A few months ago, my sister asked me, “Who is Grace Conroy? What is the first thing that comes to mind? Don’t overthink it.” My answer was “mother to pug, public historian, lover of books, good food, and drinks, and I prefer to spend time with those I love.”
After asking her why she randomly texted me at 3:39 PM on a Saturday to define myself, I learned she asked other family members and close friends the same question to test a hypothesis (a point of context for my sister is that she is in her fourth year of earning her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Houston). Her hypothesis was that people define themselves by their roles; in other words, one’s identity is defined by their relationships to others.
It’s interesting to see how others define themselves and what parameters they form their identity around. At this point in time and after some thought to the question, I would define myself as “mother to pug, public historian, lover of books, good food and drinks, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, and runner, with a touch of anxiety.” And yes, I do realize that my adapted definition includes more roles (maybe your hypothesis had some truth in it, Haley). But for the sake of this class, I will focus on who I am as a scholar and where I want to be post-post-graduation.
Unlike some historians, I do not have a certain area or time period of interest. In my junior year of undergrad, when I interned at the University of Houston’s Public Center for History and its magazine Houston History, I learned that I enjoyed producing history for various topics. During my time with Houston History, I created stories through oral histories and research. I realized that I enjoyed bringing history outside the classroom and presenting it to a public audience. One of my career paths is to join a podcast or production company and work as a generalized researcher for given topics. However, I also fell in love with the process of writing and editing at Houston History, so my other career path is to work for an academic publishing company focusing on historical works or a trade press and focus on nonfiction works.
With either avenue, I foreshadow a heavy digital component. From this course, I hope to learn the ins and outs of producing history online, while also playing around with my “blog voice” and testing new ways to present information.