Jack's Research Journal
Overall, I'm very pleased with the way things are going for our group right now. The topic of Baroque Italian Opera is interesting to me. I don't know a lot about it off the bat, but I think that's a good thing. Focusing on the period of 1713 to 1723 in Italy is great. I'm into Italian history and that Baroque/beginning of the classical period is very interesting in socio-cultural terms with the transition of power from Habsburg Spain to Habsburg Austria occurring in 1713 in regards to control of parts of Italy. I'm really looking forward to listening to much more of the work of Vivaldi and researching his creative inspirations, collaborators, etc.
My group is great. Everyone's working together well and staying on top of it. It's amazing how even narrowing down a topic that's already very specific into something more specific still leaves plenty of room for research of many other topics surrounding the main topic. Like the necessity to research Hapsburg rule, Vivaldi's collaborators, and events pre 1713.
Now that we have laid out our "Divide and Conquer," researching is a lot more focused and productive. Early on, as we were narrowing our focus, but still trying to include as many things as possible/necessary to cover the topic completely, everybody was looking for little bits of everything from Vivaldi's life to daily life in early 18th century Venice to some of his specific operatic compositions. Now that I know my area of focus is Vivaldi's life, the more factual and biographical information, it has been much easier to focus on finding books and articles on him specifically. His life and his music are always linked which is necessary and important, but that has been one of the challenges in doing my research. I know that two of my other group members are focusing on specific operas of his as well as Baroque style in opera and music in general, so it has been difficult at times to draw the line on how much to invest in the history and facts about a particular piece he wrote versus not touching them at all and only sticking to dates and people in his life. When putting in information into our PowerPoint, I have also been thinking a lot about the question that was posed about what will have to be left out. And a ton of the biographical research that I have done and really interesting things about him will have to be left out in the presentation for sure. We only have 20 minutes and the focus is not at all on what happened in each year of his 63-year life.
The process of putting everything together into one PowerPoint presentation has been made much more convenient through advanced-sharing technology (GoogleDocs), but also a bit less cohesive and group-involved. It is really nice to see the information that everyone is constantly putting up and to be able to add to it and make comments and all, but the element of all group members working together at once and always being on the same track in the thought/creation process is lost now. Having said that, the last few days, I have been reading so many amazing things about Vivaldi's life and the people and culture (especially culture of art and music) in early 18th century Venice. There is a lot of contextual history that I am having to leave out of the presentation for obvious reasons of time and speed of getting to the main argument. Still, the European history nerd in me does not want to let go of all the details of the Hapsburg dynasty and the Republic of Venice as an acquired territory of the Austrian empire, etc.
I feel like the presentation went well. Each of us took our turn and present our area of the "Divide and Conquer" and the 20-minute time limit was perfect for us. For my section on Vivaldi's biography, I felt good about three to four slides I had and presented the information clearly and elaborated some too. I wanted to keep going into more detail about his time at "La Pieta" and the influence of Handel and his operas when he came to Venice in 1709, but kept it to just the necessary context. I did feel a bit of a disconnect between all of us because of how we put it together mostly over GoogleDocs and the fact that each of us was tackling a relatively broad and extensive category in and of itself (Vivaldi's life, his works, 18th century Venetian society, etc.). It was a fun challenge and I learned a lot given the fact that I knew very little previously about Vivaldi or Baroque Italian opera. It was an engaging exploration for the last part of the class and to be able to actually put into practice many of the things that we have been talking and writing about in class in terms of historiography and the research process. Our overall argument was still a bit too broad and could have been more directly addressed with more information and time given to the political and social representation of the Republic of Venice at that time through Vivaldi's powerful and lesser known operas.