Throughout this summer, I’ve come to understand that research and scholarly work are not exclusively for people in STEM fields. When I used to think of research, I would picture students working in a lab, testing on animals, or dissecting specimens. However, both my project this summer and many of the other fellows’ projects have shown me that creative work can also involve research and scholarship. In my own project, I used focus groups to conduct what I referred to as “informal research” about students’ experiences with linguistic discrimination. I then utilized my findings from that research to write a collection of short stories entitled Words Left Said. My stories are research-based, and even required me to do additional research about specific varieties of English and other issues that my stories focused on. Similarly, as I heard about other fellows scanning through archives, analyzing political cartoons, and examining tropes in video games, fantasy novels, and theater productions, I realized that research goes far beyond a biology lab.
I am extremely proud of the three stories I crafted this summer, and I believe they’re the most valuable products I’ll be taking away from my experience as a Brackenridge scholar. I now have an entire collection of stories that I can publish in a literary magazine or a scholarly arts journal. I can also add to this collection by re-consulting my notes from the focus groups I held back in June and expanding on themes I find there in new stories. Through my three current stories, I got the chance to spread awareness about linguistic discrimination and I also got to mature as a writer and further develop my own writing style. I imbued my stories with symbolism and parallelism, explored genres like magical realism and epistolary fiction, and crafted a poetic prose that makes me feel confident about the quality and impact of these stories.
Now that my collection of stories and the fellowship have both been completed, I plan to continue creative writing in all forms. I’d love to craft more short stories, screenplays, poems, novels, and personal essays. I’m taking a playwriting class this fall which I am extremely excited for. In terms of linguistic research, I’d like to use my findings from my focus groups this summer and my knowledge about language discrimination to be more mindful of how I’m consciously and unconsciously treating others based on the way they speak. I’d also like to try to publish my stories on multiple platforms so that they reach a wider audience and can help educate the public to also be more mindful and aware of linguistic discrimination.