Lessons in Research: I tried, I failed, I learned…

One of the things that I learned the most throughout my research experience has been the value of discussion. Discussing ideas and approaches with my research mentor and various other specialists in the field at various points during my research has been extremely helpful and has helped me to find the path that I am taking with my project. These discussions can give new ideas, allow for the development of current ones, and also identify ideas that might not be worth pursuing. The other thing that I learned is that it is a normal part of the research process to try to follow through with an idea, figure out it is a dead-end and just start again and try another idea. For example, I originally had the idea that it would be useful to look at the process of the reconstruction of performance elements of the text I have focused on through the lens of the tradition of Byzantine chant music. This is a music tradition belonging to the Eastern Orthodox churches, and church tradition links it very closely to ancient Greek music. However, through my exploration of this and various emails with an expert on Byzantine chant, I realized that the text that I was working with was completely anachronistic to the earliest writings about Byzantine chant music theory and that it would require a lot of speculation to connect the two. As a result of this realization, I backtracked and through discussion with my mentors in both Music and Classics formulated a new approach that I am taking, focusing on ancient Greek music-theoretical texts and discussions of different genres and modes of ancient Greek music in society, such as those used in laments. 

I found my CURF experience really valuable in the sense that I was not only able to continue my research knowing that I have the support of the honors college but also to read all of the other blog posts by students doing fascinating research in such diverse fields. This process gave me a perspective of how research is conducted in different fields and it gave me inspiration for approaches I could use in my own projects.

I am planning on continuing on my research project and hope to bring it all together into my BPhil thesis to defend in the spring. Further on, I hope to continue and expand this research when I am in graduate school. In particular, whereas my past projects have been largely focused on analyzing the Bankes Homer Papyrus, in my subsequent research I hope to dive more into the linguistics, papyrology, and performance reconstruction aspects of the subject. I will do this with the goal of thoroughly answering the question: what can the patterns that were observed in Homeric papyri tell us about the sound of the Homeric epics?

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