Upon completing my first draft, I was eager to get feedback so I could straighten out the various loose ends in my paper. After I got my initial feedback from Marie, her and I met in person to discuss my draft at length. One revision we discussed was adding a more in depth description of how visitors visually experience Mission San Juan Capistrano. While adding photos throughout the paper will help, mentioning the layout and most visible features of the mission, such as the elaborate gardens that greet visitors immediately upon entry, will also help readers better understand how specific messages and themes are conveyed at the mission. These are the kinds of details I need to focus on as I begin the revision process.
The biggest challenge so far has been figuring out how to write a sufficient public history paper. Although I believe I am off to a good start, providing more original commentary by eliminating non-essential quotes, adding my own photos of the mission, and elaborating on specific points will strengthen the argument of the paper. One way I intend on doing this is by building off of Michel-Rolf Trouillot’s four-part model without directly quoting or paraphrasing it. Doing so will give me more freedom to tailor Trouillot’s ideas to my own evidence. Another detail that needs to be discussed more is how downtown San Juan Capistrano is branded by the mission. Trash cans and local businesses, for instance, utilize mission architecture and symbols–such as the swallows–in their structure and signage. Though it will take time to add these revisions, I am confident they will strengthen my paper significantly.
Perhaps the strongest point of my paper thus far comes from historian Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, who argues the aesthetic mission gardens posses, “underlying ideologies of identity, power, and privilege” (Kryder-Reid, 17). Kryder-Reid’s argument is one that can be related to several other features of the mission, such as the statues of Fr. Serra and riders of El Viaje de Portolá. Moving forward, I plan on using Kryder-Reid as a bigger jumping off point.