Catherine: visiting the Music Library and touring the Berkeley Art Museum

April 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

Last Monday I was unable to go to the BAM along with everyone in the workshop, so I took a separate tour led by a museum staff member. It was the first tour I’d taken at the museum, and I viewed it to be effective and informative in regards to my overall experience exploring the various resources featured throughout the current art displays. The tour lasted for a little over an hour, with the only downside being that I felt a bit rushed in terms of getting to fully examine and appreciate each piece.  While none of the artworks in the exhibition directly concerned my research topic, many of them contained themes that correlated with questions I’d been attempting to answer throughout time spent in this decal. One memorable piece in the collection on display was featured in the Silence exhibition (the tour’s primary focus). The image had been created by a student and plastered upon the largest interior wall within the museum. It depicted an adolescent girl staring into a desolate field with her face turned away from the viewer, and many in the tour voiced the comparison between this image and the emblematic Romanticist painting, “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog.”


Within a few days of visiting the Berkeley Art Museum, I began my own tour of the University’s Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library. This library has been one of my longtime favorite study spots, as it is fairly uncrowded during midterm and final seasons. I recounted its resources during my presentation this past Monday, yet neglected to mention the names of its head and assistant librarians (John Shepard and Manuel Erviti, respectively). In any event, my experience proved beneficial in terms of enlarging the scope of my research possibilities, and the information gathered from other presentations has motivated me to further explore the vast collections dispersed across campus.


Catherine: Visual Resources

April 7, 2013 § Leave a comment


I found this week’s assignment regarding visual resources to be particularly engaging and arguably the most effective in terms of adding fresh dimension to the perspectives of my topic. The resource I discovered may appear rather incongruous or empirical when compared to those featured in previous posts, but I still found the work to be exceptionally formatted to communicate historical imperatives to a contemporary audience. To provide a referential background, I regularly consult the BBC as a reliable world news source and thus chose to explore their visual archives and filter images until settling upon several that would most capture the extremist nature of my subject. While I’d originally anticipated that I would primarily be seeking photographs or cartographic sources, I first happened upon a somewhat unorthodox news feature (the article is linked here):


Out of curiousity, I pursued the report until I was able to find access this episode of “Deadliest Warrior” (though the resource comes across as inane, its demonstrative  conflict simulation serves as forceful evidence of the IRA’s largely unrecognized influence over Middle Eastern terrorist authority). The show’s premise surrounds hypothetical armed confrontation between prominent martial figures of past and modern historical eras, e.g., George Washington, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan. My episode of interest focused upon a scenario in which the Taliban had been matched against the Irish Republican Army. While the content is disturbing, its graphic conjectures have ultimately persuaded me to continue to incorporate creative visual media into all future research enterprises. 

Catherine Breen: Oral History

March 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

I chose to interview one of my floormates at the International House. After moving to America from Germany as a child, she attended a German private school in the South Bay until the 12th grade. She described her memories of September 11th as a sort of macabre initiation into identification as an American citizen and as a milestone in her transition into young adulthood. The Occupy Movement unfolded during her first semester at UC Berkeley, which marked a jolting sense of awareness regarding the imperatives that impacted the values of her own higher education at this institution. Our discussion then lapsed into a reflective description of her first love, a Dutch exchange student she intends to marry in the Netherlands after earning her degree from Berkeley. After meeting her fiance’s family for the first time during a visit to Amsterdam over this coming spring break, my German neighbor promises a second interview that I plan to reference in my succeeding entries.

Catherine Breen: Microfilms

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello research folks,

Apologies again the late entry–I’ve only just settled upon a concrete topic after drifting from idea to idea for the past couple of weeks. This’ll be a bit of a jumble that draws together experiences from Bancroft, Main Stacks, and the Microfilms library.

Since I absent from the group trip to the Bancroft, I wound up going with another group of people. Very little of the material that I handled there had anything to do with my subject, but I was fascinated by almost everything I came across. I mentioned on Monday that the Bancroft has texts that had been written in the Thirteenth Century (they actually passed around 700 year pages so our group could touch the vellum). Even though the library had little to offer regarding my personal project, I still felt that my time was well spent.

My research in the Main Stacks couldn’t have been more divergent. I often forgot which books I  was looking for when distracted by texts that had nothing whatsoever to do with my topic of interest. The point at which my focus shifted from psychology to international conflict study happened when I’d gotten lost among the European historical texts after hours of trying to find a textbook on neuroscience. Since I come from an Irish family, I decided that my research would be more productive if I invested an element of my personal heritage. 

This past Monday’s meeting in the Microfilm collection was also conducive in terms of applying University resources to an individual project. I’d never before known of the technology available for the microfilms and enjoyed learning how to operate the machines with the film I’d selected from the San Francisco Chronicle reserve. Although I haven’t yet returned to the basement of Doe, I found a useful selection of articles using the online facilities that we learned to navigate. This specific text is from an Irish newspaper that reports global affairs as related to Ireland’s own political agenda. My choice was based on the IRA’s recent collaboration with Libya and the international response to the late Gaddafi’s involvement in supplying arms to Irish terrorists. Here’s the link:


1. I am studying current and past relations between the Irish Republican Army and the Middle Eastern paramilitary organizations. 

2. Because I want to better understand the historical conflict surrounding Ireland’s emergence as an independent nation and development within the European political platform.

3. In order to help my readers better understand Ireland’s impact upon global frameworks that shape modern conflict among member states of the European Union. 

Catherine Breen: Belated Introduction

February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hi there research workshop,

My name’s Catherine Breen, and this spring marks my final semester as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. I’m an English major looking to work and (eventually) apply to grad schools abroad, so my research topic will most likely center around the European Union. Since I’m planning to study in England, interest in British political policy will be practical as I begin developing conceptual questions for this workshop’s focus. 

This semester I’m taking classes outside of the English department for general interest, which has made me realize how difficult it’s really going to be once I have to bid my final farewell to Berkeley this May. There is so much that this campus has to offer to a point at which the material is truly overwhelming. After researching Decals, I decided that this workshop would be the most effective in helping me take full advantage of campus resources for the remaining months at Berkeley.


After having lived (and studied) my entire life within the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m looking forward to breaking out of California after graduation to experience the world outside of the Unite States. If grad school pans out, I’ll be taking on research projects in Britain. Since I hope to study internationally, I currently live at International House. It’s a great place to be, but sometimes it’s difficult to break out of the bubble to explore the rest of campus. 

Looking forward to constructing a topic, and I anticipate a great semester working with everyone in the Decal!

~ Catherine