As I mentioned in a previous post, I wish to research the topic of dispelling the myth of the “ragged Rebel.” I have spoken to several faculty members on this topic and they have been quite receptive and supportive of this idea. I spoke with Dr. Quigley, who as you know, is the director for the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. He was very interested in the topic and was able to provide some very insightful ideas, as well as the titles of some books to further my research. I brought this to his attention when I was working with him on one of our upcoming projects and we have had several discussion regarding the way in which I can go about getting the most out of this project.
The second person that I have talked with about this idea was Dr. Wallenstein, although he is “not here” in an official capacity this semester, he was able to provide some very useful ideas and constructive criticism when he and I talked about the idea for my research. He was trying to help me focus on a more detailed/specific research question to help narrow my research, which I am finding to be probably the most difficult thing to do.
I also spoke with Professors Dufour and Kutz, both of whom have had some great tips for writing. I am looking to make this research something that can be drawn upon to help reinterpret many of the common misconceptions about the Confederate soldier. This research will be invaluable in many aspects of the history field, from classrooms to museums. Professor Dufour was very helpful in pointing out different ways to pose questions to help guide my research, whereas Professor Kutz was able to point out many different eras of the research over the past 150 years and was able to combine this with some suggestions on several books that may be of great help in my research if this is the direction that I head, or this is the final project that I decide to research.
I have such a wide field of interests, which presents a problem for me, as I do not have just one area to focus on. This week, I chose to read the thesis on the role of WWII era women and the use of cookbooks to make them “kitchen citizens.” This thesis was extremely well written and thoroughly researched and footnoted extensively. I found the information both engaging and not too dry to make the reader feel bored. I thought that she was able to examine both gender studies and the culinary fields in such a way that it didn’t seem to sound like that was the case; things just flowed very smoothly. The examination of women’s roles both in and out of the kitchen and household was really well researched and the research into the roles of the OWI and OPA in the lives of women on the homefront was quite enlightening. I also found the section on how commercial companies were supporting the war effort by creating names for certain recipes, or the ingredients themselves quite interesting. I always like reading more about these often overlooked segments of history. I have several of the war ration tokens and ration booklets, as well as several of the “Cooking for Victory” cookbooks and I find that reading through these recipes, I don’t even recognize some of the ingredients, or they have changed drastically. It is true that the homefront was undergoing a transformation, although not on the scale that the front line soldiers were, it was still a transformation all the same.
One thing that I found to be a little of a problem, at least in my eyes, was the use of the illustrations, first of all, I felt that there could have been more. The ones that she did use, were off center, and very small, and somewhat dark. I think that the use of more of them would be helpful to break up the reading and help to illustrate her arguments. I would also recommend the use of a larger illustration and a lighter tint to make them easier to see. Overall I was very impressed with the topic and I hope that mine turns out half as good. Thanks for posting the link to read this, it was quite good.