My Brackenridge – Reflections and Next Steps

The summer Brackenridge Fellowship has really helped clarify what paths I will be taking in my research for my final year at Pitt. I’ve been able to focus on and dedicate time to my work in a way that I would not be able to do if not for this funded summer opportunity. The weekly meetings were informative, and provided me structure without being too restrictive; this enabled me to experience what it might be like to conduct self-directed research with a cohort in the future. I’m extremely grateful to my co-mentors, Dr. Julie Beaulieu and Dr. Bridget Keown, who met with me every week, offering their time, wisdom, and resources to support how I might approach my subjects, and frame my project. Artistically, critically, and queerly approaching personal archives is political and deeply personal—the care with which my mentors engaged in my written and video/audio work helped make the difficulties I encountered not only manageable but generative. Because of Dr. Beaulieu and Dr. Keown, I rarely felt alone when I felt lost or overwhelmed—each tangent, unexpected challenge, or frightening development (both in my school work and in the larger world we all live), became sites of potential, communication, and solidarity.

When it comes to the built-in Brackenridge cohorts and weekly meetings with my fellow scholars, I found that the opportunity to communicate research across disciplines has been one of the highlights of this summer. I knew that I wanted my work to be accessible, but having the chance to put that desire into practice gave me a better idea of what that would entail. Terminology, for example, can become so familiar to those of us immersed in our respective schools of thought; this can be a challenge when our assumed familiarity with terms and concepts is projected onto others. Now that Brackridge is coming to an end, I plan to continue developing my project; I’ll be doing my capstone this fall, and an independent study course in the spring (my last semester as an undergrad at Pitt). After I graduate, I plan to spend the following year working—hopefully at Pitt—and apply to graduate programs after gaining work experience in my areas of interest. I can confirm that I absolutely love pursuing research that is personal and transformative, and I’m very excited for whatever opportunities may come from continuing my work as a gender and sexuality scholar of Armenian, diaspora, and archival studies.

Below is a screenshot of the most recent video work that I created for my project:

Virjini, my grandmother, in Beirut, Lebanon in 1967; layered with footage of me performing a washing ritual, and audio of her describing how she survived a bombing in her apartment during the Lebanese Civil War in 1979.

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