Over the course of this semester I have learned not to take anything at face value. There always seems to be another way to look at something, which in turn tells us something new. This was hard to understand at first because in education and school we are taught time and time again that there is only one correct answer and there’s no need to look further. This class not only forced me to think about several sides of the equation but to actually apply that kind of thinking into my writing.
At first, I really did not understand how to write a paper on a topic that I could not just type into Google and get the answer. I did not understand that I had to take different approaches or lenses to get an answer, which is not always the right one and then argue to make it so. It was frustrating and insightful because I new I had to leave my comfort zone, but I did not know how.
After that first paper things became clearer. I started looking more at the class readings and focusing on the listenings and realized there was more there to connect than just participating in the class discussions. One lens we looked at sparked another and another and soon I found the papers almost writing themselves because I could take one source which lead me to another source which lead me another source, just like the lenses we addressed in class.
The most powerful of all of these lenses that emerged for me was the lens of nationality and what it means to be French or French music. Looking back I feel like all the other lenses lead back to that one. Whether it was race or sexuality it all had to do with the nation and the national aspect. For example, the lens of sexuality is going to be different in an Asian nation or a St. Olaf nation than it is for a French nation.
Overall, this class went far beyond 1920s Paris. It not only taught me events and people and music, but it went farther to educate me in proper research and to look for more than one right answer. It’s now been embedded in me that there is always more than one answer, that’s why class discussions are engaging and research is interesting and sometimes even exciting.