Writing and analysis have never been my strong suit, and I have always struggled with these two important skills. However, to my surprise, this research project, while difficult, has not been as daunting of a task as I first thought it would be. In fact, I think I enjoyed this research project more than any of the other essay assignments throughout this school year.
One of the main things I have learned through this project is that researching something you are interested in makes all the difference. I found it easier to go about research and analysis because I genuinely wanted to learn more about my topic, Japanese American draft resistance and agency during World War II. Also, my central claim, that Japanese American draft resisters created their own agency, is somewhat unique, and barely any scholars argue that Japanese Americans had agency during the period of their internment. I think the originality of my argument made it more interesting to learn about because it became a guessing game as to whether a new secondary source would make claims that were similar to my own. After reading over many articles and chapters of books, I only found one source, a book, Democratizing the Enemy by Brian Hayashi, that made similar claims to the ones I was making in my paper. Most of the secondary sources I found supported the idea that Japanese Americans were placed in an unfair position where they had little opportunity for choice.
My biggest worry for the project was self-contradiction. I designed my argument in three parts. I first argued Japanese Americans had limited freedom and were presented with choices that were not choices at all. They were forced to choose between “the better of two evils.” I then argued Japanese Americans draft resisters created their own agency through political activism. I worried that by arguing Japanese Americans created their own agency, I would invalidate my claim that Japanese Americans had little freedom and limited agency. However, I soon realized it was their feeling limited agency that encouraged the draft resisters to act. My argument has not changed from the previously explained layout, and I am now satisfied with the way my paper has turned out.
The research project I began five weeks ago marks the end of my time as a Humanities Core student. I began this school year struggling to write and formulate my ideas in a coherent and clear fashion. I still struggle with essays, however this course has definitely helped to improve my writing and analysis skills.
But Humanities Core has taught me so much more than just writing skills. I began the quarter skeptical about the topic of “war.” I did not understand how we would be able to focus on war for an entire school year without the course becoming repetitive. However, this class has been anything but repetitive, every topic we discussed uncovered more ideas through deeper analysis. Through this course, I have learned the true scope of war and the countless ways people have tried to make sense of war such as through poetry, literature, and artwork. This course has also exposed me to topics that were extremely uncomfortable such as torture, rape in the military, and unnecessary violence during military campaigns. Topics such as these, while painful to learn about, have ultimately expanded my knowledge, and will allow me to take a more well informed stance with regards to these issues.
While I will not be continuing this blog in the future, I am thankful for the experiences I have gained writing in this different and less formal style. Blogging has allowed me to take a more personal stance with respect to the issues we discussed in lecture and seminar, and has become a rather enjoyable assignment. I thought I would regret taking Humanities Core when I began the class. However, as I reflect back on what I have learned, I realize I have gained invaluable skills and knowledge that I am sure is relevant to my future.
“Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment.” 2004. Illustration. Princeton University Press. Web. 1 June 2016.
Hayashi, Brian Masaru. Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004. Print.
Roberts, Matt. “War.” n.d. Graphic design. UCI Libraries. Web. 1 June 2016.