May. 13th, 2010 09:46 am
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I just got the proof of my book review (i.e., how it will look in print, with the journal running heads and my name and everything). AHHHHHH, SO EXCITING!
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I re-read Possession this week. I read it before starting grad school, and it seemed appropriate to do the same after said schooling. (I did a similar read/re-read of Kluge's Alma Mater pre- and post-Kenyon.)

I still feel much the same way I did four years ago, although this time through, I could see, well, deeper into it than before, since I actually have a clear idea of the differences between structuralism and post-structuralism, or who Lacan is, or the crappy working conditions Roland in particular labors under.

...I had some thoughts about my own scholarship and criticism and the novel, but I don't seem able to put them in words. It was something about how the novel privileges both the historical context and the text, and so seems to be similar to my own style of criticism, which I think of as a blend of updated New Criticism and New Historicism (which, yes, I realize is like saying I am both a libertarian and a communist, or something equally impossible, but...it works for me, really), with a bit of cultural materialism/Marxist criticism for spice, mostly because I spent the past year with Jameson; and it was also something about how close readings seem to be coming back in style in contemporary criticism, though with the shadow of the context-heavy New Historicist style laying on them, which means that for once I am on the vanguard of a zeitgeist.

Anyway. I submitted my grades today, so I am officially finished with the semester, and thus, school. I should be thrilled, but at the moment, I'm staring down the abyss of real life and trying to get up the courage to jump. Hope my parachute works.*

* I should probably do a chromatic analysis of it at some point in the near future.
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The editor took my revised book review with only minor stylistic changes! Woot! And I turned in the dance paper while I was up on campus this morning, so my semester is ooooooover!

...Except for grading. I'm pretty sure Coleridge's albatross was named "grading." But by tomorrow evening, once I blitz through the twelve or so papers I'll be picking up in the morning, I'll never have to grade another one!

Of course, now the agony of the job search starts. If anyone knows of editorial jobs (in any genre--nonfiction, fiction, poetry, whatever), or of university-related administrative-type positions, will you send them my way? I think I may also try to track down a couple freelancing jobs in the next couple months as I hunt for a full-time job, if only to have some writing samples that aren't academic in nature.

My other goal for the month is to turn the dance paper and part of my thesis into journal articles and send them off to my first-choice journals for each of them. Sadly, scholarly journals generally don't pay for articles, but I figure, since I'm looking for jobs in publishing, it can't hurt and might help to have some experience on the other side of the process.
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Things I Never Thought I Would Use in a Paper for $200, Alex: Lyrics from "The Continental" as a section header.

And now I have the song stuck in my head. I hate that song. Argh.

Still don't have a good title. Working title is "Graphs of the Heart, Charts of the Mind: Social Dance in American Ballrooms, The Voyage Out, and The Gay Divorcee." I'm not in love with it. Suggestions welcome.

In addition to titling things, I attempted to tighten the writing, cut unnecessary words and sentences, etc. I did that, but wound up adding more, to the tune of two extra pages. The beast is now more than 34 pages.

Title help

May. 8th, 2010 06:20 pm
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I need a catchy title for my dance paper. Suggestions? It covers exhibition dancers Vernon and Irene Castle, Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, specifically The Gay Divorcee. Puns are appreciated, as are titles involving the names of ballroom dance steps.
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I have been delivered of a bouncing baby revised draft! It is...32.5 pages. That's just about half the length of my thesis, researched and written in less than a quarter of the time. Ooof. I am so watching a movie tonight.


Flood stuff:

The most amazing thing about this video is not the footage of a road in Cheatham County that the flood ripped up and deposited on top of some houses. Rather, it is the fact that the neighborhood residents, rather than wait until the state can fix the road, got some bulldozers and started fixing it themselves. I am officially impressed.

Jon Stewart gave the whole situation his usual amusing color commentary. I particularly liked the Detroit reference. ;)


Some of this is flood-related as well, but check out this person's amazing HDR photos of Nashville and other places. I cannot even tell you how much I want the software he uses to make them.
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Diana Gabaldon is Wrong On The Internet. I've skimmed a few of the comments; it looks like she's getting schooled pretty well by fandom.

I really liked this post from [livejournal.com profile] bookshop in response: I'm done explaining to people why fanfic is okay./List of derivative works.

That post made me wonder about something. It seems that there are a lot of academics--specifically in literature, and more generally in the humanities--in fandom, or at least I seem to know/know of several grad students, professors, and undergrads in those disciplines. Basically, there are a lot of people around who like to take a text apart and put it back together in a new configuration, or look something about it from a different viewpoint, or recontextualize it, or look at it in conjunction with another text or theory, or otherwise analyze it and speculate on it. This, coupled with my own experience, got me thinking about whether there might be a connection there.

For me, writing fanfic and writing a paper spring from the same well. I write because I want to know more about a source text. Sometimes that takes the form of delving into books and journals and researching what other people have said on it, then writing my own interpretation. Sometimes it takes the form of reading and writing fanfic. And maybe the results look dissimilar, but really, when you get down to it, there's not that much difference--for me--between 1.) noticing that Eavan Boland uses map imagery a lot in her later poetry, thinking/researching about it, and writing a paper thesis about what it might mean and how we might interpret it, and 2.) noticing that Ivanova and Garibaldi had some kind of flirtation going on in the early seasons of Babylon 5, thinking about it, and writing fic about how I interpret what I see on the screen, and how it might have played out if things had gone beyond flirtation. They use different forms of rhetoric, but for me, they scratch essentially the same itch to look deeper at the source. As [livejournal.com profile] bookshop writes here, "Fan fiction is natural. It's also part of a literary tradition of deconstructing, evaluating, and critiquing authorial texts."

Another similarity between my papers and my fics is that both are also in conversation with the source text and other voices. For a paper, it's other scholars, as when I quote from their work or paraphrase their ideas and offer my evalutation; for a fic, it's other fans, other "pro" sources, and, oh, a million other things I've read. One of them has even been directly influenced by academic sources: this fic. Essentially, I tried to take the argument made in the quoted excerpt and demonstrate it in story form. (And now I'm writing a paper on Astaire and Rogers using that as a source! I have Thoughts on the movies, and I want to Figure Them Out, so I write fic, and I write papers, choosing my format after considering what those thoughts are. Same damn thing.)


Actually, I lied about the break from flood coverage. This has to be the most uplifting response to a natural disaster ever: Nashville water supply saved by Davidson County inmates. I hear that HandsOnNashville, which is organizing all the relief efforts in the area, had their website go down from the volume of people wanting to sign up to volunteer. The news has been littered with stories of people going out of their way to rescue neighbors from flooded homes, offering shelter, donating all kinds of supplies, etc. Tennesseans are certainly living up to the "Volunteer State" moniker.
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Apparently the flood of the last three decades is going on in Nashville right now.

Stay dry, Nashville folks! We're supposed to get that same rain tonight and tomorrow in Knoxville, but then again, we were supposed to get rain today too, and it kept dodging us, like there was a forcefield or something. I won't complain.

I will complain (yet again) about my paper, though. I'm finally to the part I was really excited about--the Astaire/Rogers section--and I can't make myself get beyond the first sentence. Arrrgghhh.
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You know, using X-Files episodes as the proverbial carrot to enjoy once I finish working on the paper for the night is not the best idea, because it leads to me watching creepifying TV at 1 o'clock in the morning. GAH.

(On the upside: I'm done with a draft of the Virginia Woolf section of the paper! It is now...26 pages. And I still have the Astaire/Rogers section to go, plus when I start revising I'll probably need to add a few paragraphs to the Woolf section which put the dance chapter in the context of the rest of the novel. This paper will never end...)

Anyway, I just watched "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas," and...I did not realize that Chris Carter actually understood how MESSED UP Mulder and Scully and their relationship are. Because my god, yes, the ghosts were spot on in their critiques: codependency, narcissism, need to prove the other wrong...yep, it's all there.*

And yet, the moment Scully said, "Maybe I did want to be out there with you," it all flew out of my mind and I collapsed in a puddle of AWWWWWWWW. Oh, god, they are so screwed up, and yet so perfect together in spite of the codependency and everything else. I just...I... *squishes them*

* My secret joy is fanfic where we get into Scully's head and get to hear the constant barrage of "Mulder, you BASTARD!"s you know she must be thinking every time he ditches her or condescends or otherwise does something jerkish. I've started filling in for her when I watch the episodes. It gets said a lot.
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You know, I rarely bother to find out anything about actors in shows or movies I like. When you get right down to it, it's kind of like finding out the favorite food (or whatever) of John Smith, systems engineer from Tulsa. They're just people.* However, I'm surprised I managed to get this far without knowing David Duchovny left the English PhD program at Yale ABD.** That's a pretty awesome example of life after academia. :D

Now I have this urge to write XF fic featuring practically nothing but literary references. (Not that this is all that different from many of my fics.) I'm going to guess someone else has already done this and titled the resulting fic "Magic and Technology in Contemporary American Fiction and Poetry" (his rather prophetic diss. title).

Speaking of English degrees, I should get back to my paper. I failed utterly in getting four pages yesterday--I managed one--but today I should really at least come close to finishing the Virginia Woolf section...

* I suppose writers are just people as well, but sometimes biographical info does aid in criticism of their work, so I'm more open to learning about their pasts.

**And now--well, in 1999--makes offhand references to Harold Bloom.
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All right. I need to have four more pages written on my paper by the end of the day. Someone slap me if I don't do that, eh?

(This paper is roughly halfway done and it's already 17+ pages. I WILL NEVER FINISH, OMG.)
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For their quiz today, I had my students write a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy entry on any subject they wanted. It was pretty great, although they seemed strangely resistant to reading them out loud. I eventually got a few to volunteer, though.

I'm making much progress on my dance paper, now that I'm finally writing it instead of just researching and making notes. The prof and I are both pleased. And I get to indulge my inner history minor, because about a third of the paper is essentially a history of the Castles' rise to fame and of ragtime dance. Fwah.


Apr. 8th, 2010 04:45 pm
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Band name of the day (inspired by a sentence I just wrote in my annotated bibliography): Mrs. Dalloway and the Waves.
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Chapters/articles left to read and annotate: 7
Critical sources I should probably find on Walter Benjamin's "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"*: 2? 3?
Pages of a draft I need to write: 3-5, I guess
Sources I need to pull quotations, etc. from before I can start drafting: At least 5, and preferably all 18-23 (depending on how many Benjamin sources I find/use)
Days I have to do all this in: 8


And tonight I need to type up a lecture on the essay I had my students read for Thursday, because it's littered with terms like "alterity," "hegemony," and "metonym," so yeah, we're going to need to work through that.

* Suggestions welcome, if you know of any.


Apr. 5th, 2010 12:14 pm
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I passed my defense!!

ETA: After the initial burst of excitement... It went really well. All three of my committee members think the thesis could be turned into both an article and a book. I'm going to meet with one of them later this semester to talk about how to write a proposal for publishers.

In the zone

Apr. 3rd, 2010 11:03 pm
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Okay. I've officially absorbed all I can about the Western canon. I started with Beowulf at nine this morning and finished with Song of Solomon a few minutes ago. I discovered as I rehearsed my spiels about Joyce's modernist aislingí; borderer tensions in Henry V; objectification and agency of women in Donne, Herrick, Keats, Yeats, and Heaney; and the relationship between Wordsworthian Romanticism, Shelly's Defense, and Emerson's transcendentalist essays, that I could easily take up an hour or more with just them if my committee gives me enough rein to do it, so that makes me feel pretty good. (I can also do a mean analysis of Jude the Obscure and naturalism if necessary, then throw in some Ian Watt as he relates to Pamela and Emma, not to mention go on for aaaaages about time, layers of consciousness, and unreliable narration in Woolf, Conrad, and/or Ford. As long as they start me out on one of these--and I'm betting it'll be the objectification topic, as it follows directly from the thesis, which we'll spend the first half hour talking about--I'm good to go.)

Tomorrow I'm going to sit and just re-read some of Boland's poetry, because, hey, probably a good idea to have it fresh in my head, and also to remind myself that, oh, yes, I do actually like her work, even after the past year working so closely with it.
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Rejected title for this week's response in my Modernism class: "'The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected. Please try again. Or maybe you should just give up all together, because the idea that you can connect emotionally with other people is a foul and pernicious lie, leading only to unhappiness and pain. Have a nice day': Disconnected in D.H. Lawrence."

I think I'll just use what's after the colon. Although the pre-colon title does indicate exactly what my response is about...

(T-4.5 days until my defense. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH.)
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Okay, either I have just discovered a completely untapped vein of literary criticism, or the new MLA database search algorithms really are that bad.

*checks other databases*

Wait. Seriously, no one has written anything connecting Chopin's Awakening to Woolf's A Room of One's Own? Not a single person? Okay, yes, it probably wouldn't make up a whole journal article by itself, but no one's even made it part of a chapter or article or anything?

Darn. Now I almost wish I were going on, just so I could write that paper. 'Cause it's that obvious.
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My Modernism prof loved my formal paper proposal, so that's good. She recommended a section of another book for me to read, this one on Unanimism in Woolf's writing, which is also good, as it sounds terribly helpful, although at the moment the thought of adding anything else to my gargantuan bibliography kind of makes me hyperventilate. I just hope she doesn't expect me to have it all read by the time we meet on Thursday, 'cause that won't happen.

I got the impression that my thesis chair is okay with me not making any more changes to my thesis unless I want to/have time, so that's pretty amazing. I do want to fix the opening, the first two paragraphs of which he says could be clarified (and I agree), but at least I don't have to do it before the defense. As long as I can get it done to my satisfaction by 4/23, it's all good.

I am all but done with typing up my oral exam review! I have, um, 54 single-spaced pages full of bullet points about pretty much the entire Western canon. I lack only some stuff on Oronooko, The Scarlet Letter, My Antonia, Midnight's Children, Waiting for Godot, and a couple Stoppard plays. I do need to go back over my underlinings in Antonia and Gatsby (although the Gatsby one are from junior year of high school, so who knows how helpful they'll be...but anyway). My study group and I are going to have our own mock exams on Saturday and Monday, which should be nerves-calming. Maybe. I'm also going to track down my entire committee and make them aware of what I actually want to talk about in this thing. (To wit: BRITISH MODERNISM. And when we can't talk about that, British and American Romanticism, British Victorianism, twentieth-century American drama, American poetry from Whitman to the present, and perhaps the postmodern novel, plus some Shakespearean histories and maybe some Beowulf if we must. I could probably do a brief section of the eighteenth-century novel if I had to, but if they give me a question on the seventeenth century I'm going to cry. If they ask me about the medievals I'll probably still cry, but not as hard. Actually, if we could just clear off pretty much everything before 1800, I'd be okay with that...)

I hear through the grapevine internets that Castle got 3.6 in the ratings last night, beating a first-run episode of CSI: Miami. WOOT! And given the ending, I'm guessing a bunch of those new people will be tuning back in next week... :D
icepixie: ([NX] Chris on Christmas Eve)
Hmmm. As I recall, Chris quotes Walt Whitman a lot in the "Democracy in America" episode of Northern Exposure. Perhaps if I watch it today, I could count it as part of my review...

(Oh god, I am so. tired. of working every waking hour. At least the grading is mostly done...)

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