Troubles and Successes in Research

Starting my research project, There have been very rewarding and very stressful parts of this project. At the moment, the project will look at how the American populist tradition manifests in the work of Mother Angelica and the Eternal Word Television Network. Her rhetoric and populist tendencies manifests in the Modern day in online media outlets like Church Militant and Life Site News.


The most rewarding part of this project is seeing the project come together.  When I detect connections between the American populist tradition, the work of Mother Angelica, and modern conservative Catholic media, I felt an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. My project began with me watching a few episodes of Mother Angelica live and reading articles by contemporary media outlets. After watching multiple episodes, I began to see the project coming into focus. I understand research projects to be the process of connecting smaller pieces into a larger argument. I am beginning to see the smaller pieces coming together.

The most frustrating part of my project is not knowing when to stop reading and start writing. I have about seven books and five books that I have yet to read, and I always feel that I do not have enough information to write. The specific topic that I am lacking information on is the history of populism. I know by the final paper, I will have a thorough knowledge of these topics, but I do not feel like I am there at the moment.

My ideas are evolving as I watch and read more about Mother Angelica’s life. When I began to write about Mother Angelica I was only looking at her within the context and her show. After reading more articles from contemporary far right sources, I have began to connect modern Catholic media with the work of Mother Angelica. In other words, I am beginning to place Mother Angelica into more of a context. There were people inspired and influenced by her work.

Mother Angelica

Professor Winling’s presentation gave me some ideas for my project. His focus on the voting habits of individuals in Chicago brought to my minds the audience that media is for. Mother Angelica’s show was written with an audience in mind. Her use of populist rhetoric was geared towards the “average Catholic” who needed to be defended by liberal theologians and misguided bishops. While not the same thing as an average Chicagoan voting in an election, my project deals on some level with the ways larger institutions interact with people on the ground.

Electoral Map of 2019 Chicago Election

My project is coming along nicely and I am excited to see where it goes.

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