Yesterday was our CURI final symposium, and the team loved sharing our research from the past ten weeks with the St. Olaf College community. Just because CURI has ended, though, this project is by no means over. We hope to broaden, enlarge, and advance this project for years to come, starting with experimenting with a new mapping platform this fall. However, this does mean that my work on the project will lessen considerably. So, in honor of the end of CURI, here are my off-the-cuff thoughts about just some of the great take-aways I’ve gotten from this project:

The power of mapping (as a pedagogical and research tool)—our proof-of-concept map has broadened my ideas on how to conduct research in the humanities. I’ve gone beyond seeing only stagnant data and event/person specific studies as the only way to approach a topic. The visualization and narrative inherently created when data is converted into a map is something I hope to bring into future projects.

New research avenues—we didn’t know exactly what would provide the best research data at first, and because of that we were forced to experiment with and find new types of sources that we’d never worked with before. Who knew, for example, that historic travel guides would provide so much great information—as well as a reminder to keep our eyes open for nontraditional source material.

Connections—It’s clear that the 1920s is a unique era, but one of my biggest realizations/surprises throughout has been the connectivity between different members of the art scene and different artistic genres, and I’ve now come to see this as the biggest contributing factor to the era’s uniqueness. It’s not necessarily who, how many, or where, but so many whos at so many wheres…if that makes sense.

The power of physical space—examining Paris as a geographical destination full of addresses allowed for an envisioning of history and a reminder that historic events exist in a specific place and time.

Humor—The art world of 1920s Paris relied a lot on humor—I’d never realized this. From the absurdity of Dadaism to the light humor of Le Train Bleu to the puns and plays on other compositions in the music of Satie, the 1920s laughed at the present and the past.

Record keeping—journaling and keeping track of methodology and source bias along the way was infinitely helpful!

Collaborative research—team writing can actually work, especially when we got to know each other’s individual writing styles. I hope future research I can part in can have a collaborative element.

And just because we have to end with a Jean Cocteau quote: “I am working at my wooden table, seated on my wooden chair with my wooden penholder in my hand, but this does not prevent me from being in some degree responsible for the courses of the stars.” From Le Coq et l’Arlequin