Entry 1: The Kluge Center

The Kluge Center and Office of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress serves as a meeting ground for some of the best  minds in the world who specialize in a range of academic disciplines. Its purpose is to facilitate discourse among top academics and political leaders. Kluge fellows come from all over the world to access the abundant resources of the library and begin conversations with members of Congress. I was fortunate enough to work as a Research Assistant at the Kluge Center during the spring and summer of 2010.

I began my internship in April 2010 helping Dr. Jurgen Kocka, a distinguished visiting scholar of the Social Science Research Center in Berlin, prepare for a series of lectures and ultimately a book on the rise of capitalism. After a short break following the end of the semester, I returned to the Kluge Center and assisted Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush, a world-renowned Islamic historian, in his effort to “contextualize” and “historicize” Islamic philosophy. I completed a comprehensive literature search on the intersection of Islamic thought, Nominalism, and the concepts of rights and duties. Finally, I worked for Dr. Roger Louis, the 2010 Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North and chair of the National History Center’s board of trustees. My principle responsibilities included preparing for congressional briefings on oil spill legislation and immigration and for the National History Center’s annual seminar on decolonization.

Working at the Kluge Center was a great introduction to scholarly research. I was able to see the humble beginnings of lectures and books, to rub shoulders with leading scholars in a variety of fields, to listen to their struggles and triumphs throughout the research process, and to hear constructive criticism on ground-breaking work. The experience taught me more about scholarly research than I could have ever learned in the classroom. I also made invaluable connections with scholars who were more than willing to give me advice on courses, career paths, and the next book to read. I attended both formal and informal lectures held through the Kluge Center, toured different departments of the Library of Congress, and spent several happy months working in one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.