As has been conveyed to us again and again, the Brackenridge Fellowship strives towards – and even prides itself on – bringing its researchers together across all disciplinary backgrounds. I knew that this was true from the moment I received the introductory email and read through all of my fellow students’ project titles. The intense levels of passionate scholarly and medical devotion were both engaging and inspiring. However, after our first few weeks, I have found within my cohort that our interdisciplinary interests go far beyond merely being interesting to those outside of each other’s field. Indeed, I have been astonished to notice that many of us are approaching similar objectives and ideas from different perspectives. While I am sure that many of my coresearchers would identify this in different ways, I see it as this: many of us are all engaging with the question of how we express ourselves in the modern age.
Expression fulfills many purposes and comes in many forms. For me and my research, I am interested in how we as a society construct our own narratives and create art. While I believe it is a meaningful pursuit, it is, ultimately, research for knowledge’s sake. Yet, individuals in my cohort have surprised me with how they have engaged the significance of expression and its impact on the outside world. For example, Alyssa Medwynter in her project on Black language and “Internet Speech” is examining not only how our society expresses itself online, but also how this expression affects the Black community. It takes ideas, which I only began to consider, to a whole new level. Additionally, Sarah Hulse’s “The War Metaphor in Metastatic Breast Cancer” seeks to understand how the expression of life through narrative psychologically impacts cancer patients. I am very excited to follow along with these researchers and the progression of their projects as they tackle ideas of narrative and linguistic expression in ways I never focussed on.
Beyond this, I am interested in other projects pursued within my cohort for more personal reasons. I have grown up with a hearing disorder, and, while I do not feel as though my academics were significantly impacted before the pandemic when masks began covering our lips, I do remember how nightmarish it was navigating the medical system while trying to secure a diagnosis. Alleviating difficulties such as this, to my understanding, is the focus of Mandy Cooper’s research. So, naturally, I am eager to encourage her as we cooperate throughout this program.
Admittedly, we all in the Brackenridge Fellowship have a certain bias towards our own fields that can sometimes surface in a semi-competitive nature. This, in my opinion, would be the only difficulty of working in an interdisciplinary environment, Nevertheless, all of these individuals and their research in some way connects to mine or my personal life, despite the fact that we come from a wide variety of interests, fields, and disciplines. At the same time, their differing backgrounds help me to perceive the implications of my own research in new ways that I had never considered. This is the greatest thing I could hope to learn from my cohort this summer, allowing me to improve and expand my own work and interests based on what they teach me.