30 July 2015

Researching a Project and Using Note Cards

don't do much of my own research-based writing, because I teach at a community college. Community colleges don't require research of their professors--even those who are full time. We just teach a lot more--even with a few lit courses and department chair duties mixed in, I teach at least six sections of composition per year. It's a lot of work. 

That being said, I would rather teach students to write solid, well-developed research papers than teach them to write "better" poetry or to appreciate shitty-but-classic novels. Teaching composition is just what I do well, and there's coincidentally less bullshit involved.

As my tattooed-lady project unfolds and I discover more sources, I have decided to start taking photos of my note-taking and research organization. That's really why I mention my teaching--I want to be able to eventually show students that I teach them the same techniques I use myself. We'll see if that makes any difference when I use examples from my own research work in class.

Below is a current shot of my coffee table. (No worries--most of those index cards are still blank.) Everything in pink (highlighting, post-its, and notecards) is general sideshow information that will become part of the first chapter/essay/whatever of introduction and context. I use post-it notes to flag the pages where notecard info is located. Obviously, I own that book. 

At this point, I have read/re-read at least eight books. I have note cards pulled from (and annotations complete in) four of them, and I'm working through the fifth book today. Three more books are waiting in a stack on my dining-room table. There they are. I'll talk more about them later. 

I have about a dozen articles bookmarked on my laptop as well, and I just ordered three more probably-crappy, self-published tattoo "history" books today (with what might be the last spare bit of credit-card balance I have). I also need to go to campus to pull a few texts from the library and make photocopies from them. The stack of sources below have already been put through the wringer. 

On a side note, it's starting to look like I might need to go to Winston-Salem, NC and San Fransisco this coming winter--and both trips will hinge on whether or not the owners of private tattoo museums will open displays to let me see the back sides of certain photographs. The prospect of that--asking and being turned down--is working on my anxiety big time. 

So, for now--note cards. Color-coded and organized. Print sources only, and no travel. Breathe in, breathe out.

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