I just finished writing an Intellectual Biography for my Intro to Historical Research class. It’s as pretentious and crazy as it sounds. I was supposed to write out for the class’s viewing pleasure my education, interesting classes I’ve taken, ideas that intrigue me, why I’m taking the class (it’s not easy to come up with a sophisticated way to say “because it’s required”), and my ideas for my terminal paper.
The topic for the paper has to be related somehow to 20th century Europe, which leaves me at a loss, since I’m a medieval/early modern enthusiast. I settled on either parallels between Irish political strife in the ’20s & ’30s and rumblings about reunification in the past ten years. Yeah, it’ll never happen, but it’s nice to think about. My favorite idea involves looking at the stratification of Belfast society over the last sixty-ish years and explaining how that led both to the troubles and to a basic inability to settle a lasting peace in the region that’s pretty much frustrated lawmakers’ attempts to improve the standard of living in the “Catholic” neighborhoods of Belfast. I’m ridiculously excited about the latter option. We’ll see!
This is my biggest paper this semester, and Dr. Jones expects it to be original scholarship that’s potentially publishable in university journals. This has to be a professional-level paper. I’m almost tempted to whine that this is my first year, dad-gummit, and I’m not even a week in! How can you expect me to do this sort of thing already? Oh well, go big or go home, right?