For the past couple of weeks I’ve been deeply immersed in my newest project—reviewing and cataloging main topics in the Martin Duberman interviews. Duberman is the author of Black Mountain: an Exploration in Community. For his book, Duberman interviewed many former students and teachers of Black Mountain College. (Most of) the interviews have been released to the public, but researchers till run into the problem of shuffling through the extensive amount of materials in hopes of finding a specific topic that they are looking for. My task is to read through each individual interview and create a list of major topics or theme for each. Take, for instance, Josef and Anni Albers. The interview with them contained information about the past, education, how they came to be at BMC, relationships and interactions with other individuals at the college, their individual contributions to art, etc. I took at least 3 pages of notes on the Albers’ alone! The amount of materials that I have to work through is slightly daunting, but this has been perhaps my favorite project to date. As indicated in my last post, I am planning on doing my senior research project on BMC and how aspects of Marxist theory were woven into the politics and community life of the college. I have already run into multiple topics of interest to investigate for my project just within the first two days! I tremble to think of what else I will run into over the course of this semester! When I complete the interviews and my list, I will make a word document that can be used by researchers to see whether or not a certain topic is mentioned in an interview. This will save researchers a huge amount of time that they may then devote to examining other materials for their studies.
As enjoyable as this project is (and will continue to be, I’m sure), I wasn’t prepared for how long it would take me to go through the interviews. In my first day I only made it through the first 36 pages of the Albers’ interview, and that was only half! Some interviews have close to or over 100 pages. I am positive that I will get faster, but I was still surprised. I had expected the work to go by much quicker. Although there is a very good chance that I will not get faster, as I have also run across the issue of getting lost in the interviews, something that is actually quite easy to do. Upon going through the Albers’ interview (which was the first that I did), I realized that I would spend a large chunk of time on a single page because I has such a desire to absorb everything that was being said as opposed to picking out major topics. Although I know I should try to work on this particular problem of mine, I don’t really know if I want to… because I am enjoying the interviews so much! Reconstructing the world of BMC is completely, utterly fascinating. One major perk of this particular project is the fact that, since the interviews are all released to the public and since the archive allows copies of materials to be made, I have the ability to make copies of the interviews and work from home. As soon as Heather informed me of this possibility, I immediately made plans to take advantage of this! I currently have three interviews resting beside me, just waiting for me to peruse them in the relaxation of my own office! Needless to say, I am very excited about the opportunities and knowledge that this project has and promised to continue providing.