The Revising Process

As the deadline for our final paper creeps closer and closer, I have been working hard to revise my paper and get it to where it needs to be. I’m still falling quite short of the 25-30 page deadline, but I have the sense that I know what else I need to add, and that I will be able to pull everything together in time.

The feedback that I have been getting from Ruby. Dr. Shermer, my fellow classmates, and various friends who have looked over my paper has been very helpful in the past few weeks. My peer review partner and I are meeting one last time later today to go over each other’s papers before the long weekend for grammar, style, etc.

I would say the most satisfying part of this process was completely redoing my outline a few weeks ago and bringing it to both Ruby and Dr. Shermer and getting their approval on it. It turned out that this had been the direction Dr. Shermer was trying to steer me in after receiving draft 2 of my paper, I just hadn’t gotten there yet.

One of the more frustrating parts of the process is frantically trying to finish the paper in order to make the deadline for judging on Monday, on top of all of the other final exams and assignments that are occurring in these last few weeks of school. With this upcoming Easter break, however, I hope to be able to wrap everything up nicely. The presentation is definitely a big source of anxiety at the moment, however, and although I previously brushed it off as something easy, I am definitely feeling the pressure!

I think I need the most work actually finishing the paper and getting it to where it needs to be– I feel like I could get through the last ten or so pages I need, but the approaching deadline is definitely making me anxious.

That being said, I’m definitely excited for presentations next week, and I can’t wait to see everybody’s hard work.


Peer Review

The deadline for our Ramonat research is approaching quickly, and I can finally say that I feel confident with the direction my paper is going and the progress I have made thus far, all thanks to the peer review exercise and my wonderful peer review partner, Kathleen.

To be completely honest and transparent, I was a little nervous entering into the peer review exercise because I did not know Kathleen very well, and I really did not feel confident in my paper and the progress I had made (which was not very much). I did not know what a massive help it would be to have another set of eyes look over my research.

Kathleen and I met last Saturday afternoon to go over each other’s papers, and we both figured out that we needed to revisit our outlines and try to re-order our papers. Kathleen helped me come up with a cohesive outline that includes all of the background information that one would need in order to understand the impact Patty Crowley had on the birth control commission. Together, we came up with an outline that discussed Casti Connubii, the rhythm method, the various happenings of the 1960s that led to birth control, the development of The Pill, the Papal Commission, Humanae Vitae, Patty’s reaction to Humanae Vitae, and a conclusion that clarifies how we got to where Catholics now stand on oral contraceptives. Kathleen also helped me clean up my introduction and all of the weird grammatical issues that were sprinkled throughout my paper.

As for Kathleen’s paper, I found the topic so incredibly interesting!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading her research, and I cannot wait to read the finished product and learn even more about two influential women, Henriette Delille and Marie Laveau. It was such a treat to read about the history of New Orleans and creole culture, and I had no idea that voodoo and Catholicism are so closely intertwined in New Orleans.

After marking up Kathleen’s paper and helping her see the pieces that I found were missing, we decided to meet again 24 hours later, after we had both worked on our papers a bit and reformatted our outlines. This session was spent further elaborating on the pieces we saw missing in each other’s research and trying to complete the puzzles that we both had, as well as trying to summarize our arguments in a cohesive way. Kathleen gave me a great second copy of her paper, and I marked that one up as well.

After the whole ordeal, (nearly 8 hours total of peer reviewing!!) we decided to call it a night and go to Taco Bell at midnight. We were so busy that we forgot to take selfies with each other, but I hope this video and the two separate papers that we each reviewed will suffice as evidence of our work.

Overall, this was an extremely helpful experience and I cannot say enough about it. Kathleen was able to help me realize how I should structure my research, and I feel like we really fine-tuned both of our arguments together. I can’t wait to take the skills that I learned from this peer review exercise into graduate school!




Creating a First Draft

To be completely honest, creating something that resembles a first draft of my paper has been an incredibly painstaking process as of late, but I am hoping that these next few days will be more productive for me.

It has been difficult to get through this, mostly because I keep getting caught up on what I have already written and getting stuck in minute details while not remembering that I am supposed to be trying to explain my topic thoroughly from beginning to end. I hope that with continued guidance, I will be able to stop being such a perfectionist and focus on working hard.

My supervisor at work actually gave me a helpful tip that came from when he was in graduate school and trying to get through his thesis– He explained that he used to walk around with a voice recorder and pretend he was talking to his parents and trying to explain his research to them. He thought of this because if you had to do this, you would most likely have to explain every single detail and be incredibly thorough, instead of jumping from one topic to the next, because your parents haven’t been reading up on this topic like you have. I’m excited to try this later tonight and see if it is helpful for me.

The most satisfying part of this experience thus far has been looking back on what I have typed so far and actually being proud of it, and feeling like it sounds good. I have been working very hard on making my writing flow well and sound good, which I think has taken away from the quantity of pages that I have been able to get out. Which really is not ideal, and I think that’s the main thing that could use work for me. I am hoping to be finished by the end of this week so that I can give my peer review partner, Katherine, a paper that I am proud to have her read.

The deadline for this paper is quickly approaching, and it seems like lately, time is moving both too fast and too slow at the same time. As we get closer to the date of the Symposium, though, I am getting more excited to be able to share my research with my loved ones and show them why I’ve essentially been a recluse this whole semester. I truly can’t wait for that day so we can all celebrate our accomplishments as a class and look back at the insanely long paper we have managed to write.

Starting My Research

The process of starting my research paper has undoubtedly been different than any research paper I have done before. To be completely honest, this is the most involved research paper that I have written in my time as an undergraduate, which makes total sense given the intensity of the Ramonat research seminar. As difficult as this research has been, one of the most helpful aspects of it is constantly having check-in deadlines for our first outline, first paragraph, first “chunk,” etc. As busy as this process has kept me, I think that it will surely pay off in the end, because I know myself, and as someone who does a LOT of last-minute work, I know I will write a much better and more detailed research paper if I make an effort to spend time on my research and complete these assignments in a timely fashion.

The frustrating aspect of starting to write my paper is definitely balancing this research with all of my other classes, extracurriculars, and independent projects. I have taken on a lot of work this semester, and it’s sometimes difficult for me to just step away from my books and take a minute to just breathe and do something I genuinely enjoy. I feel like many students don’t acknowledge this feeling enough. The feeling of always needing to be working on something, because if you aren’t being productive, you feel guilty. I have found myself feeling overwhelmed by this research in the past few weeks, but the reality is that we are all working at our own pace, and we are going about this paper differently than past seminars. The tricky part is reminding myself that I am actually getting a lot done, and that although my research may feel a bit nonsensical in certain spots, the more I take time to develop my paper, the better it will be.

I can see my ideas evolving far beyond what I originally thought my paper was going to be about. I feel as though I finally have an argument that makes sense and that will guide the rest of my paper. I have evolved my paper into one about the life and work of Patty Crowley and its impact on the Church as well as the reproductive justice movements that followed, and I am excited to write about a topic that has such close ties to my own personal life and personal interests. As someone who participates in the reproductive justice movement at a Jesuit, Catholic University, Patty Crowley’s work inspires me, and sheds light upon the fact that reproductive justice is not inherently secular, and that Catholics do indeed have a place in the movement.

I am not entirely sure how I could use digital sources and projects throughout my research project, considering most of my resources come from books, print materials, and Crowley’s archives. If I do incorporate any sort of picture or graph source, it could be during my oral presentation in powerpoint form. Perhaps if I find something particularly interesting in Crowley’s archives, I could incorporate a photo in my research presentation or even within my paper.

I look forward to continuing with my research, and I hope that I write a paper that Patty Crowley herself would be proud to read. Wish me luck!

Diving Into Research

This week was heavily focused on diving headfirst into the articles and other sources that I have collected as well as slowly learning just how to write a 30-page research paper. Looking back on the articles we read last semester, I can see many wonderful examples of how to write a scholarly research paper, which makes starting mine just a little bit less overwhelming.

The first article that I chose to delve into is the one that arguably seemed the most simple, but that ended up surprising me in the end. I read The Vatican’s Ban on Contraception by J. O’Brien, published in Conscience magazine. Upon initially coming across this source, I thought this would be a light introduction into the inner workings of Pope Paul VI’s decision to publish Humanae Vitae as well as a summary of the public’s response to the encyclical. I was surprised by the emotional reaction I had to this article, which does make me a bit concerned about my research. Reading about how much work the Papal Commission on Birth Control put into their research only to have their recommendation fully ignored because of the Pope’s desire to protect the authority of the Church rather than focusing on modernization struck a nerve, and I felt as though I could really put myself in the Commission’s shoes. This article is incredibly interesting to me because of how greatly it  emphasizes Pope Paul VI’s desire to maintain papal infalibility, and how it subsequently reveals that a vast majority of Catholic women both in the late 1960s-early1970s and Catholic women in the modern United States completely disregard Humanae Vitae and favor modern contraceptive methods. This article also reveals that the implications of Humanae  Vitae have not only been felt in the US but also worldwide, due to efforts of Catholic hierarchy to discredit condom use in regions affected by HIV. I think that with my research on Patty Crowley, it would be an  important concluding point to highlight the worldwide effects of Humanae Vitae.

When collecting primary sources, this 2005 article in the New York Times stood out to me for its high praise of Patty Crowley and its recognition of Crowley’s inherent privilege with its contrast between her and Dorothy Day. Crowley was a representative of a wealthy socioeconomic slice of American Catholics who enjoyed material security, which I think is important to acknowledge. I also found this article interesting because it emphasizes how outwardly Catholic Patty and her husband Pat appeared to Pope Pius XII and Pope Paul VI. No matter how obviously Catholic their marriage seemed, Patty still found the courage to distance herself from Papal teachings on artificial contraception and became an example to other Catholic women of a liberated woman who explicitly promoted birth control.

This week, we also read a Scholarly article on the OPA and its relationship with American consumers and manufacturers during and after WWII. This scholarly article was much longer than papers I have previously written for classes. The basic structure of the paper included a clear introduction, a clear conclusion, and a main body of analysis in the middle that supported the thesis of the article. Although the sections were not explicitly labeled, this it what I could glean from my reading. This article as well as our writing guide have shown me that in my paper for this semester, I will need a clear and concise thesis, which is backed up by three types of analysis– evidentiary, connecting, and thesis analysis. The introductory paragraph will include my thesis, and my analysis will flow from the introduction in order to guide my paper chronologically to its conclusion. The analysis must be supported by evidence from my readings and archival research in order to build a strong argument. This article has provided me with a useful guide for writing an interesting scholarly article, and I hope that I can do my research topic justice.

Preliminary Research Questions

My chosen research topic in a broad sense is Patty Crowley and her life after the Papal Birth Control Commission. However, doing such research necessitates the use of some preliminary research questions in order get started in a way that’s not scary and overwhelming.

Patty Crowley played an important role in the Papal Birth Control Commission that advised Pope John Paul II on the ways that Catholics used birth control and other forms of contraception. Although the commission’s recommendation was ultimately ignored by the Pope, they played an important role in advising Catholics on the use of contraception, and thus became important figures within the Catholic women’s  reproductive justice movement and normalizing the use of birth control within the Catholic church. Although the Papal Birth Control Commission was a central part of Patty’s activism, I would more specifically like to know how her life and mission changed after Pope John Paul II ultimately decided not to take their recommendation.

The five research questions I would like to answer are:

  • How did Patty Crowley ultimately contribute to the Catholic movement for reproductive justice?
  • Why is her contribution important? How did it change the movement, and how did participation within this commission change the trajectory of her life and her activism?
  • What other areas of interest did Patty have, and how did she integrate her passion for reproductive healthcare within them? (Crowley helped with various improvements in the CHA and extended her work to Catholic social justice missions in other areas of the world, and I would like to know more about this)
  • If Crowley had not provided Catholics with an example of a radical and religious woman who used contraceptives, how would the Catholic movement surrounding contraception be different than it is today?
  • How, if at all, did Crowley pave the way for other Catholic reproductive justice groups?

Ruby recommended a book to me on the history of contraception called Devices and Desires, and I plan to use parts of this book in order to provide background information about the larger history of contraceptives, including oral and external devices. I also plan on utilizing Patty Crowley’s archive in the Women and Leadership archives in order to get a sense of her life on a deeply personal level. Crowley has items in her archive that span from organizational paperwork to postcards and souvenirs from trips to China, Tanzania, etc. where she went to study the different lifestyles of these areas, and I would love to use these papers to gain insight into her larger goals. I also plan on utilizing newspaper clippings and other articles from the time period just before the writing of Humana Vitae to immediately after, as well as documents that detail the Catholic response, both positive and negative, to the encyclical.

As a strong advocate and activist for comprehensive reproductive healthcare, I am excited to learn more about such an influential person in Chicago’s history, and I look forward to strengthening my knowledge of reproductive justice within the Catholic context.

Explaining My Research

With the start of a new semester comes the actual start of the research project that I have chosen to occupy my life with for the next four months. It is with much excitement that I can finally say that I would like to do my Ramonat research on Patty Crowley and her life after her participation in the Papal Birth Control Commission and the subsequent decision by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Humana Vitae.

I first became interested in this topic when we spent time in the Women and Leadership Archives looking through archival boxes, and my group was assigned Patty Crowley’s box. Looking through her belongings and various souvenirs, I could tell that we both shared some common interests, such as public housing reform and an interest in reproductive justice. Patty Crowley was an influential Catholic woman who firmly advocated for the use of birth control and helped normalize it within the Catholic community, and I admire her work and desire to know more about if and how Humana Vitae changed the trajectory of her career and how it affected her on a personal level.

I’m incredibly excited to get a chance to utilize the Women and Leadership archives at Loyola, which will be a fantastic asset to my research, as Patty Crowley’s papers are stored there in her own archive. I am also excited to become familiar with doing archival work, and I believe that due to my interests in reproductive justice within a Catholic context, that this research project will be tremendously enjoyable for me. Here’s to the start of a new semester!