PhD student, Sociology, Yale University
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Updates & Reflections

My Thesis, and Reflections Since Graduation

Today, I want to share a bit about my time spent studying for my second degree (a second BA in sociology), as well as my capstone project  - my honors thesis. It was two and a half years in the making, and will serve as the foundation for my career in a lot of ways. Changing as I changed, it became this fluid, dynamic piece of research and writing that feels alive - like a snapshot of where I am in this moment, and not just professionally, but personally, as well.

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Anne Taylor
My Research Trip to Boston

Last week, I flew out to Boston to complete archival research for my honors thesis at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. It was incredible! If I wasn't a history nerd before (I was), it is surely obvious now, especially since I just threw out the words "archival" and "historical society" at you. Often when I tell people what I am researching, I am met with blank stares - it is an obscure topic in a faraway time in colonial American history. However, when I was at the historical society, I got to hold in my hands letters and journals that dated back to the 1600s. Many of them were penned by the very men I am studying. It was absolutely incredible to be so close to the humanity of history. It is surely not obscure anymore - at least in my mind.

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Anne Taylor
"Your Elusive, Creative Genius" by Elizabeth Gilbert

When reading today for my Self and Modern Society class, taught by sociologist Leslie Irvine, I was struck by this passage about the Romantics by Roy F. Baumeister from his book Identity, Cultural Change and the Struggle for Self (1986):

The Romantic ideas about personal destiny apply to the potentiality aspect of identity, whereas the early modern period had dealt with the interpersonal aspect. But the approaches are similar. The early modern period developed the belief in the hidden self, which meant that the intentions and motives of a person had to be discovered. The Romantics made personal potentiality something that also had to be discovered, but discovered in a different way. Poetry, for example, had previously been regarded as arising from divine inspiration, but the Romantics began to think of poetry as deriving from the buried treasures within the self of the poet (62-63, emphasis original).

Immediately upon reading this, I remembered a Ted talk I love by author Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love).

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Anne Taylor
Bodies on the Border: My Response

What are your thoughts on immigration reform? Have you given this issue much of your time lately?

Shared above is a heartbreaking photojournalism piece from The New York Times. I was given the link to this documentary as a part of an assignment for a sociology class I'm taking this semester on food and society, and in the nine or so minutes that it took me to watch this film, I've been more moved to think and act critically on this issue than I have in the last nine years since I turned 18-years-old, and became a registered voter in the state of Colorado. All the talk in this year's midterm election cycle, all the ad campaigns, all the debates - they don't hold a candle, in my opinion, to the effectiveness of this documentary in communicating the pressing nature of immigration reform.

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Anne Taylor
How do we tell the American story?

This semester, I've had the pleasure of taking a course on the American Revolution and the Early Republic with Dr. Fred Anderson here at CU-Boulder. Even though I've spent a great portion of my life idolizing the Founding Fathers, and studying colonial American history while an undergrad in Boston, I've never actually taken a course on the subject of the Revolution and the creation of the Constitution. How that one slipped through the cracks, I'm not sure. Nevertheless, it's thrilling to be able to spend such focused time learning about this pivotal moment in our nation's history, and especially to be studying under such an brilliant historian of early American history as Fred Anderson.

I've had a few surprises along the way, as Dr. Anderson has made arguments about the narrative of the Revolution that I hadn't really thought of before. How timely, too, that I am jumping into this material when the nation is up in arms about the new AP U.S History curriculum.

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Anne Taylor
Halfway through the semester...

Walking back to the library from class today, I realized that I am about halfway through the fall semester. I started thinking about what I've learned so far, what progress I've made, and what I have to show for all the time I've spent crammed into the stacks of Norlin Library, wanting quiet (and craving an office of my own).

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Anne Taylor
Part 3: Research Assistantship with Dr. Reed

The last few weeks of my research were spent wrestling with the idea of merchants in seventeenth century New England. I read Bernard Bailyn’s The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century, as well as excerpts from the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collections of letters from the Mathers to leaders in the Bay Colony during this time. Most of my research up to this point had been spent studying the religious beliefs of New England settlers, and their relationships with the Native Americans, as well as their beliefs about government and their thoughts on England.

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Anne Taylor
Part 2: Research Assistantship with Dr. Reed

When I last wrote, I had just begun my research into the history of the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay, and was looking to get a better overview of  their religious beliefs, especially their foundations in England. I began reading The Long Argument by Stephen Foster, and quickly realized that I needed more basic information before comprehension of Foster's book would be beneficial.

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Anne Taylor
Part 1: Research Assistantship with Dr. Reed

I’ve loved history for a long time. It’s been a steadfast companion through a lot of life’s wins and challenges. Through a combination of traveling, engaging teachers, and pure interest, I found as a young person a true zeal for American history, specifically the early years of colonization and the Revolution. Growing up in Colorado, however, didn’t provide many hands-on opportunities for the study of colonial American history, so off I went to Boston for college. My first BA in history, and the time I spent examining Salem Village, John Adams, and more left an indelible mark on my academic life.

But I always felt like there was something missing.

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Anne Taylor
The Map Is Not the Territory

Last night, I found out that my college sociology professor and beloved mentor, Dr. H, passed away a few days ago. It is such a tragic loss.

In the last 12 hours, I’ve talked with many people I went to college with. Some people I talk to everyday, others I haven’t spoken with in years. But we’ve all been brought together in this hard time – which I think is such a testament to his life. He brought people together. He taught us to love people – the marginalized, the scrutinized, the invisible.

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Anne Taylor