Look Back at July: Secondary Reading and Different Looks at the Victorian Era

July flew by for me. I spent the month getting secondary reading done, taking more intensive notes on my core novels, and even doing a little bit of drafting (!).

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The Road to Honors Thesis

Everything is beginning to come together. After all of my reading and researching of imagination, nostalgia, creativity, and memory as well as all the methods for priming and measuring these terms my two studies are ready for launch. My first study is a rather simple correlational study that seeks to find whether or not those who are prone nostalgic experiences are significantly more imaginative/creative than those who are not prone to nostalgia. Most people when I tell them I am studying nostalgia are confused as to how I will do that. When I tell them there is an actual literature for provoking and measuring it they are even more perplexed. My first study uses a measure called the Southampton Nostalgia Scale that actually functions to measure a person’s proneness to nostalgia. The other three questionnaires evaluate what I believe to be three other major constructs related to the broader construct of imagination. One evaluates fantasy proneness (i.e. how prone an individual is to fantasy/day-dreaming), another evaluates creativity/cognitive flexibility, and another measures the vividness of mental imagery.

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August Blog Post: Rare Books at the Library of Congress

Working in DC in August was exciting with the opening of the Metro’s new silver line. A station opened within walking distance of my home, significantly shortening my commute to the Library of Congress. This month, I read texts in the Rare Books and Special Collections reading room at the Library of Congress. The Special Collections are in a separate section of the library from the Main Reading Room, and researchers need specific permission to enter this area. The Special Collections hold the pre-1800 materials of the Library of Congress. I gained familiarity with handling rare books at Swem Library. The key to reading rare books without damaging them is to touch the pages as little as possible. The pages are often very fragile and brittle. Many of these books have broken spines and have to be transported very carefully. Multiple cameras in Special Collections monitor the handling of the books by the readers, and bringing any bags or even pens into the reading area is prohibited. Although the Library of Congress takes significant steps to protect these original texts, anyone can apply for permission to read them because it is considered the library of the people.

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July Blog Post: Travel and Intellectual Development

During the month of July, I read secondary sources discussing travel in Europe and America. One of the most interesting texts was English Travellers Abroad, 1604-1667, by John Stoye. Stoye researched travelers abroad, particularly in France, Italy, and the Netherlands, in order to explain the origins of the Grand Tour. Stoye identifies how politics at home influenced travelers and shaped their journeys. The search for patronage and courtly politics impacted distant locales like Venice, where Englishmen formed small communities that replicated the hierarchy and conflicts of the court. Stoye argues that not all Englishmen abroad were committed to improving their classical education, instead regarding travel as a social activity. Many returned from traveling unmoved by their Grand Tour. However, others would be significantly impacted by their life abroad, such as John Milton, whose literary discussions with Italian scholars likely encouraged him to write Paradise Lost. Stoye’s book influenced the direction of my research and led me to focus on how the British developed intellectually through travel.

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Thesis Outline and Future Direction

Below you’ll find my articulated direction for my thesis for the remainder of the year!

  1. I.     Introduction (DUE DATE DECEMBER 17) [Read more…]