To be or not to be

To be or not to be

Okay. So I’m taking a few months off school to figure a few things out. I’m not sure I want to be there anymore. At least, not here, not in this department, not in this field, not in this whatever. I don’t know where the biggest problem is, except that I’m not driven to do the work anymore. Shouldn’t I listen to this impulse? I’ve been ignoring it for so long. It’s just not as interesting anymore. Maybe that will come back, maybe it won’t. Who knows. I go back and forth. Right now, my stomach just sinks when I think about going back to what used to really excite and please me. I mean, I used to be that girl who does who reads the ‘recommended’ as well as ‘required’ readings and was constantly fascinated by every little detail. I had original ideas and profs prompted me to publish. I never, and I mean never, handed in anything late. Right now I am about 6-8 months behind in my work. And I just don’t even care. Could be chemical. Or, I could have just come to some kind of an end of something. I don’t know what the problem is, but I want it to be over.

And the fact is that I am still passionate about things, it’s just not the same things. And I think I could do some really important work elsewhere. I think there needs to be someone looking at education and technology specifically in the area of history; when I talked about online interactive simulated historical environments (like the one I’m trying to build at Achieve), my colleagues look at me as if my head is slowly spinning all the way around. And now I’m even trying to talk about a dissertation project that is at once a audio-visual, interactive narrative tableaux of the historical events I’m describing, as well as linked translations of the texts I’m taking the details from, as well as scanned primary documents, with my own discussions of the issues behind that….linked altogether in the end with my conclusions, which I think is extremely valuable not only as a presentation tool but as a form of learning and formulating, a totally new way of presenting historical data which is more ‘transparent’ (in that the documents are readily available instead of in an archive in Paris under lock and key, and because you get to trace my process and watch me jump from one idea to another), and also a great way for students to present their research for evaluation. If every doctoral student in history did this, think of the wealth of information that would become available to all levels of history students, regardless of location. (An undergraduate student at Memorial University in Newfoundland would be able to access not only my dissertation, for example, but would be able to write a primary source paper based on the scanned documents that support my project, documents that could be in the Rare Book library here, or anywhere else.) And in the end, fundamentally, it brings history forward. History isn’t really faring well in this technologically advancing world. No one takes history because they’re going to get skills they can use elsewhere, or because they can produce work in multiple ways, do something interesting. History is still very much about ‘the book’ and the classical page. Technology in history is about a fancy program to help you format your footnotes.

Am I completely insane? Am I fooling myself?

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