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The Uses of Different Forms of Dialogue as a Brainstorming Technique

Coming into the ACM Newberry Seminar program, I only knew I wanted to research something related to Children's Literature; this is my self-selected specialty, and my desired field of study after I graduate this upcoming June. But I didn't (and still don't really) know what era, type, geographical location -- European, a certain country within Europe, etc. -- I wanted to look at. I'm using the seminar here to count for Senior Seminar for my Literature major, so the research paper I produce needs to in some way be "literary" enough. And that's where I'm hitting a roadbloack. All the papers I can think of to research would be super interesting, but not necessarily a literary analysis paper. Thankfully, I'm beginning to come up with ideas that I think would qualify my paper as a literary analysis, but I still need to check with my senior seminar professor back at Knox to fully make sure.

Thankfully, since the Seminar began just over a week ago, I've since begun developing ideas for my research project and using various different forms for brainstorming. Currently, I'm thinking of looking at how adult concepts -- primarily that of evil -- are integrated into picture books and how children are more cognizant of these concepts than we as adults might want them to be. While concept maps are decent places to start, I've always found having actual dialogue with a person is more helpful because it allows to me talk out my ideas and gage people's reactions and have a more organic conversation with them. Recently, I've been having a multitude of dialogues with people about my project: two conversations in person with other people in the Seminar, and one over Skype instant messaging with my sister. 

I got different things out of each of my three conversations. In the first two, I was just talking about my project ideas in general terms with some of my fellow ACM Newberry scholars, and then one with my roommate, and both these dialogues surprisingly helped a lot. In these two dialogues, I was able to talk more quickly and get immediate gratification and responses based on what I was saying, which led to a quicker flow of thoughts and conversation. It was the first time I had really made an effort to talk about my project outside of the time that we were brainstorming our concept maps together in small groups during seminar last week, and this time -- in contrast to the time in seminar -- I didn't feel restricted by time constraints. I tend to ramble and use too many words -- side effect of being an English major perhaps? -- so having unlimited time to talk is both a blessing and a curse. Regardless, having multiple people to simultaneously bounce ideas off of was extremely useful, in that I got two different opinions and thoughts at the same time. The most useful tidbit I got out of these conversation was the idea of possibly integrating some other form of children's media -- tv shows, movies -- into my research project and seeing how they compare. In the conversation with my roommate, she had the idea I could look at Grimm's Fairy Tales and the Disney adaptations of the movies and see how they compare with the original. I don't know how literary it is, but I'd like to try and make it work I fear this might lean too far towards the "not literary research paper!" side though. So. We'll see about that. 

The skype conversation I had with my sister was interesting as well. I often bounce ideas off of her using skype instant messaging, so I'm pretty used to the idea of waiting for replies, but there also was that bit of anxiety and frustrations with "I don't know what this person is going to say or how they're going to say it" and also worries of about she might respond and how quickly she's going to respond. However, though I'm very familiar with brainstorming with her, I was a little disappointed in the conversation. It kind of ended abruptly and then we moved onto a different topic. I suppose the same can happen during an in-person conversation, but with instant messaging about my topic, it was more "well, we're done talking about that now". Regardless, I still feel like our conversation was fruitful in some way and I will continue to use her as a place to dump ideas -- a cauldron of thoughts, as she put it. 

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