Shamaila Anjum is a third-year Victoria College History Major currently doing a study abroad year at Oxford University. In May, 2016, Shamaila participated in the Jackman Scholars-In-Residence project, working with Professor Thomas Keymer's research group on "Literature and Seditious Libel: 1660-1830."
Tell us a bit about your current interests - what are you working on?
I'm currently very interested in the field of medical history, and am in fact researching disability in medieval England this term as part of my history course. There have been some really exciting developments in the field, including new theories regarding how emotional responses to grief or pain have changed. There is even research being done on the effectiveness of medical remedies in history- some really strange remedies actually worked!
What do you find most exciting about independent research?
Independent research is very, very fun, because you're looking at a question you're personally interested in, and in a lot of ways you're doing it on your own terms. It's also very exciting when you make a discovery, even a tiny one-the joy of finding something new and interesting is absolutely fantastic.
Would you recommend an undergraduate research experience to other students?
I cannot recommend independent research enough. It gives you a new appreciation for your field and makes you fall in love with it all over again. Plus it's a unique opportunity at the undergraduate level- not many undergraduates get a chance to actually experience what it's like to be an expert instead of just a student.
Have you had any teachers or mentors who were / are particularly helpful or inspiring?
I've had many great instructors at U of T, and many have been very inspiring and encouraging of my academic career. In particular, Professor Alison Smith, Professor Jason Dyck, Professor Jeremy Lopez, and my Scholars-in-Residence supervisor Professor Thomas Keymer have been very supportive, and many of my current academic interests have developed due to their great teaching and their mentorship.
Do you have any words of advice for other students who may be interested in pursuing this sort of research?
Firstly, do it. Secondly, make sure you actually are interested in your research. Don't be scared on this point, because research interests do change, but do be fairly certain that you will enjoy the topic, or else you won't benefit from it.
What are your goals / plans for the future?
I hope to continue on to graduate work in history, and eventually to obtain a Ph.D.