Elianna Lee

Research Assistant , Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Area of Expertise

Humanities Social Sciences

Research Topic

Ethnic & Racial Studies Gender Studies

Influencer Of

Recent Comments

Jun 29, 2022
Replying to Charlotte Hoskins
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

The biggest challenge I have faced with my project was the scope I could research, and the ways I wanted to approach it. When speaking to my faculty advisor about using this one book as a primary source on Australia's Stolen Generation and White Australia Policy, she proposed the idea of looking at literature itself to frame my research and the questions I had. I definitely ran with this idea, and by selecting a few literary works, I was able to narrow my research. Rather than focusing on imperialism in a broader sense, I have shifted to focus more on settler colonialism itself. 

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

CLIO and Columbia Libraries more broadly have been so helpful for my research. There are so many books (including Australian literature and history texts!) that I didn't think I would be able to get my hands on for my project, but through CLIO I was able to obtain them. 

Hi Charlotte! I love how you narrowed the scope to settler-colonialism by interacting with the literature. I feel as though its common to realize the true scope of your research after engaging with the materials themselves.

Jun 29, 2022

What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

Coming into this research project, I had made a plan to solely focus on children and teen's media and products, however, as I came to do more research I realized that the scope of my project must broaden in order to fully realize why some of the products I was looking at came to be. So, in doing my research, I began focusing on bigger pop culture events of the early 2000s in order to more thoroughly understand the relationship between pop-culture and children's media.


What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

Toy collector blogs and videos have proven particularly useful, as they are often made by those who track the production of dolls in detail, and they have also been useful in finding other sources that were not available on proquest or clio.

Jun 18, 2022
Replying to Fatima Ahmad
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I think the ultimate goal of my current research is to write a paper, perhaps a magazine article. Currently, I'm working on something similar to an annotated bibliography, where I'm doing a bunch of different readings and taking notes on them/analyzing. As such, this is definitely the first phase of my research. I hadn't anticipated how long it would take me to read texts in Urdu, and how long it would take to come down to a more narrow focus of study. I think the rest of my summer will definitely be spent synthesizing this research into a more cohesive and understandable piece of writing. I'll be happy having read as much literature as I can by the end of Laidlaw, and have compiled a good list of sources/notes. I came into Laidlaw with this belief that I would have a paper written, but as I spoke to my advisor and mentor, this isn't a very realistic approach to the study I am conducting, especially because so much time goes into first having a good basis/understanding of your topic and then finally getting around to specifying. 

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research matters because it makes Manto's literature more accessible. What I mean by this is that there are many English translations on Manto's work. There are also works which analyze and explain Manto's stories, like Toba Tek Singh and Thanda Gosht. However, when it comes to criticism on Manto, this is mainly found in Urdu writing, and much of the text has not been translated nor discussed. I want to make Manto accessible by making all perspectives on him accessible in academia that is so heavily reliant on the English language. Furthermore, I think criticism is important because Manto is seen as a literary icon of his time period, and to some extent, he is. His stories hit you, especially those on the Partition. However, Manto was largely influenced by other writers during this time period, and I want to re-imagine Manto in this larger context.

hi Fatima! I definitely agree- i came into this program thinking six weeks would be enough for a thorough research project, and now as I am actually doing research, I've realized it's much more complex. I also really enjoy your aim to make Manto more accessible! 

Jun 18, 2022

While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

Though writing a research paper is a more conventional way to present my research information, I would really love to have a multimedia project which reflects the interdisciplinary nature of my research question. My project is a part of a larger project by my faculty advisor since Professor Paredez plans on using my research for a chapter in a book about the "American diva", but I have many different ideas for further research throughout the summer. I expect to create a zine or a multimedia poster as a culmination of my work, and I expect that to be a good amount of work as I want my final project to be thorough.


Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research matters because as we are constantly taking in information, whether it's through television, music, or advertisements, our own perceptions are influenced greatly by our surroundings. I think it is important to analyze the cultural moments that we have grown up with, and how consumerism continues to reflect the interest of profit rather than the consumer.

Jun 13, 2022
Replying to Jonathan Truong
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue I’m facing within my domain of literary research is identifying, cataloguing, and citing scholarly criticism. Because my personal experience in narrative theory is limited, I cannot present even the most general principles without proper attribution—especially because many of these theoretical principles are in contention with one another. While this is, of course, standard practice in all research, it’s become more difficult as I continue to discover subtle distinctions between theorists. In order for my research and analysis to maintain integrity, I need to reach a rigorous understanding of the relationship between these scholarly perspectives so as to properly cite them. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

At present, my research is operating within the domain of narratology, a field which is in itself interdisciplinary. Because of this, even the theoretical framework for my research can be looked at from various perspectives—literary studies and hermeneutics, cognitive studies, media and communication studies, etc. Over the past week, I’ve found myself exploring these different branches broadly and extensively. As I discussed with my graduate student mentor, the challenge has consequently become finding a balance between limiting myself to one area of study and simultaneously accommodating these alternate viewpoints.

Another (surprising) challenge has been determining which viewpoints are truly in opposition with one another or presented as “alternate.” I realized this week, for example, that I’d been conflating the positions of theorists on time and narrative; although I’d seen the work of Ricoeur as building upon Weinrich, he actually departs from his theories about the relationship between narrative verbs and the time to which they refer.

hi jonathan! i really like your points about theoretical understanding- i think that being aware of how theory interacts with other theory and the real world is incredibly important in research!

Jun 09, 2022

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The majority of my project thus far has consisted of searching through magazines and advertisements. One ethical concern I have is not allowing my own perception of what the early 2000's were to cloud my own judgement; though some of my own personal insights are important, it is also important to allow other voices to say their piece on their experience in the early 2000's; to respond to this I want to search through online forums and groups that talk about these experiences from a wide range of backgrounds


As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

As I have talked with my graduate mentor and my faculty advisor, they have both enabled me to think of the different ways a "diva" is created, and the influence that they have had on popular culture. This has moved me towards creating a "diva" framework, in order to identify who is considered a diva more accurately.

Jun 04, 2022
Replying to Peyton Barsel
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

The interdisciplinary nature of this program is incredibly helpful to my own project. For instance, there are people in the groups I have been working with that are studying literature and Supreme Court cases, both topics that relate to what I'm studying but not directly. Through listening to them work through what they will be continuing with their projects going forward, I was able to frame my research question in a new light. Now, I have shifted some of the work I'm doing to be more outward-facing to provide the public with more actionable ways to combat political polarization and address the Culture War. 

  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

I anticipate that my scope is too large and I may have a problem with how to package the information in a way that is both helpful and accessible in such a short period of time. I think I need to remain honed in on a smaller research question in order to provide a meaningful result. 

hi peyton! I definitely resonate with having a scope that is too large- hopefully through more readings, you can hone in on one element to research in depth. What I have found to be helpful is to seriously reflect on why I want to do this project, and the people who have come before, and what makes my work different.

Jun 02, 2022

Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

The interdisciplinary nature of this program has really allowed me to think beyond the borders of specific "lenses" that I can study my subject in; I think it is very important to understand that, at any point, a field of study will involve many different areas of study. For example, though it is based in ethnicity and race studies, my project must also be considered through the lens of gender and sexuality studies and media studies. My project does not start and end in the same academic department, and the same goes for any academic endeavor I choose to pursue in the future.

As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

I think one of my biggest challenges this far is being able to search for the information I need in the right way; for example, using specific phrases to get catalog results that are relevant to my project. Another challenge that I anticipate is being able to access media from the early 2000s, as those items may not be old enough to be archived, and may be more difficult to find on the internet.