For the first time in years I was ready to go back to school. I found myself pacing my home office making stacks of books, ready to just get back into the routine. Each month of the summer felt like it’s own summer. I’m excited about the prospects of a new school year. Here’s the plan:
PhD Stuffs: This fall I need to turn in my course of study to the Grad Committee and start seriously putting together the committee for my exams and thinking about my rationale and reading list. I have ideas; I just need to put them in motion. My biggest concerns, really, are 1) How do I distinguish this work clearly from my Master’s work. 2) People keep asking me how my project relates to literature. Great question considering I am a literature student, right? To ground a very cultural studies type project in my actual field, I need some primary texts, yo. I am working on it.
Fizzling Primary Research: Last semester a fabulous professor helped me start a qualitative research project in which I would be interviewing high school girls. After running around like mad for a few weeks doing recruitment pitches, I walked away with a staggering…one participant. blerg blerg blergity. So I need to get that off the ground again and probably go through the IRB for a change in my recruitment method. *disappointed sigh*
Modernism’s Bodies: One of my two grad seminars this semester is on bodies in Modernism. We’re looking at cool things like the body in mechanical culture, cyborgs, post humanism, Thing Theory(!?), and etc. The first week we read The Great Gatsby in connection with a book chapter about car crashes and the relationship between speed and modernity. It was badass. This week we’re reading Gertrude Stein, who I will always think of as Kathy Bates. Thank you, Woody Allen. Also, this:
Anyway, I’m excited about this class, my classmates, my teacher, and the different subtopics. I have a nugget of a seminar paper idea already. On the first day we watched a short silent movie in preparation for class discussion and in her wisdom, YouTube kept showing me links to old, old versions of Alice in Wonderland. That got me thinking that the body is used in strange ways in that novel. In Men in Wonderland, Catherine Robson points out that the little girl’s body knows no bounds as she becomes bigger than her enemies or tiny, etc. Given the different approaches the Victorians and Modernists took to the body, as well as changing ideas about childhood and femininity, looking at how Alice’s body is portrayed in films of the 19teens and 20s could be interesting. If it hasn’t already been done.
Latina/o Cultural Citizenships: My other seminar is also going to be super duper awesome. It’s focused on cultural citizenship and the politics of nation, the state, citizenship, and rights in Chicana/o and Latina/o literature and culture. I feel like I have kind of a steep learning curve here because I’ve never formally studied Latina/o literature before, but the prof gave me some titles I can look into if I feel like I need some more background. I’m finding that the more we get into the material, the less behind I feel, so that’s good. Also, the class is kind of theory heavy, but the readings are going to be helpful with defining the boundaries and basis of my PhD project, since I am looking at nationalism and transnational feminism. Therefore, I’m excited for this class because I’m a nerd and I know I am going to learn a lot and also that I will get a crash course in theory that I really, really need. Yes! I have no idea what I’m going to write about, but it’s only week two, so that’s okay, I think. 😉
Hunger Games and Such: In November, I’m on a panel at the Midwest MLA conference, giving a paper about gifts and debt in The Hunger Games. So I should probably write that. Also, a friend and I are looking for a conference in New Orleans if you hear of anything…
The Tao of Bow wow: I haven’t bought a parking pass yet because they closed enough spaces near my building that I just didn’t want to deal with it until it’s gross out. I’m finding that by walking a lot more and taking the road rage out, there’s a lot more peace in my day. The dog is enjoying longer walks as well. In general, I’m trying to live with more quiet, structure, and simplicity this fall. No big changes, really, just saying no to things (Hell’s Kitchen, chip dip, another glass of wine) I know aren’t going to be conducive to feeling satisfied with my day when my head hits the pillow and yes to things that will (reading slower, Saturday morning brioche, the dog park, quiet music). I’ve met up with some Secular Franciscans in my area and am trying to order my days toward greater happiness and less stress. The crazy thing is, without rushing, I’m getting more and better work done too. In college my philosophy was that time I gave to God (in prayer, listening to friends, etc.) would always come back to me and it always did somehow. Then I sort of got caught up in the rat race and I had no time ever for three years. Suddenly everything’s going so well that I find I’m looking over my shoulder. But I’m not doing anything wrong, so I’m just going to bask in the peace of simple, simple things. And I’m going to be very thankful. And bide my time until Fall really comes and brings with her the joys of pumpkin beer and pumpkin everything else.
Under a Blue Moon: Finally, I wonder, is there such a thing as age dysmorphia? Because the last year felt like five. I’m thirty, I swear. I mean, nothing wrong with that, but I find myself mentally noting that I am 25 on many days. And I think that has something to do with my “Okay, life, let’s do this” attitude of late. Last night was a blue moon and there isn’t another until July 2015. As Rory and I walked outside I found myself waxing romantic and thinking that by that next blue moon I’ll have my PhD and…And I hope that’s a loaded ellipses because there’s so much more I want from life. And then it was too cloudy to see the stinking moon. If you could see it, I hope you wished a wish for your next three years.