When people think of research, usually topics in the field of natural sciences come up. However, research occurs in multiple fields, albeit using different methods that best suit each topic. When interviewing Professor Linda Middleton, I not only learned about her personal academic journey, but also about the research topics and process she took when producing her research in her discipline of English.
The interview began with Professor Middleton telling me how she first became involved in the field of English. She said that in the beginning of college, she started out in the Pre-Medicine track. However,after realizing that the courses she took weren’t for her, she switched to a different area and ended up double-majoring in Psychology and English. She eventually became a professor, and received her Master’s from University of California Berkeley, and her PhD. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was actually the first female graduate of the English doctorate program here at Manoa.
When asked how she became interested in the topic of feminism, Professor Middleton replied that she grew up in the second-wave feminist era, and that as a young adult, it was something that she found her identity with. She also stated that growing up alongside her sister, her father was very encouraging to them– she had no concept of not being able to do something simply because she was a woman. This mentality lead Professor Middleton into the topic of feminism and women authors in literature, which are significant themes in research. Some examples of research Professor Middleton did include papers on Jane Austen and Angela Carter. In the case of Angela Carter, when Professor Middleton first read her books, she noticed Carter’s style of writing and had a theory that at some point, Angela Carter was anorexic. Some time later, Professor Middleton’s friend told her that Angela Carter died and left evidence that she was, in fact, anorexic. From this fact, Professor Middleton carried out her research about this correlation by reading articles on various topics relating to women with this disorder while also reading and analyzing Carter’s texts.
I also specifically asked Professor Middleton about one of her specific papers that was about women’s anxiety of authorship. She said that her inspiration for the paper came from a book called The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Research in the English field tends to come from reading works and then researching topics or themes related to the specific research topic. This includes reading literary criticisms like The Madwoman in the Attic. Rather than perform actual experiments, research in the English field tends to involve more literary means of gaining knowledge about a subject.
My interview with Professor Middleton gave me insight on another aspect of using an English degree as a career. I now know that English is more than reading and writing; it involves taking various literature, criticisms, and articles and piecing them together in order to make a accurate and sound thesis.