New Ways of Researching

 

New Ways of Researching

Working on a humanities research project has proved to be challenging in ways I had not expected. Choosing a topic to study was simple with the guidance of my project advisor. I have pursued learning about the life and work of Maria Sibylla Merian. Merian was an entomologist and artist from the late 1600s. She made tremendous strides for the understanding of insects, ecosystems, and metamorphosis at the time when most believed in spontaneous generation. While she was alive, she was not recognized for her immense scientific findings; Merian was buried in a paupers grave. Her research work in Suriname, South America studying insects that Europeans had never imagined is fascinating. I have learned about the interactions she had with the native populations in Suriname as well as the incredible accomplishments her daughters made while following in their mother’s footsteps. All of this information has made me admire Maria Sibylla and the work that she’s done.

My admiration for this woman of the past is the main reason I have struggled with my project. My assignment is to enter information about a historical figure into a database entitled Itinera. The database collects and displays specific information in order to present the relationships and travels of each person. Representing the complexities of Merian’s life outside of the traditional narrative structured pushed me to find ways to convey some of what i find most compelling about her life in a way that works with Itinera’s format without erasing Merians life. Itinera has focused my research on building a network of social relationships and maps of her impressive travels. I have never done research where I am specifically searching for names and dates; In the past, I have always read a piece hoping to gain a better understanding of a person or an understanding of their life in a new, novel way. This challenge has forced me to learn to do research in a different way.

Although I wish I could display some more detail concerning the information that I think makes Maria’s life memorable, I have soaked up a story of a historical figure I had previously known nothing about. I am inspired by the work she has done and can continue my research on Maria in my future. For now, I am still trying to add to the Itinera database and maybe inspire a user of the site to study Maria as well.

 

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  • Current Projects
  • Itinera
  • VMW