Research: A Final Reflection

The process of research has been long and grueling, yet the work finally draws to a close alongside the school year. The paper itself, meant to reflect our interests not only as humanities students, but as people, has been a difficult task to overcome. As this research has developed, I have matured in my studies of the humanities and in the sport that I have chosen as the object of my research, and my understanding of medieval combat has greatly increased as a result. While I did have numerous points at which I did struggle, such as with my sources and my methods of research, I found a successful means to conclude my efforts and find a proper thesis to build my paper around.

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As I moved through the motions with my research paper, I constantly needed to revise my thesis and try to develop a different argument around different stances to accommodate my peculiar topic of medieval combat as a sport. My first draft was almost completely unusable due to the fact that it followed a more speculative thesis instead of an analytical one. Thus, I have now adopted a narrow, more analytical focus revolving around the sport as something beyond reenactment, something much more developed and articulated in its nuances and machinations. It is with these words that I reflect on this new thesis, which, while not still troublesome, will be the final thesis that I shall work with for the paper at hand and for Humanities Core in general. As reflections go, this post is not simply a reflection on the time spent on this paper, but it shall also reflect on my time spent in Hum Core over this past year.

Humanities Core has instilled within me many new ideas and thoughts, and caused me to rethink some of my basic understandings about war and its combatants, as well as the nature of mankind in general. War as a theme has served as a conveyance of expressions of the beautiful and disgusting aspects of combat, the enlightening and the stomach churning alike. While war is often a destruction of lives and cultures, it has been a teacher to myself and many to bring us all a single step closer to understanding some primal aspects about our fellow human that we are much more privy to than ever before. While this may be coming to an end, the lessons that we have learned here have only just begun for the many who pursue greater understanding in the humanities.

Reflections on Research and Its Frustrations

Through the research I have conducted, I have made several steps toward understanding the topic I am investigating, as well as experiencing some frustrations that have impeded my progress. Upon starting my research, I had been hard pressed to find scholarly sources that could be used to evidence my points and aid me in my work. As such, I obsessively gathered pictures and took interviews that would allow for deeper understanding. After some time of digging through resources that didn’t necessarily help me and trying to find a stronger primary source than the book of war, I had become incredibly jaded towards my work and I wanted little more than to be done with the project altogether.


A beautiful recreation of my emotions after trying to complete initial research

Thanks to the efforts of one Professor Herrman, research has made decent progress. My primary source has been replaced by a more interesting, broader website filled with knowledge. New scholarly sources, with references to several other potential pieces of a similar caliber, have now come across my desk, giving me the chance to take solid strides in the direction of a complete research piece. Now that I have a stronger base to build up from, I expect that work on the research project will be, in general, much more fruitful and rewarding than it was beforehand.

The Research of A Monk Dubbed “Injury”

Over the past week, I used my position in Medieval Combat to the fullest and tried to gather information through interviews and stories that may help my research along in numerous ways. Donning the name that I use on the fields of war, “Injury”, I began to discuss many ideas about rules, identity on the battlefield, weaponry, and the state of politics in the sport. I was reminded of the importance of the rules as I dug further into the topic with the club vice president and several long time veterans. Swords clashed on swords as war rhetoric was thrown from behind a shield of walls, and I recorded as much of what was being said as possible.


Weapons check for safety and construction

My time spent doing club activities has allowed me to take a step closer to the research project, and gives me a unique insight on the nature of combat and the sport in general. While others are limited to understanding their projects through mediums, and might not ever be able to physically examine the object of their study, I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity granted to me by the proximity of my object of interest. Because I can simply walk a short distance and immerse myself into combat, I have been able to gather much data and several ideas for my research.


Combat between two fighters, each using short swords.

I have had to alter my research topic quite a bit in order to narrow my research. Originally, I had planned to simply compare Medieval Combat and war in general to try to create a conversation between the two. Then, my focus started to narrow before finally settling on comparing the rules of war and the rules of Medieval Combat, and trying to understand the differences and similarities between the two. Thus, I have taken it upon myself to thoroughly study the “Book of War”, the rule book for Medieval Combat, as well as the Geneva Conventions and rules of war over the years. Overall, my studies have greatly adapted to these new ideas and progress has been made towards an end goal.

Research Topic

My present plan for research is to investigate the idea of war without death and the connection that sports emulating war have with war itself. As professor Izenburg explained, “war is the artifactualization of death”, yet what happens to war when the concept of death is removed? The games replicating war, such as Medieval Combat, see combatants fight to the death and even die in epic manners, only to rise again in eternal conflict and recurring fighting. These sports go to great ends to reproduce war as it is imagined, and it is possible that we can infer different things from these man-made conflicts.

Many questions linger around the nature of this research. Why should games of war have anything to say about human nature of any relevant concept if they lack true death, a death that incurs some sort of loss in the combatants? Is death integral for a war to be considered anything more than a scuffle or a game? Do the mechanisms that describe conduct in a game lack any application to war and the conducting of such? All of these questions are paramount to the project as a whole, and will be discussed in full.

Sources for this project are, in short, low in supply. Since I have access to several meeting grounds for Medieval Combat, as well as several sports teams practicing in the ARC, I will be using the previous assignment’s experiences with gathering interviews and trying to gather my own sources to supplement what is available to me through the libraries and online archives.


Brandt, R. B.. “Utilitarianism and the Rules of War”. Philosophy & Public Affairs 1.2 (1972): 145–165. Web. 2 May 2016

Caston, Victor. Our Ancient Wars: Rethinking War Through the Classics. Digital image. Amazon. N.p., 6 Feb. 2016. Web. 2 May 2016.

Ikegami, Eiko. “Shame and the Samurai: Institutions, Trusthworthiness, and Autonomy in the Elite Honor Culture”. Social Research 70.4 (2003): 1351–1378. Web. 2 May 2016

ROBESON, LISA. “Noble Knights and ‘mischievous War’: The Rhetoric of War in Malory’s “le Morte Darthur””. Arthuriana 13.3 (2003): 10–35. Web. 2 May 2016

Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic, 1977. Print.

A Winter’s Reflection

This quarter spent in Humanities Core was one of numerous ups and a few downs. Lecture felt somewhat less organized compared to Fall quarter, though the discussion was a very nice change of pace compared to the last. My writing has vastly improved over the course of the quarter due to the exercises and tests performed for hum core. If I could, I would advise my past self on several matters to make things a bit easier on myself. This quarter has several points that deserve to be commented on, in both positive and negative lights.

The lectures of this quarter felt very different from those of the previous quarter. From Professor Fahs to Professor Szalay, the majority of the lectures took on an air of aloofness in regards to the material. Many a class was spent regarding things that were only loosely tied in with texts or films that we dealt with. For instance, Professor Fahs’s lecture on her father and the position of homosexual men during the great war felt very loosely involved with the events of the civil war and Frederick Douglass. We also saw Professor Lazo only touch upon “The Official Story” when it was a major film in the course of the quarter. Discussion, however, often made amends for this. Discussion often was very smooth, interactive, and cleared up any misconceptions that lecture created.

My writing has also vastly improved over the quarter. Whereas my first hum core paper received a C+, I have put my nose to the grindstone and managed to earn very solid B+’s in place of that. I legitimately enjoyed moving from blog post to blog post, from text to text, and seeing a heightened sense of textual awareness that I hadn’t yet discovered. I began to write short stories again with my new found confidence that I had gained from my persistence, and I look upon them with pride. If anything, my writing has excelled to greater heights than it has known in any time previous.

If I could travel back in time, through some manner or means beyond my knowledge, I would tell myself quite a few things. I would tell him to stop being lazy and try to take better care to note what goes on in his books. I would tell him to ask more questions in discussion and that he should write more. I would tell him that, above all else, he needs to like what he writes and to be confidant in how he writes. I would bestow him a plethora of other, lesser pieces of knowledge, but those are irrelevant to the point. If I could travel back to some moment, I would emphasize that I need to just try harder and keep moving forward.

All in all, this quarter is deemed as a success. Despite the chaotic lecture format, the discussions were interesting and enlightening. My writing is better than ever, and I am writing like there shall be no tomorrow. And even if I couldn’t go back in time to advise myself, I still think that the me of yesterday did the best he could and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


The Manchurian Candidate: Scenes of a Classic

The opening scene of “The Manchurian Candidate” is a very well staged scene that employs many film techniques to encapsulate the tone of the rest of the movie. The opening itself, brandishing a staunch, white sign that displayed time and place of the scene, gives the introduction a sense of exposition. The film tries to give the audience some context by alluding to the fact that this movie takes place in the Korean war. The sign fades to a pan shot of a military vehicle moving around a set of trees, letting the frame rest just in front of a nearby ramshackle building where the car parks. The scene cuts to a shot from inside the building, letting the camera shots bounce between medium shots as the camera follows Raymond. After Raymond finally enters the main room of the building, the camera plays with the angles of framing to capture the faces of the members of Raymond’s unit by bouncing back and forth between them and Raymond. These techniques add a very fast pace to the scene, making it feel almost overloading with how much it is trying to show in a small amount of time.

Manchurian Candidate.jpg

Mentioning time, it is very interesting how timing is used throughout this piece. The cut from when Raymond enters the building to when it shows Raymond walking down the hallway, while seeming instantaneous, probably had a time elapsing that isn’t known to the audience. Furthermore, the party inside the building was probably cued to happen in conjunction with the beginning of the scene. This helps keep the pace of the scene without revealing that the time actually passing isn’t equivalent to the time portrayed in the scene. This helps keep the tone that the producers intended: a very chaotic and fast paced momentum that Raymond brings to an abrupt halt when he begins blowing his whistle.


The motion of the scene helps add to the effect that the scene is creating. Raymond, when making his way to the main room of the building, is halted by two people kissing and blocking his way. Furthermore, the main room itself is a mass of movement that is presented in the point-of-view shot. This only ends when Raymond demands it to end with his whistle, and the entire motion of the shot suddenly freezes in response. The producers wanted to give a means to show just how much power Raymond has over his company, and how serious his demeanor is.

Music and sound plays an integral role in the effect of the scene. The diegetic music that plays from the party blares through the walls and gives a sense of discord even before Raymond gets to the party. The greatest sound throughout the clip, being the loudest, was Raymond’s whistle. All other diegetic noises are suddenly halted before this noise, dispersing the chaos that plagued the party. It shows the whistle as an instrument of Raymond’s authority over his company and his unwillingness to stand for the disgraceful actions set before him. It follows that the only other noises that remain in the scene until the next scene is dialogue Raymond has with his fellow company troops. While not present in the scene, it is worth noting that this scene lacks narration that helps along other stages of the movie. The lack of narration in this opening scene allows the audience to clearly identify for themselves what is going on in the scene and how the action brings meaning.


The Slenderman and Impressions An OP:ED of the Direction of Youth


On May 31st, 2014, America bore witness to the tragedy that was the Slenderman stabbings. A young girl was stabbed roughly nineteen times with relentless intent, almost dying in the process. The culprits behind this act, however, were not adults with malicious motives. Both culprits were children, and both were even in the same class as the young, twelve year old victim. The motive behind this act is as unbelievable as the perpetrators: both wanted to appease a fictional character known as the “Slender Man”. This stabbing is the result of young children experiencing media online that has no restrictions and no ways to prevent impressionable or mentally unsound minors from experiencing said media.

The internet today plays host to many different sources of entertainment. Many frequent sites like Hulu and Netflix for movies, and some enjoy playing an occasional game that caught their eye. There is, however, a very wide and varied collection of disturbing media that is in circulation today. Amongst these different collections lies a sub-genre that has taken many youths of today by storm: Creepy pasta. Creepy pasta, a collection of short stories belonging to the horror genre, makes it its goal to attempt to make readers uncomfortable or afraid of what they are reading, as is the purpose of most horror. Among the many ranks of the Creepy pasta genre lies none other than the Slender Man, along with many other fantastical and terrifying creatures. The true differences between the horror genre and Creepy pasta lies in both its audience and the accessibility of the material being posted.


Before going into how Creepy pasta has played into these children’s actions, it is worth noting exactly what Creepy pasta is and how it came about. Creepy pasta comes from the term “Copy pasta”, which is meant to describe the process of how many stories on the internet were copied and pasted throughout different forums. When a collection of horror stories began circulating, many dubbed the various macabre tales as “creepy pasta”. Over time, these Creepy pasta were eventually gathered into a large internet site, christened after said stories.


Creepy pasta’s main audience tends to be young adults and teenagers to children. The young girls behind the stabbing frequented the site and read many stories about the poster child of the site: The Slender Man. One of the children were deemed to be afflicted with schizophrenia, were tried in a Wisconsin court as adults for their act. These girls were exposed to a culture that they didn’t understand or fully grasp, and treated it as if it were reality. It’s quite obvious of how this internet sensation holds some fault for irresponsibly parading this culture around and pandering towards these poor minors.


The easy accessibility of these horrifying narratives also makes it greatly different from the typical horror story. Many systems of providing reading material, such as libraries and book stores, can limit or discourage certain individuals from reading certain texts. Society today often bans books or prevents more adult texts from falling into the hands of children too young, or perhaps too pliable. The internet knows no such limitations. Children can easily access media that is in no way meant for children to view, possibly even these short stories that could shock a stern adult. Creepy pasta may pander towards younger adults in practice, but is still material that needs restriction to prevent minors from misinterpreting the meaning or reality of the narratives. While horror fiction can be regulated, Creepy pasta is much more difficult to restrict due to the nature of the internet as a medium.

Hence lies the problem: Creepy pasta panders toward an audience that could easily misunderstand and act on what they read in a radical and illogical way. Creepy pasta indirectly led to the tragedy of the Slenderman stabbings because it allowed for two twelve year old girls, one being schizophrenic and delusional, to bring a peer to the brink of death in the name of a fictional character. Creepy pasta needs restriction and regulation to prevent this tragedy from reoccurring. While many authors and narratives have attempted to make amends for the actions of their genre, they continue to irresponsibly pander towards minors that could easily repeat the horrors brought about by these two twelve year old girls, in the name of some other fictional character.

OP-EDs and the Humanities

A few articles are interesting in their makeup and their arguments when put into conversation with each other. The articles in question, each with their own sources of publication and various topics, seem to have widely different degrees of value and worth. While all of these Op-Eds are credible and have different goals in mind, it is clear that these three stand in different regards to each other due to the effort and quality that is marginally dissimilar.

The first Op-Ed is an article from the Los Angeles Times that discusses a research project undertaken by UC Berkeley to develop a robotic emulation of a common cockroach. While the focus and concept of the Op-Ed is interesting, the content of the article itself is lacking in any call to action or awareness to any problem. Rather, it wastes diction, one that is less than constant and not often as serious as it should be, to simply describe a new technological feat that doesn’t meet the expectations to either the core reader or the steps to creating an Op-Ed. The only satisfying part of this article is its employment of knowledgeable experts throughout the piece, accurately evidencing the focus with little trouble. This piece, one that I find lacking in professional etiquette and appropriate language, is obviously an inferior Op-Ed that fails to properly convey what it wants to about the topic in question.

Robot Roach

The next Op-Ed is one of a higher caliber: a piece regarding a developing problem in Apple’s “iPhone” and how third party repairs are being attacked by the smartphone conglomerate. The article dictates that many iPhone users are dealing with a malicious error due to an update targeting repairs made by a third party. This Op-Ed is very serious about its concept, makes it’s purpose very clear, and uses various types of evidence to say what needs to be said. This article is much better than the previous because it suits the form of the Op-Ed in a much more appropriate fashion. This Op-Ed, however, is not without its flaws. The conclusion lacks the same draw that the introduction presented, and felt much weaker in terms of content and support. Furthermore, while using sources that are qualified, there could have been more support, such as by using a quote from an Apple executive on this subject. This Op-Ed, while decent and thorough, still doesn’t hold up to the quality of the final Op-Ed.

Scary Iphone

The final Op-Ed is particularly interesting in both subject and execution. The article addresses the rise in avian influenza strains in tandem with the world’s increasing hunger for poultry. The Op-Ed then goes on to mention potential factors for how several new strains are being created due to conditions in China and climate change. The Op-Ed is very serious, uses powerful language, and holds a constant, unyielding sway over the reader. From start to finish, this Op-Ed calculates its usage of words to emphasize its point and encourage a reaction from its readers. Furthermore, this particular piece seems to emulate the format of the Op-Ed to the letter, showing very little dissonance from the steps to creating an Op-Ed.

Sick Bird

Regarding these three Op-Eds, they all hold varying degrees of quality and adherence to what makes an article an Op-Ed. The first showed little promise and lacked the properties of a true Op-Ed. The second showed a much greater sense of self in regards to what makes an Op-Ed, yet still had some flaws that could have been addressed. The final Op-Ed is by far a much greater example of such than the former two, and acts a great example for editorial journalism.

In the Order in Which They Appear:


The Tribulations and Simplicities of Image Analysis in Research

The research paper we were tasked with writing had several hardships in terms of the approach toward how to use available materials pertaining to the subject. My most difficult problems were the act of using a resource to try to alter our own lens on the topic of how an image described a particular aspect of the civil war, as well as trying to find a resource at all that fit the task. Together, both made the work behind the essay very tedious and removed some of my own perspective in place of ideas I didn’t necessarily agree with. Personally, I feel that the usage of other’s ideas when trying to interpret an image is destructive to the creative process because it forces a student to rely on other’s words to relay an idea that they themselves may have had. Furthermore, despite the many resources allotted to students in this task, I felt that my paper could have done without other’s interpretations because I couldn’t find a particular resource that made my words more effective. Rather, I had to constantly remember that providing a secondary source was necessary and I had to write to allocate the usage of said sources. In my opinion, the hardest part of a “research paper” in genera is trying to shoehorn another person’s ideas in simply because they are qualified to speak at length about the topic being discussed.


My feelings as I dealt with various problems during research

There were some upshots to writing the paper in the form that was specified, however. The prompt allotted for a wide variety of different ways that the image in question could be analyzed and understood. The library training, despite my opinion of using sources, made the process of searching for a piece that was somewhat relatable became a less agonizing process. I primarily enjoy being able to analyze an image from an interpretive sense, which is precisely how I went about trying to come to a better understanding of my image. In essence, the research paper itself wasn’t a challenging task, and became more interesting as I picked apart “The Soldier’s Dream of Home” more and more. Once the task of dealing with the research portions was over and finished, the fact of the matter is that the paper itself was enjoyable to write and the topic of the image, mine being sentimental domesticity, was very interesting and made for a great topic to write about.


My feelings after piecing together a coherent essay that frustrated me so.

Relating Articles; Picturing a War

[Le Beau, Bryan. “”colored Engravings for the People”: The World According to Currier and Ives”.American Studies 35.1 (1994): 131–141. Web…]. The mind behind this particular piece is historian and former dean, Bryan Le Beau, a scholar in the top of their field regarding topics such as the Civil War. Currier & Ives, a famous publishing, began its work in New York before expanding into the business of lithographing images of the Civil War. Le Beau uses many of Currier & Ives images themselves to emboss his key points while elaborating on the history of this publishing company. The main purpose of this article seems to try to capture the history of Currier & Ives and their take on the world in their art. This view, then, would have the audience be those interested in how Currier & Ives developed and how they contributed to American Culture. While having many interesting notes contextually regarding the history of the artist behind the image of interest, there is very little on what I am specifically looking for to speak on length about.

C&I Print 2

Print featured in LeBeau’s piece regarding Currier & Ives

Faust, Drew G. 2001. The Civil War soldier and the art of dying. The Journal of Southern History 67(1): 3-38. The author of this particular article is none other than Drew Faust, president of Harvard University and an expert in the field of American History. The thesis in question revolves around how the Civil War created a death that deviated from “ordinary death”, a death with different meanings that invoked different emotions like no war before it. Faust employs countless statistics, indescribable images, and various quotations to back her point. As a scholarly article, the intended audience would most likely be those interested in the change of both representation and culture that was brought about during this great period of American destruction. I find this article highly useful in augmenting my outlook on historical and cultural contexts, though its focuses make it impractical for my purposes.


In essence, both sources are highly interesting and scholarly, but only offer small amounts of information that can be useful for the project. Faust has a plethora of different remarks on death and how it developed during the civil war. This information, however, is useless due to the nature of the image planned for the project: “The Soldier Dreams of Home”. Similarly, Le Beau offers many remarks on the development of images and Currier & Ives, but doesn’t offer me information that is pivotal to my work or the image in question. While both articles are scholarly and host ideas and people key to the themes of the civil war, they are useless to me beyond the small tidbits relevant to my ideas.