As I am trying to sort out what I would like to research this semester in the ACM Newberry Seminar at the Newberry Library this fall, I have been having a variety of conversations with others in order to solidify what I would like to discuss. In one of my recent conversations with my roommate, Lindsay Hansard, we discussed the possibilities with both of our projects and ended up discussing the similarities and differences between two of our discplines: Religious Studies and Philosophy. While not exactly related to my project in terms of it's specific focus, I ended up finding our conversation very useful for considering how I might approach my topic, what kinds of sources I might privilage, and what my intended purpose was with my research. Talking with someone one on one can always be so useful when I am brainstroming, because it allows a very quick back and forth and a lot of information to be communicated through dialogue rather quickly.
The other recent conversation I had about my project was actually over text message with my good friend who goes to school at UW-Madision up in Madison, WI. Discussing anything over texting can be interesting, but we had a surprisingly nice conversation throughout the day. The nice part of about having a discussion via text message is that you can respond when it's convenient, but there's an expectation about responding somewhat frequently, which in that sense makes it nicer for conversation than email. The biggest downside: it can be very difficult to express complex ideas without sending a message that is in 10 parts. We navigated it though, and it forced me to try to be very concise about what I wanted to express. Kelly Fatten, my friend from Madison, is a psychology major so like Lindsay she discussed how she might approach some of my questions from her own field. I always appreciate getting another side, althoguh it tends to just complicate the way I was thinking instead of making it simpler.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I do not know that I have a much clearer idea of what I would like to research. I am still really interested in this question of the ethics of studying historical peoples compared to living peoples, but I am having trouble figuring out which direction would be the most fruitful way to discuss that topic. There are also a lot of other things I would really love to study, but nothing is really sitting right with me yet where I know where I want to go. I ordered some books from our iShare resources we have access to through the Newberry of people I really admire like Jonathan Z. Smith's Map is not Territory: studies in the history of religions, Martha Nussbaum's Uphevals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, and Genealogies of Religion: disipline and reasons of power in Christianity and Islam. Hopefully, reading some more work by people who really inspire me, as well as continuing to have these informal conversations, will help to give me more concrete ideas about what I would like to pursue this semester.