Subject: drowning in a sea of Grimkes
Well, Sara and I are doing well on the information
part- a little too well, actually. we have SO much stuff, and it's
getting hard to narrow it down.
We did find a letter that we liked today at the AAS
in the book of letters from Grimke to Beecher and asked to get it
photocopied, but they didn't have it ready by the time we left. It's
the letter about the Colonization Society, and we are interested in
it because she uses Beecher's complaints about Grimke's earlier comments
on the Colonization Society to form her arguments. There are some
good quotes to show the different aspects of her argument, and how
she argues her point. But the problem is that we have all this other
information that we want to use, we just need to figure out how to
put it in.
Help us! Maybe we can meet sometime soon and you
can look over all of our stuff and try to make more sense of it than
See you tomorrow! Lindsay and Sara
Subject: Re: drowning in a sea of Grimkes
Dear Lindsay and Sara--
How well I understand! I've got the saltwater from that sea permanently
in my lungs because I've gone under so often, and I think I'm beginning
to sprout gills.
What happens when you work on a research project
is that you start with a topic and begin looking for resources. Then
you think, "I better have a clearer focus or I'm going to die!"
And so, you construct a focus, and you go back to your looking and
your thinking but keep yourself more to the focus you've chosen. But
gradually that focus turns out to be waaaaaay too big, and overwhelming.
And it feels like your head is going to bust open. And you know that
if you write about it all, you'll die of old age before you get through
half of it. So you decide you need to figure out your point, and your
organization. But then, if your brain works like mine, it starts sabotaging
your attempts to narrow down, because your brain just LOVES all that
interesting stuff! So each time you narrow, your brain figures a way
to connect your narrowed topic to every stinking interesting thing
you found. Bad Brain! Actually, Good Brain! But Bad Brain nonetheless,
because it has you on the road to the crazy house, and in the crazy
house projects never get done because they just go on, and on, and
on, and on ...
My guess is that you believe me about all of this
because you have probably gone through many of these stages. There
was a protest song about the Vietnam War that had a lyric that fits
perfectly: "You're neck-deep in the big muddy and the Big Fool
says to push on!"
You would think if I understood the problem so well
that I'd have a perfect answer. Unfortunately... If I had a better
answer more of my own projects would be finished and published by
now. However, I do know that it is important to: 1) focus; 2) remember
that you only are shooting for a certain length and that can only
accommodate a topic of a certain size; 3) realize that you can't go
deep if you go too broad; and 4) remember that you can always come
back and use the other material for later projects in your academic
Why not bring as much as you have to class today
and we can talk about this? If you can focus on one particular letter,
one particular idea, one particular argument and then limit your discussion
to issues to connect just to that, you may be able to live and dry
off. But feel free to pack a whole lot of background information into
your opening, and to draw upon all your knowledge of the Grimkes and
their work in your analysis of the material you discuss and in forming
your conclusion. Even the world's greatest Shakespeare scholar must
still be able to write a three-page paper on some issue in Shakespeare,
but we would assume that her three page paper would carry the weight
of all that other learning and understanding.
Sorry to have thrown you in the salty sea,
but it's sure wonderful to have more swimmers---
Subject: Update on Project Two
So far, we are finding this project to be very interesting.
It is so cool to be able to work with the actual document in the hadwriting
of the author. neither of us have had the chance to do that before.
Our first major break through was when we started finding connections
between the different material. As with the first project we are finding
that our ideas of women's role in society are a whole lot differnt
that what we thought. We realized that women did more than just sit
around and tend to household needs. The Grimke sisters
are a great example of women in action! The focus of our paper( we
finally got one) is to assess the similarities and differences between
Angelina Grimke's letter to a friend and her letter to Catharine Beecher,
A fellow activist with opposing views. What is most important to us
is to look closely at why she spoke one way to a friend and another
way to a debator.
Lindsay and Sara