At the beginning of the summer, Brett told us that research isn’t a linear process. I heard what he was saying and understood his point, but internally I think I still expected to move straight forward at all times. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. There were moments when another topic would distract me from the core focus of my work, and I had a hard time getting myself back on topic. I relied on the archivist at Dickinson College, where my primary materials are housed, to give me access to virtual scans– but for a few weeks my emails went to her spam folder. There was nothing I could do to stop that, and it threw a wrench in my plans, but I figured out how to work around it.
In short, the summer wasn’t what I expected it to be– not just because of moving online, but because things happen that you just can’t plan for. Brett, my research mentor, and my peers all kept me sane while dealing with unforeseen problems. Overall, my struggles have been the most valuable teaching moments, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have experienced those setbacks. Now, in my future research, I’ll know not to panic when things aren’t perfect.
Speaking of future research, I’m not positive where I want to go from here. I’m looking to publish the work I’ve done during the Brackenridge, and there’s a lot of room to build on my topic of queer history in small towns. I also think my project stands well on its own, as a case study of how queer people can build strong, capable communities outside of metropolitan areas. Above all, though, I see myself taking what I’ve learned about gender and queer theory and applying it to other areas of study, particularly to my interests in ancient art and archaeology– because the Brackenridge has also taught me that despite its pitfalls, I want to keep doing research.