My name is Meagan and I am currently a first year student at Thompson Rivers University in the Bachelor of Arts program. I am 18 years old and have a passion for reading and writing. I have an interest in history and the topic of women’s rights has always been something I wanted to explore and advocate for. I absolutely love animals and love going to petting zoos and all those kinds of things, and that explains the picture with the kangaroo! Throughout my childhood, my family moved a lot and about three years ago we decided to move to Kamloops and we have happily been here since!
I intend to pursue a career in teaching as I have always had a passion for learning and have taken part in leadership activities where I teach lessons to students on issues such as bullying and harassment. I want to be able to teach lessons of my own as this has always been a major goal in my life.
If someone were to ask me what made me want to take a history course, I would have to say that I am not sure. Maybe it’s that I wanted to learn more about women’s rights; or the reading and writing involved; or perhaps even just for the experience. However, I am very glad I took this History 1120 course and I am excited to share my experience of learning and “doing” history with you all!
Something you all may find interesting is that I took all the pictures that are posted on my blog I took myself! As well, all the locations are in Canada and range from here in Kamloops, BC to Ottawa, ON!
As I have stated previously, in this history class we learned how to do history rather than just learn about history. Throughout the semester we had many opportunities to ‘do’ history, such as the reading logs, the document analysis and the research paper.
In all honesty, at first I was frustrated with myself because I had absolutely no idea how to ‘do’ history, much less write a paper on it. Despite this, I tried and most definitely made a lot of rough drafts of my work. Trying to find a proper interpretation of the source you were analyzing was, at least for me, one of the most difficult parts. I was quite concerned, especially in the beginning of the semester, that I would not make a proper interpretation of the source and be completely off from what it was actually trying to say.
However, as I gained more confidence my writing got stronger and I believe I was able to make better interpretations of the sources as the semester went on. I guess being able to ‘do’ history just takes some practice.
This is the mind map I created in class on what it means to do history and thinking historically. For my mind map, I took a slightly different approach than most people. Overall, I am not a very visual person and I prefer to use words to describe my thoughts rather than pictures. I took the concept of a picture mind map but instead of using pictures, I used only a couple of words or concise phrases to explain my ideas in a simple manner. However, to still give it a visual aspect I used multiple different colours on my mind map to make it more visual and to also make it pop. I would say that my mind map is a fairly accurate representation of what actually goes on in my head when I am thinking historically and trying to connect ideas together.
Since this was my first research paper, at first it was difficult to figure how to write it, and even start it. However, after I wrote this paper I felt as if I had a grasp on how to write a research paper and this helped with other classes I had to write major papers for. One of these classes was English, where we wrote a research paper as well. The research paper for my history class in a way, helped me to prepare for my English research paper.
It gave me useful techniques for finding information within a source, as well as just finding sources. For the document analysis project I went to Brenda Smith in the library for help finding sources and it was very rewarding. She gave me useful skills on how to find different sources all over the library on campus.
As well, it helped me create a “writing voice” for myself. I was able to figure out what I wanted my message to say in any paper I wrote and how to sound scholarly and professional. This paper was a rewarding assignment that contained lessons that I took and applied to other classes as well!
The research paper was a very interesting assignment, and it was my first experience in writing one. I enjoyed this assignment because we got to choose a topic that we like or even were passionate about, which generally was not something that was done in high school. I decided to write my paper on Women in New France and their roles. This was an intriguing topic for me as I am very interested in women’s rights and I wanted to learn what their roles were like during this time period and even how they were viewed. Although this project was something I was very interested in writing, I struggled with trying to choose a direction that I wanted to take with it. In the end, I think this research paper turned out very well. Here is a small part of my research paper on the Roles of Women in New France:
As well, a common belief of Jesuits was that women were allies of Satan. This is because, “They were particularly dangerous as sexual, pleasure-seeking beings.” They thought that because women were weaker than men and needed to be governed by them that women were also “more easily duped and seduced by Satan.” Women who showed even the slightest hint of independence, of spirit, a hint of operative sexuality, or who were not controlled by their husbands or fathers were considered to be unnatural. It could be interpreted that these views could come from the fact that men simply did not trust women and this is why these views were formed. These views the Jesuits had against women were originally from France and were carried over to the colonies.
Despite the beliefs of many people, “women did not believe their primary role was to please.” In New France women had many other duties, such as helping her husband maintain the farm. In many cases, “Farms could not function without women’s dairying, poultrykeeping, and gardening.” Women in New France worked very hard, but were still viewed as inferior to men. In 1825, females in the labour force were twenty-seven percent higher than at the end of the nineteenth century. Perhaps in the early nineteenth century there were more job opportunities for women. Women were viewed as homemakers and mothers, but during this time women had to work in order to help provide for her family.
At the end of semester, after we had done two major assignments for interpreting historical sources, I think I finally have a grasp on what “doing” history is. For our final reading log, we had to write about what history is and how you do it. This was my response to that reading log:
History is the study of events and people throughout a certain period of time. It is analyzing documents, photos, government files, and many others in order to truly know what happened in that period. History is taking an interpretation of events that took place and exploring what people did, felt and etcetera during a certain event.
Throughout this course, I have learned new techniques for analyzing sources in order to get a proper interpretation and understanding of the particular source. I have learned through this course that you cannot learn how to do history through a textbook. In order to do history, you must simply take an interpretation of a source, analyze other sources to make sure you are on the right track and take on the mindset of a person in that era.
Comparing this response to what I thought history was at the beginning of the semester, I have learned a lot about history and how you do it. My views have changed quite a lot as to what I believe history is and how it is done.
Throughout this course a major theme has been not learning about history, but ‘doing’ it. At the beginning of the semester, I wasn’t quite sure what ‘doing’ history was. I always thought history was a class where you sat in your chair and took notes while the instructor gave you lectures on what happens in certain periods of time. This was what we did in high school for the most part. At the beginning of the semester, this is what I thought history was and how you did it:
History is the study of the past and analyzing the way people react, think and work in certain situations. You 'do' history by reading and studying different aspects of the past. Whether these aspects are events, people or ways of life. By analyzing, you can learn a lot about history.
The first reading log was the most difficult. Going into writing it, I didn’t have a very good idea of what was expected of me and my writing. Eventually, after writing a couple of the reading logs and getting input from my professor, my reading logs slowly progressed. Feedback I received were things such as creating a road map and organization, which were things I tried to focus on moving into the other reading logs and my assignments. Here is my first reading log as an example:
The main thesis of this reading is to introduce the reader to history. Some ideas this reading introduces are historical sources, testing the reliability of sources and exhibiting the different aspects of history. It was written to review the basics to studying history. It is able to shed light on our understanding of the Canadian past by reviewing the basics in order to give the reader insight on how to study history. Some examples of this are demonstrating how perspectives and sources are constantly changing, as well as giving example questions for how to test the reliability of a source. The argument held in this reading is very convincing. It uses multiple examples to support the main thesis and the other arguments provided.
The author took some primary sources to support his argument. Mainly, he drew upon paintings and documents to reinforce the topic. This reading contributes to the wider historiography on this topic because it is explaining and going into great detail on the different aspects of history that will be studied throughout the textbook.
This reading made me very excited to get to learn more about the different aspects of Canadian history. I found reading about testing sources and the basics of history to be very intriguing. After reading the article for the first time, I was slightly confused and wasn’t sure what message the author was trying to convey. However, after I read it a second time the material made sense and I became very interesting in the reading. Something that I would like to discuss further is the current state of the historical writing in Canada. This is one of the topics I found the most intriguing and yet the most difficult wrap my head around.
In this course, reading logs were required to be done weekly and in doing this we analyzed articles from certain events in Pre Confederation Canada. These reading logs, although somewhat difficult at first, really helped me get a good idea on how to make a proper interpretation of the articles. They also helped in my assignments, such as the research paper, the document analysis, and even in other classes.
At first, making reflections on my readings and having to interpret documents was difficult. I did not know how to put my thoughts into words I could use to express what I thought was happening in the articles. It was a new and different kind of learning than what I was used to.
However, as more and more reading logs went by, it became easier to pick out what the article was trying to say and it became easier to make an analysis. The seminars were helpful with this aspect because we were able to discuss the material and make an even more clear interpretation and reflection on the past, and in turn, the articles we were reading.