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  • Topics and Meetings and Blog Posts, Oh My!

    Posted on January 26th, 2014 Rosemary Zlokas No comments

    I intend to explore the topic of women in higher education during the post-World War II era in the United States.  If archives allow, I hope to narrow this topic to looking specifically at young women who married while still in college, focusing on their motivations for doing so, as well as how matrimony changed the lives of both husband and wife.  This topic combines my interest in gender, sexuality, marriage, domesticity, and family.  I look forward to gaining a better understanding of how American women during this time balanced motivations rooted in both sexuality and domesticity and if these motivations impacted the reasons these women made the decision to get married while completing (or partially completing) their educations.  It will then be interesting to explore how these decisions, in turn, affected the outcome of their educations.  I am trying to find new and exciting ways to combine all of my interests and the advice from faculty members.

    As with many things in life, I expect this topic to change, even possibly significantly, over the course of the research and writing process.  Historians must be ready and willing to adapt to such changes and it will be interesting to see how everyone’s work transforms into a final product over the next three semesters.

    In preparation of working more on this topic, I met with several faculty members.  It was a pleasure to meet with these professors and they were helpful in different ways.   I enjoyed our conversations and the insights they had to offer.

    Dr. Mollin studies women and gender, thus we had a very interesting conversation on this topic and several variations of it.  We discussed the importance of sources and how different archives can direct a gendered focus on the research.  Most notably, we also talked about my separate interest in beauty culture and body image.  Dr. Mollin suggested that I try to combine these interests in a way that is relevant to this time period.  She recommended several texts, both new and familiar, that will be good places to start in establishing whether this idea is feasible and, if so, could contain useful frameworks and methodologies.

    Dr. Wallenstein studies higher education institutions, so he is very knowledgeable on this topic.  We discussed the importance of sources, now that I have established a topic, and how the availability of these will direct where the research can go, as well as the complications likely to arise.  One of the texts I used in my historiography suggests an archive that the author found useful in a similar exploration, so Dr. Wallenstein suggested that this would be a useful place to start and very helpful in establishing a working hypothesis.  He also recommended that I think back to what sparked my interest in this topic in the first place, as pinpointing this can be very useful in further focusing my research.  Dr. Wallenstein raised a number of extremely salient points that will be important in thinking over this topic, especially related to the motivations these women had not only for getting married, but also in deciding to attend college in the first place.

    Dr. Cline and I planned to meet last Thursday, but we had to reschedule to meet on Monday.   I hope to ask him how Public History can play a role in the way we conduct research, such as collecting oral histories, using digital history, and making the most of archives.

    I also have plans to meet with Dr. Halpin soon, as he studies American history during this time period, as well as social history.  I am looking forward to discussing this topic, along with a variation of it, with him.  Meeting with these faculty members was incredibly helpful and I look forward to working with these and other professors over the course of this project.

    Where this topic can go from here is largely dependent on being able to find the right sources.  While I have some idea of what I would like to use, a lot is still in the air.  We are all coming to realize that the fate of our topics lies in what sources we are able to find.  Sources and sources and sources, oh my!