Over the past couple weeks, I have received large amounts of feedback from Dr. Shermer, Ruby, and Sam on my paper. While I do plan on adequately processing and implementing said feedback later in the week, I have yet to thoroughly analyze in-depth the comments, suggestions, and recommendations from all three reviewers (but prepare for intense emailing soon!) For now, I have been prioritizing completing two other papers due within the coming week before diverting my complete attention to the Ramonat paper’s completion, editing, and presentation.

First, however, from what I can recollect, my paper does seem to lack a clear organization. While the premise of my argument paves its way towards the beginning, this focus seemingly becomes lost as I progress into the multidimensional layers that is the Daley administration. Topped with organizational issues, I am also prone to be overly wordy and feel the need to explain everything, rather than trust in my reader’s competence. Secondly, I must also balance constructive criticism with positive feedback: I honestly believe that I am successfully implementing my plan to create a balance between a narrative structure and an academic argument. Also, according to Sam’s testimony of my paper, he understands what I wish to argue with relative ease. For now, it’s just a matter of supporting what I purport with quality evidence -a challenge I feel like if my argument IS to speculative.

My plan until April 4/22 is as follows:

  • Sunday, April 14th: 11-4pm work in the Lewis Library on my Ramonat (writing!)
  • Monday, April 15th: 6:00am-12pm, work on another paper due on 4/23; 4-7pm work in Cuday Library on Ramonat (writing!)
  • Tuesday, April 16th: 7pm-??? (writing and hopefully editing!) Ramonat
  • Wednesday, April 17th: 6am-12pm writing Ramonat; 8pm-??? editing Ramonat
  • Thursday, April 18th: 1-4pm writing and editing Ramonat

Easter Break: Writing and crafting my presentation!

If I follow strictly the plan I’ve outlined accordingly, I should have a solid draft and presentation of my Ramonat paper completed by the assigned due date. It will not exist in its final version, but I should be okay. As mentioned before, I am very tired but will persevere!





The First Draft

What can be said about my first draft? If I am being honest, then not much. I am very much under the impression that I am far behind — I feel very overwhelmed and sense that I am highly underprepared. My draft, currently, only achieves at best 12 pages of a projected 25-30 pages. With regard to my own writing style, a critique that I have of myself is my expertise in being very vague, which may just demonstrate that I still have a ton of more research to do (in order to establish the specifics!), and little to no time to do it. I know what I want to say, it becomes now a matter of me writing it and then of course supporting it with quality evidence. But if I am being honest, I am so tired.

Regardless, I hope to April to be a time of rejuvenation for me. I hope to finally collect myself, my research, my time, and my undivided attention, and to really craft something special and unique in my young, historical career. More specifically, I think I finally figured out a quality argument regarding Daley that is more plausible and not as speculative. Essentially, via contemporaries of Daley and scholars of the Chicago Political Machine, Daley has been critiqued of crafting, promoting, and administering racist housing policies all across the West and South side areas of Chicago. However, such critiques comes later in Daley’s tenure as mayor. With respect to my own research into the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago (erected in the early 1960s), my plan is to put forward the claim that this university’s construction acted as a precursor to Daley’s harsh and strict housing policies. However, instead of labeling the construction as racist, the construction can be considered symbolic of ethnic prejudice towards both the Italian-American and Greek-American residents of the Harrison-Halsted junction. Ultimately, the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago acts as a precursor to Daley’s racist housing policies, which denied individuals the right to property in specific neighborhoods based on skin color.

In the end, consolidating this argument is what I hope to achieve. Let’s just hope that I can do it!

The Writing Process (so far…)

Writing this research project has been like no other. To adequately summarize my first steps into this writing process, I would definitely characterize it as overwhelming yet challenging. While I did not complete nearly as much as I was anticipating over Spring Break (visiting family made that hectic!), I do think what I have thus far is well-researched and getting to the point of being well-written. When writing this 30+ page paper, it is important to remember that this is a process. I am not going to be an expert the first time around and perfecting the craft only takes practice. I am confident in my ability to succeed. If anything, time seems to be my biggest hurdle.

As for the actual content of the first “chunk,” I think I have been distracted with focusing one minor characteristic of paper instead of writing on the core and essence of my research. I wrote a solid seven pages on the University of Illinois Navy Pier campus instead of focusing on the ethnic roots of Little Italy, Garfield Park, and Bridgeport, Chicago. I need to prioritize and center in on those neighborhoods and focus on the tensions between the community groups and the Daley administration with regard to the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago. As an aspiring historian, it’s my inclination to want to write everything down because I believe everything is important, but when given limits, I need to sift through what’s necessary and what’s not. In this case, seven pages on the Navy Pier campus is not. Perhaps a page at most is best. That’s why we edit. 🙂 Additionally, incorporating digitalized history into my project might be useful as well -especially with respect to garnering sources that prove that Little Italy overwhelmingly voted for Daley during his mayoral election. Unfortunately, the talk last Wednesday skipped over Richard J. Daley’s tenure in office; however, I do plan on digging digitalized archives in order to find the empirical evidence I am looking for.

Moving forward, I definitely do plan on focusing in on the places and the people of the Harrison-Halsted neighborhood as well as their correspondence with the Daley administration. Additionally, I want to look into Daley’s youth to find evidence of a growing prejudicial sentiment against Italian-Americans. I believe isolating that fact will prove most useful. If anything, I need to work on factoring in the Catholic Church’s role in this decision. From the beginning, this has been the hardest bridge to build, but I believe analyzing the role of the Church in these neighborhood burrows could provide insight into how cognitive biases have developed historically.


Inverse Outlining and Samples

This week’s blog post was quite the task, and I hope that I successfully complied everything I needed for this entry.

To begin, we need to provide a page of notes from a source we have been reading throughout the week. For this assignment, I chose to provide a brief sample of my own personal notes and thoughts on Robert Orsi’s The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950. I am using this source in an effort to cultivate a definition of religion, which I will then use when viewing both Italian and Irish American notions and practice of Catholicism.

Next, I was also tasked with providing a small report of an interview I had with a specialist in a potential scholarly field relevant to my research project. After conducting three interviews so far, I decided to type up my written notes from my interview with Dr. Carla Simonini from the Italian studies program at Loyola.

My notes on Orsi’s work and my interview with Dr. Simonini can be found here: Recorded Notes

Next, I was tasked with reading and outlining the article “‘How About Some Meat?’: The Office of Price Administration, Consumption Politics, and State Building from the Bottom Up, 1941-1946.” In an effort to adequately understand how historians craft academic arguments, my own personal thoughts on the matter can be best described as a bit overwhelming but also ready for an academic challenge. Before becoming a Ramonat scholar, the longest paper I’ve written was a 15-page research paper for my Theology class, which I wrote on female autonomy within the Biblical books of Ruth, Esther, and Judith. I did an extensive biblical analysis of this theme, how these books overlap, how they differ, and finally what implications of female autonomy can arise from this synthesis. This proved a fun task; however, this previous assignment was much easier to develop since it was only half the required page amount of Ramonat’s research project. Currently, I am drowning in sources. I have somewhat of a direction of what I seek to prove in my current research project; however, I still need to consolidate my themes before I get to overwhelmed and misguided about where to proceed. This article showed me that it is okay to have a lot of sources backing up a position, and that these longer scholarly articles should have many themes they hit upon. For now and for me, it becomes a matter of determining what these themes are, and how I should support them. The outline of the scholarly article assigned from class can be found here: Inverse Outline

Finally, at the end, I was asked to supply a small primary source. This can be found here: Growing Up on the Near West Side in the 1920s



Honing in My Research Questions

Essentially, my focus on this research project is to provide a narrative to the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and identifying evidence of ethnic bias against Italian-Americans during its development. Essentially, this topic will explore the political atmosphere of the Daley Administration, protest movements against the construction of the UIC campus, how the construction affected the Hull House and Little Italy, differing notions of Catholicism between Irish and Italian Americans, and how these notions factor into UIC’s development and construction in the 1950s.

Five research questions I hope to center my paper around include:

  1. Addressing the basics/ setting the stage: Who is involved? When did this occur? How long did it take the Daley administration to get approval? What’s the already established tension between Irish and Italian Americans?
  2. Drawing a comparison and contrast between Italian and Irish notions of Catholicism: How do these two ethnic groups practice Catholicism differently? Where can this be distinctly shown throughout Chicagoland neighborhoods (what specific Churches?) Is there hard evidence pointing to a tension between these groups over these different stances? Additionally, is Irish and Italian tension singularly a product of Catholicism, or also a product of eugenic rhetoric?
  3. Establishing a conflict: What two (or more groups) stand in opposition against one another, and how does this manifest itself in the public media? Why is the construction of UIC in Little Italy detrimental to Italian American community? How is religion a factor? What was the Daley administration attempting to accomplish by building UIC in Little Italy?
  4. Determining the resolution: Who ultimately succeeded, and who suffered loses because of the decision to build UIC? How have their respective communities adapted to the construction of UIC? What are today’s consequences?
  5. The “why does this matter” component: What are the moral and ethical implications of such a decision, and was the choice to build UIC an ethical decision? How might similar occurrences today be dealt with given this now established narrative? Is ethnic bias still an issue in today’s society, and what can be learned from the construction of UIC to help prevent such biases?

Finally, in terms of sourcing, I have so far scheduled two interviews for this week with Loyola Professors (Dr. Carla Simonini and Dr. John Donoghue) surrounding the competing notions of Catholicism between Irish and Italian Americans. I also plan on researching different news articles which cover the construction of UIC through a political framework. Moreover, visiting historically Irish and Italian Catholic parishes around Chicago will help me gain an understanding of how these differing notions manifest themselves in a physical space. I also plan on sifting through historical scholarship covering the Daley administration and its initiatives, as well as how these scholars ultimately responded and critiqued them.

My Research Topic

After thoroughly considering all of my potential options for an extensive research assignment and also after consulting with Dr. Shermer, I believe it will be in my best interest to pursue an inquiry regarding the historical tension between Irish Americans and Italian Americans and their accompanying cultural understandings of Catholicism. The inspiration behind this topic originated last semester, during my Italian Women in Literature course, where the professor, Dr. Simonini, caught my attention by mentioning how the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) intruded upon Little Italy. Simple questions flooded my mind, such as why would this occur? Were the Italian residents of the area O.K. with this? Who enact the construction? Who potentially protested against it? Can this be deduced down to an ethnic bias, and how may this tie into notions of competing understandings of Catholicism? All of these questions (and more!) will be useful talking points for this essay.

Essentially, I wish for my research paper to incorporate three central themes:

  • The difference in the cultural traditions and practice of Catholicism between Irish and Italian Americans
  • Establishing the political climate surrounding the construction of UIC and the actual construction itself; how was Little Italy determined to be the location of this new and vast university?
  • Identifying evidence of ethnic prejudice from the City of Chicago towards Italian Americans

In order to address such themes, I hope to conduct an extensive interview with Dr. Simonini in the Italian Studies department, visiting the UIC archives in search of documents related to the university’s construction, and gathering information from narrative (such as novels or biographies) sources which detail the experience of Irish and Italian immigrants coming and settling in the Chicagoland area. My main goal for this large research assignment is to not only craft a valid and sophisticated academic argument, but to also write a story that grabs the attention of the reader and maintains their interest in my written word.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

In terms of searching for a primary source document that maintains relevance to this week’s readings, a peculiar document grabbed my attention. While this list has no known author and does not have an original publishing date, this article is titled “What Can I Do As Peacemaker?” Additionally, when considering that Arnold R. Hirsch’s essay, “Massive Resistance in the Urban North: Trumball Park, Chicago 1953-1966” detailed the intense amount of white backlash against African-American families moving into an all-white apartment complex, the primary source document provides its readers with a comprehensive list of actions conscientious citizens may follow when dealing with hostility. Stemming from the 8th Day Center for Peace, the leaders of this organization called upon its members to actively, nonviolently protest, in a civilized manner, the horrendous actions of the United States government when it decided to drop atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. If anything, this complied catalog of steps instructed its adherents to engage in their civic duties to protest wrongdoing on behalf of the greater common good. Such items include: contacting a local political authority, donating either time or money to non-profit organizations that seek to aid in recovery efforts, or engage in daily prayer for all those effected. In terms of posing questions, what type of effect could a list similar to this have on the housing crisis of Chicago? How could this list contribute to the building conscientiousness of civilians, in terms of accepting others who are different from an individual? An excerpt of this document will be provided below!