Research Reflection and Progress Report
After two full weeks of class and topic exploration, I have developed a more concrete idea of censorship and of the cases I am interested in studying in the final project. However, in pursuit of this progress, I navigated through many challenges and opportunities last week. As a result, I spent time at the end of the week and over the weekend reflecting on those challenges and creating plans of action to address them.
First, although I never anticipated that I would face feelings of intimidation over taking on a large, semi-independent research project (at least not so early in the course), I battled through those feelings last week. After class on Wednesday evening, my researcher partner informed me that she had accepted another opportunity and would have to drop the course. Immediately, I was left with the difficult question of if, and how, to continue research on the project. To be honest, I spent a lot of hours debating whether I felt I could manage the project independently, especially sense the course is designed for team research.
However, after consulting with my advisor and spending time in reflection, I decided I had to try and I found that I had enough resources and ability to feel confident in completing the project. Going forward, I just have to make sure that I remember that revelation and learn to use my resources effectively.
After strengthening my resolution, I turned to case discovery research with increased excitement and a more determined disposition. Soon, my perseverance resulted in the discovery of case that, for me, ignited a burning curiosity that aligns with the titular focus of the course.
Early on, during an initial class session, my research partner and I discussed our interest in exploring cases of censored Appalachian authors, specifically Lee Smith. Yet, even after a week of extended exploration, I had not found any pronounced censorship cases on Lee Smith’s work.
However, I did find several cases where Appalachian novels had been the subject the controversy.
Ultimately, I found kindling in a New York Times article with the headline, “How Censorship Efforts by Religious Right Disrupt Education” (Katz, 1992). In the article, Leanne Katz (1992) gives several examples of how conservative, religious groups censor books and other works, including one case where “In Hillsville, Va., a radio evangelist, J. B. Lineberry, demanded that the country’s Teacher of the Year, Marion Goldwasser, be fired for ‘doing the work of the devil’ by teaching Clyde Edgerton’s novel, ‘The Floatplane Notebooks’” (para. 4).
The slim description of the case immediately captured my attention, so I followed-up reading the article by searching key words and phrases on the internet: Book Banned in Hillsville VA, Marion Goldwasser, “The Floatplane Notebooks” Challenged in VA, and a few other variations of the phrases.
At first, my searches did not yield pages of fruitful results (as I had hoped), but after more than an hour of combing through search engines, I found several descriptive and credible resources, which I compiled into a google document. For example, in an article from News & Record, Jim Schlosser (1992) provides a detailed account of the case. Even more intriguing, Marion Goldwasser (1997), the educator involved in the challenge, wrote an account of the case titled, “Censorship: It Happened to Me in Southwest Virginia—It Could Happen to You”.
Next, I continued exploration by viewing sites that provided information relevant to the case, even if not directly related to the case. Most notably, I found the website of the school district that was involved with the case, Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS Technology Department, n.d.). On the site, I found a document that contained a section outlining the process for parents or community members to present complaints to the school administration (CCPS Technology Department, n.d.)
Conducting this preliminary research ultimately gave shape to the path I will have to travel continue progressing on the project. With the challenges of last week past, I have set specific and accomplishable several goals to accomplish by the end of this week.
First, I have contacted the research librarian at my college and will schedule an interview for later in the week, ideally Tuesday or Wednesday. I anticipate that I will be able to provide a reflection on the meeting in next week’s blog post. In addition, I am also going to visit the special collections unit in my library by Thursday of this week, if only to become formally introduced to the idea of non-digitized archival research. I am particularly hopeful that my research librarian can provide some insight into working in special collections.
Second, I am going to reach out by email to the administration of the school board that was involved with the case later this evening, and at latest, by Tuesday morning.
Third, I am going to locate a copy of Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks and begin reading the novel by Friday of this week. In addition to finding the novel, I am going to continue to compile online research to find more sources that will enrich my understanding of the case and allow me to start identifying specific parties to consider for focus research and interviews.
CCPS Technology Department. (n.d.). Curriculum & Instruction. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from https://www.ccpsd.k12.va.us/departments/curriculum-instruction
Workman Publishing. (2012, September 15). [Book Cover of Edgerton’s “The Floatplane Notebooks”]. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from https://www.workman.com/products/the-floatplane-notebooks/
Goldwasser, M. M. (1997). Censorship: It happened to me in Southwest Virginia–It could happen to you. The English Journal, 86(2), 34-42. doi:10.2307/819671
Katz, L. (1992, December 11). How censorship efforts by religious right disrupt education. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/1992/12/11/opinion/l-how-censorship-efforts-by-religious-right-disrupt-education-328692.html
Schlosser, J. (1992, June 14). Censors take aim; Targets stand firm\ Book fuels morality debate. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from https://www.greensboro.com/censors-take-aim-targets-stand-firm-book-fuels-morality-debate/article_b1c7ad90-f0ed-59da-a3a4-2e6ca66c4f64.html
CannonDesign (n.d.). University of virginia’s College at Wise, New Library, Wise, Va [Photograph found in Wise, Va]. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from https://www.cannondesign.com/our-work/work/university-of-virginias-college-at-wise-new-library/