Home > Uncategorized > Questioning Research and Museum Visits

Questioning Research and Museum Visits

As an English major (and I’m guessing most students have had similar experiences), my research thus far in college has consisted almost entirely of hours spent in the library with peer reviewed articles and books. Going out into the “field” for Texas Slavery has really made me think about research in a new light. While reading Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl I often found myself treating the narrative as a novel. Though I’m aware that the narrative is autobiographical, the format and style of the book reads much like that of a thrilling fiction. I realized, after our class discussion on Tuesday, that this is because Jacobs pays such attention to detail that her narrative seems like an impossible one to have recorded completely from memory. This makes me somewhat doubtful of Incidents; I trust in the author and her intentions but it seems unlikely that such precise elements of her narrative such as the dialogue and the accounts of events that happened not in the author’s presence would be very difficult, if not impossible, to recreate from memory. As some one who has taken academic research for granted and assumed it to be unfailingly true, this came as an unpleasant surprise to me. The narrative is much like the field research we’re doing: part fact, part speculation, part hazy memories. This presents a real challenge to us as researchers; how much can we trust?

Lastly- I’m planning on making a trip down to Austin to visit the Carver Museum, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, and possibly the capitol. I’ll be searching for memorialization of the black experience at these sites and I’m really excited to make the trip because I’m hoping these locations will give a good sense of the presence of black history in our state history (or the lack thereof). If anyone else cares to join me, I’m planning on going either this Saturday afternoon, the 26th, or the following weekend of March 4-6 and I’d love to have some company. I think these sites can likely be useful for more than just questions of memorialization so I’ll also be sharing what I found.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I completely agree. I mean, many of the slave narratives have had their legitimacy been questioned. But honestly, it’s understandable though – consider the factors they had to take into consideration. It was written during a period in American history where they wouldn’t be taken seriously so might as well make sure it’s a little sensational to appeal to a broad audience. Also, their own histories were ambiguous because of history being recorded orally.

    Also, I would love to tag along for the trips to the museum! I’m really analyzing the Williamson County Museum for the history in Georgetown and would be great to contrast it to a broader history in the Bob Hope Museum.

  2. March 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I’m very curious to see how the Bob Bullock museum trip pans out. It was a common destination for Austin school field trips, yet I have no memory of black experience being memorialized. It’s interesting to me that I have no memory of this. Maybe it’s just the fact I was in elementary school, or maybe there really is little information there. I look forward to seeing how this goes!

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