Making it Personal: Cultivating a Research Project that Loves You Back

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From Ansong's original event description:

"The only way your research will show you affection is if you sing to it, caress it, and kiss it.

This workshop discusses the personal and creative components of academic research. Academic research is often objective and requires a delicate approach to a subject in which the researcher seems distant. Topics that researchers interrogate are often pre-owned; the role of the researcher is to simply introduce an aspect of the work, never seen, never heard of or slightly touched. Sometimes, the process can be long, daunting, and isolating. However, when the task is approached with vigor and enthusiasm this is not the case: the researcher is able to recreate the same spark that initially drove them to the body of work. Any investigation should be an adventurous exploration into the self and the canon.

In discovering the personal and creative aspect of my research, I began on the surface, looking at theories of home as represented by African women writers, like Adichie, Bulawayo and Aidoo. As a Ghanaian, this was personal, I could hear the conversations of these women as I read and wrote. But I wanted more. These women led me to the ancient North African civilizations and its use of symbols in caves( Henry Louis Gates Jnr’s African Civilizations on PBS). These symbols resembled the 100+ Adinkra symbols I had encountered growing up in Ghana. Just then, my research had opened itself to me with multitude avenues of possibility. In analyzing the Adinkra symbols, I draw on historical and literary theories as well as prose, poetry, and poetics: I travel from North America to West Africa.

Using Bard College’s Language and Thinking model of private writing and focused free-writing, participants will brainstorm questions and ideas that teach them ways to be present with their work in an exciting, personal, and meaningful way."