Throughout this semester, we’ve encountered a lot of material. Some of it was easy to understand (Nationalism, Race) and some was harder to understand (Patronage, Sexuality/Sapphonics.) One of the techniques in discussing a piece/person was to look through multiple lenses to identify the key parts to better understand the who, what, when, why, how of it/them. In this course, instead of analyzing a bunch of pieces, we used this technique on the abstract concept of Paris in the 1920s to learn the ins and outs of what made Paris during that time period so special. We, in turn, applied this knowledge to a variety of papers that focused on people, societies, venues, and pieces, and applied the critical lenses to shed some light on a particular area associated with our research. Some of us re-enforced known arguments, while some went into untrodden ground and unearthed ideas and hypothesis that were new and original.

It’s hard to say what specific themes we encountered the most, as people had different subjects that might align towards some lenses and not others. Personally, I encountered many social themes, and a few racial and a few nationalistic and even a historic one when I ‘reviewed’ Ravel’s Tzigane. Some issues that nearly always arose were finding sources that collaborated together in a meaningful way that wasn’t stretched or lacking. Something that maybe we were taught but never learned was that the research isn’t entirely going to be perfectly synthesizable for you, especially when looking at primary sources. Sometimes you need a placeholder reference that will uphold your argument, but a source specifically saying it needs to be found. If one can’t be, then it’s back to the drawing board!

What I enjoyed about these research papers is that they allowed us to really dig our hands deep in what we were researching, we could not just skim the surface and write our preliminary findings. One issue I had with this, however experiential it was, was that there just wasn’t enough time to write everything, read for class, on top of other courses. I found myself constantly asking myself whether I should read for the next day or work on my paper more. But other than that, the papers in all were very informative, not by rote information but by process and informed our writing abilities further than, at least for me, any other class had really done.

As too many high schoolers end their papers with, all in all this class was extremely rewarding and would highly recommend it to anyone considering it.