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History, Italian Studies, & Religious Studies
Featured Researcher: Jessica Hogbin
Research has given me the opportunity to expand my horizons and get to read books that I simply wouldn't normally have time for during the school year.
1. Briefly describe your research project and its importance.
I do research on noblewomen from the early modern period (16th century through the 18th century), with an emphasis on Italy. Specifically, I have been doing historiographical work, which means reading secondary sources written by historians which account the lives of these women and seeing how historians opinions, techniques, and methodology have changed over time. The views of a 21st century historian and a 17th century historian on early modern noblewomen would obviously be different, and my research is helping to see how so. This research not only helps explain the roles of past women in politics and how it has been shaped by historians, but it also helps to demonstrate why the politics of the contemporary world exist as they do today.
2. How did you first get involved with research?
My freshman year, I mentioned to my history professor that I wanted to get involved in research. At the end of my freshman year, the professor kindly offered to act as my research mentor for the next year. I have now been doing research with him for nearly a year, and I'm incredibly grateful for the support and guidance I've gotten.
3.What does a day of researching look like for you (tools/methods/setting/etc.)?
A typical day of research starts off with me heading down to the library, as it is a quiet space that's conducive to history research. There, I am able to do everything from reading secondary source books that I check out from the library to using my laptop to look at scanned letters written in Italian from the seventeenth century. As a historian, language is one of the tools that I use every day, so I spend about fifty percent of my time reading books, articles, or letters in Italian.
4. What surprised you about doing research?
I was most surprised about the diversity of research that is being done on the WVU campus. During this summer, I've gotten to meet many other undergraduate researchers, and the assortment of fields and areas of study has blown me away. Not only have I gotten to meet people with similar interests to my own, I've also gotten to meet people whose area of focus has been completely different from my own.
5. What’s a challenge that you’ve had in your research experience and how did you overcome it?
Since my research focuses on Italy, I often have to work with documents in another language. I've been working on my skills in Italian for the last two years, but it is often challenging and discouraging when I'm not able to translate a word or phrase. However, learning is part of researching, and I have found my skills improving in a way that makes me incredibly grateful for the time I spent practicing my language skills during research.
6. What do you like most about doing research?
I absolutely love reading a well-written book, especially when it deals with the period of history that I am passionate about. Research has given me the opportunity to expand my horizons and get to read books that I simply wouldn't normally have time for during the school year.
7. How do you spend your time when you’re not researching?
I spend a lot of my time doing work with some of the many student organizations at WVU, which allow for me to meet other students on campus. This past year, I was the president of the Italian Studies Club and Helvetia, the sophomore student honorary at WVU. For my junior year, I am excited to be the president of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honorary, and Chimes, the junior student honorary.