Okay, apparently it’s NOT Ms. Marvel day today. Ms. Marvel #10 has been moved to December 17. I swear it was moved, though! I suppose I can wait patiently, if “patiently” includes grumblemuttering for four extra weeks. Anyway, to fill the gap, I thought I’d tell you about History Day from yesterday! It’s the day history seniors present posters on their topics. There’s no formal presentation, it’s kind of like a poster fair where people wander around and we engage them in conversation. (For more on my topic, 18th-century literature and human rights, see the tag senior thesis.)
Here’s my poster:
I’d been noting down resources all along, so when it came time to do the poster, it was a simple process of looking at all my visual resources and asking “What are the vital components of this paper? What are the moving parts of this thesis?”
In the center panel, I have a big title and a picture of the original book, to give an indication of my topic and for historical interest, respectively. Below that I just put up some old illustrations of the book and a portrait of the author, Samuel Richardson. I wanted at least one element to be a little bit 3D or interactive, so I have the book cover opening onto a description of the book.
On the right side, I have a letter from Thomas Jefferson in which he recommended Pamela, with his effusions on the usefulness of books typed up below. Then there’s a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
On the left side, I have three graphs from The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker (my review), showing how literacy rates and book production took off after Pamela. Beneath those I have some brain pictures I made, highlighting the areas of the brain involved in pain vs. empathy. (When you feel empathy for pain, your brain acts as if you were actually feeling pain despite the lack of pain stimuli…)
So, I could use the poster to walk a person through my thesis.
- Look at this book! (center)
- It was hugely popular. (graphs)
- The book made people feel like they were in another person’s shoes. (brain diagrams)
- Recognition of others’ internal lives is a foundational element for human rights as a social norm and as legislation. (documents)
Regarding the “engage in conversation” part, I was nervous. I had this fear that people would say “So, what’s your paper about?” and I’d just forget, not only all the information I’d read but what the paper was about. The first person who talked to me was a friend, though, so I got to stumble all over myself in front of her instead of everybody else. 😉 After I got into the swing of things, it was actually quite fun to talk about my research with interested parties! It was mostly faculty and staff, with a few history majors thrown in — it would’ve been nice to show other students how interesting history is, too, but faculty have preexisting knowledge and conversational topics, so there’s that. There were some very interesting observations. Librarians in particular seemed very interested, and a few even recognized Pamela!
I actually finished my paper on Monday, pending final tweaks. (The celebrations have begun!) It will appear in some form here — I may section it off into topics, much as they’re partitioned above, and just write up new posts summarizing each thing, plus stuff for funsies that got cut from the paper. That might be more fun for everybody. But if you’re a blog friend and you’d like to read it in its “real” form, please email me or let me know in the comments, and I’ll send it to you! (I’ve sent it out to several of you already, thank you for being interested!)