Last reflection!

When I embarked on this internship, my main emotion was doubtful. Was I good enough for the program? Was my idea scholarly or simply “cool” enough? Did I love my topic enough? What even was my topic? I knew that I would have many opportunities to narrow down my project, but the anxiety that came with my family and friends asking me “so what exactly are you doing this summer” and not quite having an answer still accompanied me going into the summer.

Once we got started, the value of throwing myself deeply into meaningful work assuaged my fears and doubts significantly. Here I was, finding roots and a context for my topic. I was enjoying delving into research, collecting data from the newspapers, and thinking about ways to visualize my data. The low point came midway, like most of my peers, when I was basically told that I had no true argument or scholarly basis behind my project. However the harsh critiques compelled me to create much better research that gave me more time to spend on my project as a whole. I’m finishing confidently, proud of myself, and defying all the doubts I had along the way by completing my project, ready to talk about it and present and write about it to whoever will listen.

In class we talked about what we had learned from this project. The intangible aspects are hard for me to put into words, but I will attempt my best to describe and connect them to some of the guiding questions. Perhaps the largest takeaway from this project was how much I simply learned, despite that seeming like a cop–out answer. I think back to last summer, where I worked three days as an intern and four days as a waitress. I certainly was busy, and enjoyed the work I was doing–but I remember missing the intellectual engagement of Lafayette and the classes. This program allowed me to immerse myself in the act of learning, in learning for the sake of creating something exciting and new that I would not have anticipated myself being able to create even a few months ago. I grew as a student and scholar, giving me a new perspective on what it means to research. No longer do I define it by the typical classroom definition of research. Instead, I see research as an act of creation–particularly digital humanities research. Perhaps that is how I would define digital humanities–research where you create beyond the written word using digital tools. However, I do not see DH as its own field, but rather see us at a time in academia where the direction research is headed is toward digital, and DH is an intermediate movement to help scholars get there.

Continuing on the thread of intangible learning, the other main takeaway I want to discuss is the collaborative nature of this program. There was something comforting about having seven other people to look to who were going through the same ups and downs as I was. It was also really helpful to be able to see how other people’s projects were coming along and transforming. This is not a program one can go at alone. However, I do wish we did more feedback earlier on, especially related to the project. I have some other thoughts on how to improve the program as a whole. Initially, I thought that more time was definitely needed for the program, but since it’s the last week and everything is basically finished, I’m not so sure anymore. I definitely think redistributing when things happen would make the six weeks still sufficient. Most importantly, I believe that shifting the librarian critiques and solidifying a research question and thesis as soon as possible is crucial to making the process less stressful. It would also allow for everyone to have a more cohesive concept as to what their project would look like earlier on. Another suggestion I have is to meet more often. I found that the independence to work on my project was nice, but it did make me feel a little lost with so many hours to myself. I think an additional lab hour would be helpful, since times to do focused work were really helpful.

To shift to my project itself, the question of how my love for the topic has changed is a very interesting one. Certainly my love for The Lafayette has taken a different shape. There is certainly something about learning the history of something that makes you love it even more. Going through the archives of The Lafayette made me feel both connected and disconnected to those on the paper who came before me. I felt connected because I saw the struggles and joys we go through currently reiterated in past decades, and disconnected because the student body at Lafayette is so different now–there is no universe in which I would be in charge of design for The Lafayette in the 60s and 70s. But overall, it was fascinating to me to see how the newspaper has changed, in ways I mentioned in my conclusion and in simpler ways that are cool to me from simply being on the paper. Despite not being involved with the writing/content aspect of the newspaper, it still makes me want to take the best parts about previous incarnations of the paper and put it in our current one.

My project has also made me think more critically about the nature of political engagement I looked at in my research. Certainly academic engagement with politics is not bad, but is it really activism? As in–is it going to make wide changes to systemic issues like protests did? I really do not have answers to this whatsoever, but it’s certainly interesting to think about. But going back to the idea of love–I know for certain that I love the questions my project leaves me with. Perhaps they will sustain my desire to learn into the rest of the summer.

Reflection 4

This past week has been eventful, to say the least. It was definitely very stressful. After being told by the other librarians that my research was not really interesting and that I needed more of a context for it, I had a mini-panic, and then went back to work trying to find that context. I decided on focusing in on the idea that one of the reasons why there are less traditional modes of activism on campus is because these political discussions are incorporated into our academic life through interactions with the faculty and events. From that point, I was able to re-research and I feel pretty good about the research/paper aspect of the whole situation. However, the stressful part comes in when I think about the project aspect. Because my topic has shifted, I’m not even sure topic modeling makes sense anymore, which makes all of the work I put into getting data that fits for cytoscape and the work I did using this project potentially completely useless. I’m also having trouble really nailing down what I want to do now in terms of visualization of data, and even exactly if the kind of data I am looking for is the best data I could be looking for. I do have ideas, but the fact a project draft is due on Thursday is daunting when I still don’t have a clear idea of what my project will look like with a topic change seemingly small, yet dramatic in terms of how it affects my project. The ideas I do have theoretically will not take too long to execute; I am just worried that they will not be enough to really get a great point across with a visualization.

Reflection three

Regarding my project in the past week, the amount of stress/pressure I feel has definitely gone up. Creating my data set has taken up a large amount of my time, but I successfully have finished creating my original 2010s index and now I just need to edit the older index. Surprisingly, the editing of the old index is looking like it may be more time consuming than creating the new one, which is a little worrying. However, there is not much I can do to avoid that besides just work! Additionally, I have gathered many sources that should lend themselves to a robust literature review. Now, I just have to write it all–which should be an interesting process. I have also started working very minimally on my Omeka site, which I enjoy because I like to design. I have been thinking that after doing my topic modeling, it would make the most to use my time to make a timeline instead of a Neatline exhibit.
Aside from the stress of the time I have left, overall, I have been enjoying what I have been doing quite a bit. Going through The Lafayette has been extremely fun for me, especially seeing what is being written about and also just learning more about Lafayette as a school. I’m a little apprehensive about using software and creating a visualization, but I have ideas for making it a little more manageable for me. Also, I decided I also want to make some graphs as well because some of the data that I want to include lends itself to a more traditional visualization. One of the coolest things though is that I put the 2010s index into Cytoscape to portray a certain visualization (because I want to create multiple visualizations) and it looks awesome and is doing what I want it to do! So I am excited.

Reflection two

In the past week, my project has finally been taking shape into something where all the parts seem to be falling into place. By choosing my focus to be student activism as seen through The Lafayette, I have found purpose and academic placement for my project. I have spent my first week doing a number of productive things. I have found a lot of excellent primary and secondary sources about student activism in the US and at Lafayette, which has led to me narrowing down the years I plan on using.

After meeting with Diane Shaw, I also have some great resources on my hand. I have good primary/secondary sources about my topic in the context of Lafayette. Additionally, the index about the Lafayette and social-issue related articles is going to be extremely useful and gives me more time to focus on the rest of the project. From this point on, I have some clear-cut work to do. I will continue to do background research, particularly finding article on the modern state of student activism. I also want to make edits to the already created index to adjust it to what I want to focus on, and also to go through and double check the articles they included. I also will be making a modern index. I also discovered a cool tool call Cytoscape which looks like it will lend itself nicely to the type of topic modeling I want to do. However, I definitely need to mess around with it more and I anticipate that it will take some time to get it to do what I want. Overall, things are going well and I feel more secure in what I am doing and what my next steps should be.


As I have been preparing for this internship in the past few months, I have started to determine my expectations/goals for this internship. I hope to create a cohesive, working project that reflects a well-thought out research process regarding topics I am very passionate about. While many aspects of my project are still evolving (and a very necessary goal is to make my ideas more concrete), I know that the intersection of college media, campus politics, and current events is essential to my project. These topics are very important to me for various reasons. As a involved member of The Lafayette, I am very interested in how college media sources have reported on political events that affect college students both historically and currently. I also have always been inspired by the activism on college campuses and how students, represented by college media, can make policy changes on campuses.  I am also vested in learning about how student-run media sources act a response to administrative media/advertising, and the tension that emerges there.

In terms of what is important to keep and what is flexible, I want my main source of data to be newspaper archives from various colleges around the country. I’d like to include Lafayette as one of the colleges I look at. In terms of flexibility, I am very flexible as to what the final project looks like. I’m hoping to discover interesting tools to visualize my data. I also need to narrow my ideas down, so I am open to what direction my project takes for the most part, as long as the core ideas stay the same.
I foresee quite a few challenges with my project. First of all, narrowing down my topic so I can create a research question will require careful thought. I intend on focusing in on one or two social/political issues to look at. At this point, I am equally interested in the movements of co-education and women’s rights on college campuses as well as historical and current movements led by students of color at predominantly white institutions. I also will have to choose a time period. I imagine this will require me learning a bit of code, which may be a challenge as well. I also will have to do some substantial background research in order to Overall, specificity is what I will need in order to make my project work within the time constraints.  Part of this will be narrowing down which types of colleges I plan to look at as well as how many years back I decide my time frame to be. This all depends on how difficult and/or time-consuming my data collection method ends up being. I do not anticipate resources being a problem, unless there are copyright issues with using other colleges’ newspapers.