Out West student blog

Yellowstone, Green Library, and the Bluescreen

Marina gets to know California through hikes with her dog. (photo credit: Marina Luccioni)

By Marina Luccioni '21
Hometown: London, United Kingdom
Major: Undeclared
Research Intern, Galatée Films

I spent summer working for the french film company Galatée Films, as a researcher for their upcoming film, The Photographer. I focused on the area around and including Yellowstone National Park from the 1860-80’s, with an emphasis on Native American presence and interplay with the ecology and other historical events in the region.

A photo from a book about Native American presence in Yellowstone. (photo credit: Marina Luccioni)

My internship was remote meaning I spent a fair amount of time perusing the Green Library stacks on campus. I ended up with a pile of books big enough to warrant locker space in the basement and one day as I sat on the floor fiddling with the radial lock on my book locker door, I couldn’t help but see irony in my methods of research versus their content. I was reading and googling about a type of knowledge and cultures which fundamentally prioritize embodied, place-based understanding, the opposite of remote methods I was using for my research, and even communication with my boss at Galatée. Everything I was reading suggested that I needed to be on the land in Yellowstone to see and feel the place and people there to better understand the history. I should be talking to elders and asking about their memories or oral histories instead of listening to recorded interviews. I came across that sentiment repeatedly, feeling sometimes sceptical and sometimes tickled by this tension in the work I was doing.

The Photographer is still in production, with the script-writing stage concluded around the same time as my internship. It was exciting to think of my small fact and story searching being paralleled by a bigger team actively crafting narrative. Skyping my boss to check in every few weeks was always a positive exchange and sprouting of ideas for more research. At our last call I asked to read the script once it was finalized and he said he hadn’t realized I also read French. He exited the screen for a few minutes and came back with a stack of books he had written on the topic of animals and humans and humans and the environment. “Give me your address and I’ll send you some!”

Appreciating plants on Stanford's campus

I started summer keen to make sure that my final timeline/essay/deliverable was approved and helpful for Galatée. But ultimately the work was more relationship building and process oriented, valuable for the energy and ideas brought up through discussion. I sometimes felt disappointed in myself for knowing but failing to act on this idea of the power of place and immersion into an environment as a way of learning. But as surely as some important understandings are place based, I found there is value to be had too in the abstract, created spaces. Interest, challenge, support, inspiration… all folded in pixels of Skype calls, made this summer really unique.


An impressive rock formation found in Arizona during a long-weekend roadtrip. (photo credit: Marina Luccioni)


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