“One door opens and eight articles come out!”
Shannon Tully ’16 talks with librarian Liz Chase about their research meetings for her American Studies capstone project.
What course did you visit the library for help with?
AMS420, my seminar in American Studies; I was working on my American Studies Capstone paper.
What does your Capstone paper focus on?
My title is “Contained Representations of Austism and Audience (Dis)comfort. I’m looking at representations of autism and audience discomfort in scripted media, including Temple Grandin, Parenthood, and Rainman.
Tell me a little bit about deciding on your topic.
When I first started out I would say [my topic] was very broad, looking at autism representations in a lot of shows, but not anything specific. Autism is near and dear to my heart, I work with kids with autism. I’m an Elementary Ed major and planning to get a masters in severe special education. I’d never looked at autism through a media lens, but I had noticed that there isn’t a lot of representation of this minority within society. These are the kids I want to represent. So I was interested in our experience of discomfort towards the autistic community and it’s representation on TV that isn’t seen a lot.
I looked at the text Representing Autism, which I got through ILL, and that really helped shape my research. I picked my favorite show, Parenthood, but then watched a bunch of movies and other shows and read reviews, and narrowed it down to my favorite three.
What were some of the challenges you had with this topic?
There’s been a limited amount of prior research in this area, so being able to find the deeper connections, and figuring out the connection to disability studies as a whole, was hard. I was also trying not to be biased because I loved Parenthood, but [in doing my research I] realized Parenthood isn’t a great representation of Autism.
What brought you to the library?
Well, first we had an instruction session for the course that Professor Opitz set up, but I’d also worked with you in previous classes. I like order, and I didn’t know where to start; I was having a hard time finding articles because there isn’t a lot published. I was taking my topic very literally in terms of autism and television. You helped me open up my ideas about the topic to look more broadly at disability studies and move beyond my black and white way of thinking. It helped me make connections between the articles that I didn’t feel like I’d have made by myself.
What would you tell other students about working with the library?
Take advantage of the resource. It’s right at your fingertips, you just have to ask. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. One door opens and eight articles come out. Half of my articles I found working with you. You also showed me how to go through the bibliographies of my articles to look at the research they’d used and make connections. Clearly it’s working because this is my third semester meeting with the library and I’ve gotten A’s! I met with you like every week!
I’d pop into your office on the spot too and ask questions.
Do you study here as well?
I do all my homework here. I feel very productive. I don’t know what it is but I like writing all my papers on the computers here because the screens are bigger and you can do a few things at once. I also like leaving the library and leaving my work. It gives me a routine. It’s nice because I like having my room as my “not work” space, so I do all my work here. I can’t get anything done when I know the TV can be turned on. I go to the second or third floor. I also meet with the writing tutors. So I take what I do with the librarians on the first floor and go upstairs and write and then meet with the tutors.
We’re here to help! Reference librarians are available for this type of one-on-one research consultation throughout the semester, and during the summer! If you’re on campus this summer for classes or a SURE project, we’re here to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-565-1203, or visit the reference desk.