Feb
03

February is already so busy!

I’ve been seriously neglectful of my blog I am hereby declaring that this week will have recaps of all of the months I’ve missed blogging. That is about five months, but I’m determined to make it happen.

February has already been a bit of a crazy month, thesis-wise, despite the fact that it has only been three days. The biggest part of this comes from trying to write my last chapter, which is a bit like trying to wrestle a greased pig. I’ve been telling myself throughout my writing that the last chapter is going to be the best and where all of the really good things are. Now that I have to write the good things, it is a bit scary. Partially because I’m not sure how good the good things actually are, but mostly because I’ve been working on this project for so long that the idea of finishing it is extremely daunting. I started thinking about it spring semester of sophomore year, spent most of last year planning for it, this entire summer researching, and last semester writing in. Now that I have to finally end it it seems less like an end to a project and more like the end of my college career, which is sad and scary at the same time.

The writing itself has not been too bad, actually, just hard to get myself to commit to it. My plan is for the last chapter to not just bring together all of my ideas but also discuss why all of the ways in which plantation museums interpret slavery are flawed, no matter where they stand in comparison to other museums. Every plantation museums is presented as the domain of the white owners, even if the lives of the enslaved people who lived there are discussed in depth. I think that questioning this assumption could be useful for our understanding of history. Plantations were built on land stolen from Native Americans and built by laborers who had no legal rights to their own bodies or labor. How can we not call into question the right of the owners to have their names be the ones that cover the signs? That is very easy to say here, in a few sentences, but trying to make a coherent argument of that has proven rather challenging.

Besides the writing, a few other exciting things have been going on in regards to my thesis. At the end of last week I found out about my panel for the Virginia Forum, which is entitled “Representations of Slavery and the Civil War.” My fellow presenters are discussing the Civil War at a museum in Albemarle and the making of the movie “Virginia.” They’re a bit different from mine, so I’m excited to see how they’ve approached their topics and what they have to say about them. It also means that I have to finally put together my presentation, which I think I am going to use Prezi for. Prezi is an amazing tool that helps you make presentations that aren’t just slide shows, but very active and engaging ways to visualized information. I’ve never used one before, but all the ones I’ve seen have been very effective. I can’t wait to try it out and hopefully make something that turns out to be very interesting.

Over the next month, I hope to finish my last chapter and that presentation, so I have got my work cut out for me. Hopefully it will all come together in the near future, but right now it seems like a lot of things to do.

Comments

  1. Gillian R. Barr says:

    Best wishes and encouragement as you wrap up your project! It is indeed a time of very mixed emotions as well as hard work!

    It’s exciting to see how the Honors research program has expanded and matured since I wrote my History thesis 23 years ago! I looked at how Colonial Williamsburg’s interpretations programs were incorporating social history in general and were a way of mediating the academic work of social historians to the general public. Including material on slavery and the African American experience was a very new thing then.

    It’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come–your analysis is probing much larger, foundational issues and questions, whereas 23 years ago the very mention of slavery in museum interpretations was still controversial in many places. I think I could have counted the number of museums in Va addressing it in any substantive way on my fingers.