don’t envy your position, but it sounds like you have your technique and approach worked out, so I’m sure you’ll succeed. You clearly value the time and perspective of your interviewees, which goes a long way in creating a productive dialogue that’s more likely to yield useful results.

    I would ask how you plan to approach your prospective interviewees about this opportunity, as you say that you want them to feel as if they’re meaningfully contributing to an academic exploration of the topic. So how do you pose that question? How do you express to them both your authority in conducting this interview as well as a respect for their own authority and perspective?

    Hope it all goes well!

Leave a Reply