Over the summer, I applied for the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) Grants for Researchers with Heavy Teaching Loads. I was honestly unsure of my chances with this grant, although I absolutely fit the criteria to a T, in my opinion. Well, dear readers, I was notified last week that I WON THE GRANT! This news has reinvigorated my research agenda and given me an academic self-esteem boost that I really needed.
With my book proposal currently under external review with a publisher, I haven’t moved too far forward on any of my planned upcoming research projects. If I were to consider my various plans, they could amount to nearly two or three books scheduled for the next several years! However, as a visiting appointment with a 4-4 load, I have very little support or opportunity to conduct sustained research or to travel for research. Enter the ASTR Grant.
The research proposal I submitted to ASTR is something I’ve wanted to get started on for a while. I came across the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) during my dissertation research and haven’t had a chance to research them in any real depth. They were an activist organization in the 1970s dedicated to promoting women’s rights and were radical intersectional feminists before we even used that terminology. I know they had a theatre/performance wing, and put on plays, but there is no secondary research available about this. Fortunately, Smith College has their archives!
And so, my plan is to visit the archives at Smith and spend some time exploring the 7 boxes worth of material housed in the Sophia Smith Collection. I don’t know yet what I’ll find–I need to get in touch with the librarians and archivists there, of course–but I am excited about a new research adventure and the ASTR Grant has made this possible.
In the same collection are the archives of the Theatre of Light and Shadow, which was a women’s performance collective that I know nothing about; they just happen to have the entry above the TWWA in the list of finding aids at the Sophia Smith Collection website. There are 10 boxes of material related to this group, so I’m hoping I will have enough time to poke through some of those items, as well.
Given the already tight constraints of the fall semester, I am tentatively setting my research trip for spring break 2017. As it happens, the library with the collections will be closed next June through August for relocation, so a summer trip is right out. Once I have a little more time to plan and have gotten in touch with the library, I’ll have a better idea of what I’ll need to do and how long it will take. Either way, I am so happy to have this opportunity.
Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, hating even those of us who have degrees and employment in the field. I feel quite confident in my pedagogy on any given day, but I often feel shaky in my research. I know I have something to offer my field, and I enjoy the process of research and writing (sometimes, anyway!), but I am often plagued by self doubt and procrastination. Of course, these are intensely normal feelings, or so I am told. But they are still hard to shake. But winning a grant based on your own ideas and plans goes a long way to making you feel at least a bit more confident. And so here’s to the rest of the fall semester, with more confidence and less impostering!