As I stated in my first blog post, after a meeting with Dr. David Cline, I felt as if he would be the best fit for my thesis advisor. I believe that he will be invested in my success, and provided useful information on how to move closer to a decision between my two topics. One of his recommendations included finding a dissertation I had stumbled upon when writing an article-length paper on the counterculture of Floyd County in order to determine what angle the author took. I did end up finding the dissertation, and the author had actually done an excellent job of piecing together the very project that I myself had been considering. At this point, I am going to attempt to meet with Dr. Cline once more to discuss any other possible perspective that I could take on the counterculture topic before scrapping it and moving forward with disasters.
During the same meeting, Dr. Cline and I discussed the other topic I was considering for my project as well. I had yet to decide on any specific disaster at the point of our meeting, however, he recommended that I do some preliminary research to see if I might come across a disaster of particular interest. He also brought up a disaster that occurred in Massachusetts that he had done preliminary research on earlier in his career. The disaster occurred when a dam burst, flooding a lower-income area of a town. We discussed how disasters such as these brought up questions of vulnerability and blame, and how these might be perspectives to consider when organizing my own project. Finally, Dr. Cline asked if I had heard of Matthew Mulcahy, author of Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624-1783. I had read Mulcahy’s book for one of my historiographical essays last semester, and was actually pleasantly taken by the way he structured his argument and the themes he considered. Dr. Cline recommended that I return to the book in order to analyze the author’s methodology, organization, and conclusions, to see if I might consider structuring my project in a similar fashion. While Mulcahy’s work focuses on a much broader scale both geographically and chronologically than my own project would, his work is one of the only that I have come across that considers the impact of disaster on both the natural and human environment.
An attempt at a “citeable note” from Mulcahy’s book:
Mulcahy (2006): focuses on analyzing how larger social, political, and economic circumstances shaped the effect of hurricanes in the Greater British Caribbean; one of the only works currently published that considers the multifaceted impact of natural disaster on a region from an analytical, historical perspective.
For the interactive reading and notetaking exercise, I chose to read “Natural Disaster and Technological Catastrophe” by Andrew Baum, Raymond Fleming, and Laura Davidson. This article should provide some context for a project on disasters that have been caused/exacerbated by human action. The most notable difference between conducting this exercise and how I usually read articles and take notes was that I had to actively remind myself not to take notes until the end. In doing so, I believe I was much more attentive and deliberate in my reading, as I knew I had to remember the key points and themes of the work. While this exercise pushed me out of my traditional reading and writing comfort zone, I can already see how it will be a more effective form of researching. I will save a considerable amount of time by waiting until the end of a work to jot down notes, and I will be forced to retain only the essential information, as opposed to anything and everything that catches my eye. One aspect of interactive reading and notetaking that I anticipate struggling with is the recommendation to abandon the highlighter. While I agree that using a highlighter has often led to me recording and highlighting frivilously, I have also found that I remember the highlighted text much more readily. Perhaps in reading more deliberately, I can also learn to highlight more intentionally, therefore improving my interactive research without abandoning the beloved highlighter.