This is the final post in a series of interviews conducted by the Woodruff Library with the 2016-2017 Woodruff Library and Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) Fellows. Funded by the Laney Graduate School School, the Woodruff Library and Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) awards fellowships to advanced graduate students expecting to complete their dissertations by the end of the fellowship period. Fellows are placed within the Woodruff Library and ECDS to work in an area related to their subject specialization or interest, culminating in a formal presentation in the Spring.
An Interview with Rebekah Ramsay
Woodruff: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your favorite book? What’s your favorite thing about Emory/Atlanta? Etc.
Rebekah: I am a PhD Candidate in the History Department, and came to Emory by way of Kentucky, Kazakhstan, New York, and Scotland. Emory has been a wonderful place to work; I particularly appreciate how many students, faculty, and staff combine dedication to academic scholarship with commitment to serving communities beyond the university. My favorite things about Atlanta are the gardenias and tea olives, the international population, and the way the city becomes more fascinating the longer you live in it. I don’t think I could choose just one favorite book, but most recently I’ve loved Rabih Alameddine’s The Hakawati for its imaginative reflections on history and storytelling.
Woodruff: What are you researching for your dissertation?
I am researching the 1920s and 1930s in Kazakhstan – the period between the end of the Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of World War II. Over the course of these two decades, Kazakh nomadic pastoralist communities, relatively autonomous under the Russian empire, were forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union. This transformation was accompanied by massive devastation, violence, and famine, but it also laid the foundation for ongoing Kazakh participation in the new Soviet society. My dissertation focuses on the latter aspects of these early twentieth-century upheavals, specifically the impact of the “cultural revolution” (as it was called at the time) in rural Kazakh communities and the formation of an idea of Kazakh Soviet citizenship. In addition to expanding the English-language scholarship on Kazakh history, I hope my research will contribute to broader discussions about the interplay of imperialism and modernization, the construction of citizenship in multiethnic states, and the histories of religion, literacy, and gender.
Woodruff: What interested you about the Woodruff Library Fellowship?
Rebekah: I have been addicted to libraries since I was old enough to crawl into the hobbit-themed reading nook at our local public children’s library. Aside from this longstanding attachment, I was interested in this fellowship as an opportunity to improve my understanding of the resources available in academic libraries, the ways that library services are structured, and the best practices for research support. I am particularly looking forward to learning how subject librarians develop and maintain high-quality research collections, and to learning more about how to use library resources in teaching. The wealth of resources and active attention to these issues at Woodruff Library make it an amazing place to gain experience in these areas.
Woodruff: What will you be working on this year for your Woodruff Library Fellowship?
Rebekah: I will be working on several projects during the fellowship year. One is to create a white paper on how the library can best support Religion as a field of research. In the course of gathering information for this, I look forward to speaking with various constituents at Emory and learning how they use (or would like to use) library resources. A second project is to conduct a survey of Emory’s collection of artists’ books with a Southern Studies focus, and to make the information accessible through the “Artists’ Books Showcase.” I will also be working with the subject librarians for American History and Literature to contribute to library support for Southern and African American Studies. In addition to these projects, I will help to process a collection of Russian-language books recently gifted to the library.