Semester Reflections

This class, and project, has assumed an especially emotional place for me. It’s the last class I will take per my Masters Degree. This culminates a two year odyssey that I can’t believe is about to come to an end. All of which has given me some pause and time and to reflect on a few things that have stood out to me this semester:

1. It was cool to actually utilize some of the tools and skills I picked up in Public History classes in 2017. Although I still struggle greatly with being concise when trying to tell a narrative, I think I am getting better at it. As an aside, not being an American Studies major, it does seem to that there are a lot of overlaps between it and Public History. Which is maybe another way of saying I have no idea how to define what each discipline specifically is? Which I think is fine. I think I can say that at the end of the day each is constantly evolving, sort of like aiming at a constantly moving target. Both seem to be centered on working with communities, or groups of people. Which effectively means that you are giving up control of your final product to a variable that is naturally beyond your control. That at first can be hard to reconcile, but it’s something I’ve learned to embrace.

2. It was great to actually be at a class in Baltimore City, focusing on a project that is directly about the city. My research focus, independent of this class, has and will continue to be Baltimore. To me, Baltimore is like this never-ending novel that I can’t help but keep reading. This is despite a reality that constantly seems to be telling me to give up. Many of my old friends have left the city, and many others talk about doing so everyday. I think part of what keeps me here is that novel idea. That tomorrow I might learn something new, and potentially extremely disturbing, about the place I’ve called home for the better part of a decade. It kind of feels like this impossible quest that I have to finish, like reading Infinite Jest or something (which I haven’t done). Either way it keeps me coming back. This class succeeded in filling out a missing chapter in that greater story. I didn’t know much about the southwest, and now I do. I’m grateful for that.

3. This class has given me confidence about my skills as an historian and academic. Prior to starting my Masters degree in 2016, I had no formal background in history. I got my undergrad degree in guitar performance in 2009 (it seems much longer ago than that). I played music and toured all over the world between 2010-2016. By the end of it, I felt pretty much in a rut. Music was not paying the bills and I was honestly growing to resent it. The decision to go for the history degree was kind of a whimsical decision. One which I honestly didn’t think would happen because I wouldn’t get in to the program. When I did, I was ecstatic, though I still had no idea what was ahead of me. My first class, I was basically like “holy shit, what was I thinking”. Everyone else had history undergrad degrees, or worked in museums or archives. I was just a guitar player. Now two years later, it kinds of astounds me how much that has changed. I know so much now about 20th Century American History. I think I could easily handle a classroom full of high schoolers ( not that I want to). Throughout the semester, it was a humbling experience to have some of my classmates ask me various questions about the history of Baltimore, or how to poke and prod through archives and databases, to the point where it made me think “Ok I know what I’m talking about, I got this”. That’s something I didn’t have before this spring, and it makes me feel reasonably good going forward into the “real world”.

Thanks Prof. King and all you guys for an engaging class! Greatly looking forward to our event! GO TEAM!

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