readingredhead: (Reading)
So I've already managed to miss a day -- and technically two days, because I feel like my Day 4 "something" is even more of a cheat than usual -- but I'm doing this just as much as part of a mental exercise and refocusing of my current activities under the category of "creation" as I am interested in producing vast quantities of new creative material.

Day 3: I spent almost all day grading student papers. I did write a bunch of responses to those student papers, but it really feels like cheating to call that work creative.

Day 4: I wrote a report that was due today for one of my classes. If it's creative, then it's only really creative in the sense in which it creatively misappropriates Habermas to my own purposes, but I did write it with my very own words (setting the bar low, I know), and I'm going to keep it on the list, because skipping two days in a row would just look sad.

Day 5: That's today! I've actually started work on two future posts for my academic dreamwidth:

1) On reading Dorothy and William Wordsworth in the context of transformative works theory: Dorothy Wordsworth's journals are indisputably the source texts of many of Wordsworth's famous poems ("I wandered lonely as a cloud" and "Resolution and Independence," to name two major ones), but Dorothy is only ever considered important to romanticism as the brother of one of its founding poets. We talked about her in my lecture class today and I found myself thinking about how different the focus would be if we saw Dorothy's journals as a "canon" work and William's poetry as transformative fan work -- immediately we'd escape a lot of the problematically gendered issues that surround the relationship between these texts. I feel like whether students taught this way of relating D & W Wordsworth understood fan culture or not, you could get something important out of the discussion: especially because I suspect that most of the students who are likely to be anti-transformative works are also the same students who would typically put Wordsworth on a pedestal and dismiss Dorothy's works as "feminine jottings," and this context would either force them to a) admit the potential power of transformative works or b) see the intellectual relationship between D & W as intellectually dishonest (and perhaps even abusive) on William's side of the equation... And I would call either of those results a good one. (Also, man, I never thought I would want to teach Wordsworth!)

2) On interiority as social medium in the works of Jane Austen: This started out with my shower epiphany that the trope of "costume theater" in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a modernized vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice -- if you're not watching yet, you should be!) is the closest this adaptation comes to representing free indirect discourse.

Now, this is a hobbyhorse of mine, because I think the dominant narrative about free indirect discourse is all wrong. For many critics of the 18th-century novel, the development of free indirect discourse coincides with a new respect for and valuation of interiority in the real world and not just as represented in fiction. The novel, or so the argument goes, develops FID in order to represent the newly-complex interior states of humans in the world in which it's situated. This argument is usually invested in larger claims about the "rise of the novel" being parallel to the "rise of the individual" and the creation of something like a modern notion of individuality as originality.

But if you actually read a Jane Austen novel, it's obvious that free indirect discourse operates in a much more complicated manner. Yes, it does allow for a narrative representation of an interior space -- but that doesn't mean that interiority = individuality = originality, because more often than not, characters' heads are full of other people's words and phrases. And furthermore, this isn't always a bad thing: while there's a sense that it would be great to have a unique interior language, there's also a sense that this is impossible. Language always belongs to a collective beyond the scope of the individual character, and so the real individuation occurs when you consciously choose which bits and pieces of other people's speech you will allow to represent your own thoughts. (I make these arguments loosely here because I've already sketched them out elsewhere and at great length, mostly with regards to Persuasion, but also in Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice.)

For example: no one disputes that the infamous first sentence of P&P is an example of FID. But it's not at all about the uniqueness of anyone's interior space -- if anything, it's about the crushing generality of public opinion, and Mrs. Bennet's inability to escape from this general public to become her own individuated person. (I call this type of FID "generalized," though I would sort of love a better term.) Another example: at several points in Persuasion, Anne represents her own thoughts using the language of others -- this is particularly visible when she describes the way in which Mrs. Russell persuades her to break off her engagement with Wentworth by describing her own thoughts in language reminiscent of a speech Mrs. Russell has just given. (I need a better term for this type of FID, which I have been thinking of primarily as "ventriloquy" but which is rarely that conscious.)

So, back to the idea of social media: I think that using LBD and the idea of costume theater makes it obvious that there are lots of ways that FID works in the Austen canon. They're harder to see because we've bought into the narrative that interiority = individuality = originality, but these instances often show the severe dependence of our interiority on a social sphere. This sphere is, in LBD, very literally the sphere of social media as we know it -- YouTube, Twitter, etc. -- but in Austen's novels, it's still a mediated social sphere. What the vlog is to LBD, the letter is to P&P, in some ways: audience-oriented interiority (oh dear god and this is the part where, were this a scholarly paper, I would quote Habermas, because damn him he is relevant). Bottom line, I think that LBD's social media rewriting of P&P could actually be a really great pedagogical tool for getting students to understand multiple modes of FID that Austen criticism only rarely differentiates.

ETA: And this idea of interiority as a social space is something that makes me think Austen would be totally in favor of transformative works because she understands the difference between imitation-as-plagiarism and imitation-as-transformation -- she understands that all language is borrowed, and she cares more about how you reflect your own agency in those borrowings than she does about whether you can say something that is wholly and utterly "yours."
readingredhead: (Grin)
So like I said in my previous post, I'm going to very interpret the "something" in the title of "National Create Something Month" very loosely...mostly for the sake of days like yesterday, when the only thing I created was dinner.

But trust me -- it was a good dinner.

There's a restaurant about ten minutes' walk from my apartment called Kitchenette that does the best savory breakfasts. Possibly the best sweet breakfasts, too, but I love them for things like biscuits and eggs and home fries. On weekday mornings, you can get the "Kitchenette Special" for $7.50: biscuit, bacon, two eggs, cheese, and coffee. (This is a steal in Manhattan.) My biscuits might not be quite as good as theirs, but we had heavy cream and I decided I would whip up a very easy biscuit recipe (five ingredients, less than 20 minutes!) and have Kitchenette Specials for dinner.

Kitchenette Special )

I suppose we could also count it as working towards creating something that I spent part of last night watching a punk rock band documentary and thinking about how I want to write a Romantic poets rock band AU...
readingredhead: (Default)
I feel like I am simultaneously under- and over-prepared for basically every one of my finals. I am in a classroom in Wheeler and for no apparent reason decided to hook up my laptop to the AV system. Well. Mostly so I could use the speakers to listen to Pride and Prejudice music. I turned in my kickass Milton paper that makes my life complete, I have my hardest final tomorrow followed by my family coming up for my birthday on Sunday and then two much less difficult finals on Tuesday. I have been reading literary criticism of Milton for fun (and it is fun). I really want to go to Cheese Board on Saturday (oh shit that's tomorrow) because I will miss it dreadfully when I am gone and the pizza looks great.

Really, I want to run outside and cartwheel through the grass in the sun and not worry about anything -- and quote Milton at people for shits and giggles, and maybe some Romantic poets too, since they're all stuck in my head at the moment. And beyond that, I just want to sit for a full day and do nothing but read Turn Coat (the new Jim Butcher book, which my mother bought me for my b-day) and Good Omens (because I have yet to read it, and this is unacceptable) and this Irish play that one of my friends gave me and that I need to get back to him by Tuesday.

Summer will be easily as crazy as school, but in different ways -- and although I'll miss Berkeley like no other, it won't be terrible to be home. At least, for the first two weeks.

Right now I might just need to do something crazy.
readingredhead: (Default)
Today, I have slept in, talked with my sister about the new Star Trek movie in great detail, discovered that there are two different projects going on right now to try to make Paradise Lost into a movie (Milton would die if he weren't dead already), watched an old Star Trek episode while eating breakfast and folding laundry, e-mailed Queen Mary's study abroad people about housing information, looked up books about Milton, and sidetracked my attempt at studying for my Romantics final by instead looking up course descriptions for graduate English classes at Berkeley.

Finals? What finals? You mean it's not already summer?
readingredhead: (Talk)
All things considered, life is going well.

I only have three more classes before finals. Only one of those is an actual lecture. One is my last decal workshop, and the last one involves going down to my printing professor's studio to bind books and hang out and generally party with my fellow printing classmates. So not a bad deal, all things considered. I literally have four things due before the end of the semester (finals not included): three critiques for my decal due Monday, and my final Milton paper due Thursday.

Ah, the Milton paper. Where to begin? It captivated me when I should have been writing my paper for the Romantics. I began working on it and thinking through its terms at least a month ago. It helps that I almost obsessively attend Professor Picciotto's office hours, because I love talking with her about literature. So anyway, I knew what I was writing about for this paper long before I knew what I was writing about for my Romantics paper (which was of course due this Monday, and which was not nearly as pleasant as the Milton paper is being).

I had to struggle to make the Romantics paper long enough while still maintaining coherence. The Milton paper is the exact opposite. When I finally sat down and compiled all my notes and analyses, just writing, I ended up with a 16-page handwritten first draft. This translated to about 13 double-spaced pages in MLA format. The essay was supposed to be 6-8 pages long. But when I talked to Picciotto in office hours today -- for what I cannot believe was the last time until after I get back from the UK! -- and she told me that she doesn't want me to butcher this, she'd rather read a 15-page paper that covers all my points than an 8-page paper that cramps my observations. Am I crazy for being excited that I'm allowed to write a longer paper? I don't care. Seriously, hearing from her that I just have to keep it to 15 pages made my life a whole lot easier.

Since early on in the process of working over this topic with her, she's been suggesting that this is thesis material. Now, in the process of actually writing out everything that was in my head, I suspect she may be right. I keep finding more and more things I can say, more and more ways to expand into different passages in Paradise Lost, or into Milton's other works, or into new avenues of criticism. I have a suspicion that this Milton thesis might actually get written -- the inducement of working closely with Picciotto on an intellectual process is pretty strong.

The problem with this is the small voice in my head that wonders why in the world I'd write a thesis on Milton if he's not who I want to study in grad school. But then that same small voice admits that Milton's fun to work with, and although I'd get sick of no strong female characters and the inability to read novelistically after a while, in concentrated bursts there are things MUCH worse than Milton. And Milton and the Romantics are so integrally connected that maybe it isn't entire nonsense to write about Milton's poetry even if I decide that what I really want to focus on is romanticism and the novel.

(The craziest voice in my head thinks that I should write TWO theses -- this Milton one as an independent study with Picciotto during my first semester, along with one on the Romantics during the traditional English honors year-long course. You can understand why I have called this voice in my head the craziest one. I am endeavoring to ignore it for the sake of my personal health and sanity but it does not desire to be resisted.)

But anyways, in the aspects of my life which are not Milton, everything else is going well. I saw Star Trek last night with Natasha and her people and it was AWESOME. Seriously. How did I not understand the awesomeness that is Star Trek before this? But as a result of this I did not go to sleep last night until something around the order of 2am, and woke up (like usual) at about 8am...six hours of sleep is probably NOT the best plan. I'm just at that point of tiredness now where I don't want to do even the meager homework that I ought to do; I just want to lounge around for a little while more before sleeping. I figure I deserve it. I wrote more of my paper today, had my last day as an Office of Letters and Light intern until after I get back from the UK (*tears up*) and finished editing my notes on Romanticism. All in all, pretty good stuff.

Guys, I'm happy. I know what I want to do with my life, and the people that matter all believe that I'm going to get there. My cheek muscles hurt with smiling. Life is just so worth it.
readingredhead: (Default)
--If I were a professor, I think I'd totally check my profile on RateMyProfessors obsessively at first. And possibly throughout my career.

--If I were a famous published writer, I would want to read the fanfiction people were writing using my characters just to see what strange happenings were going on, but I wouldn't want to for fear that I would want to borrow one of the fanfic writers' ideas!

--This Milton class might be turning me into a Miltonist. But I don't know if that's because I actually like Milton enough, or because this one class on Romanticism has been disappointing when compared against the Milton class. And I don't know if it's fair to think about what I want to do with my life in terms of a single professor who blows me away. (But then again, my initial interest in romanticism was caused by just that -- thank you, Professor Goldsmith!)

--I used to be dead on my feet by 11pm at night, incapable of coherent scholarly thought after 8pm, but now my brain doesn't wind down until after midnight, even if my body's too tired to do much about it. I think this might be why I have had an increasing number of scholastic revelations in the middle of the night or as parts of dreams.

--I bought a plane ticket to London. In less than five months, I will be leaving the country!

--The weather today made me feel complete. It was sunny and warm and I got to wear a skirt and sandals. It's time to bring out the summer clothing, and I am so ready for it.

--My summer schedule is awkward. I technically have a longer-than-usual summer because I don't leave for London until September 17th, but I'm spending most of July on a family vacation so although I will be home for June, portions of July, August, and portions of September, I probably won't be able to get a job. Grar.

--Script Frenzy is just not as easy as NaNoWriMo. You'd think that, if I could write an 80,000-word novel in a month, I could write what amounts to a 20,000-word screenplay. Well, I can -- it's just a lot harder than it sounds.

--I should stop this and go to sleep.
readingredhead: (Default)
I for sure have homework I should be doing now -- like the reading I promised myself I'd finish today, so that I could spend tomorrow beginning work on the 8-10 page essay that's due for my romantics class on May 4th (I know, I know, that sounds like forever away, but this is probably the latest I've ever started thinking about an essay that long). In contrast, I have what I believe is a 6-8 page Milton essay due May 14th and I've already seen my Milton professor about it three or four times and have massive planning documents (this is also because I have a suspicion that Picciotto is turning me into an unwilling Miltonist). The paper might be shorter than that, actually.

I've basically been entirely ignoring Astronomy, but that's probably not a good idea, and probably my grade in the class is starting to reflect it. But I can't bring myself to think about H-R diagrams when the alternatives are so much more alluring.

This is just procrastinating. I should go now.

Oh. And I'm also still trying to write a screenplay for Script Frenzy this month, and I don't know why. I'm occasionally interested but most of the time it just feels like a chore. Currently, I'm trying to figure out how two of my characters fell in love, and I can't for the life of me recall. I feel like there was some scene, some revelation, some moment where the love was understood -- but I'm adapting a former NaNoWriMo novel into a screenplay with the added challenge of not looking back to the source text of the novel, and so I don't know exactly what's going on. Maybe I should stop trying it and stick to NaNoWriMo? Who knows.
readingredhead: (Default)
I am strangely busy.

I mean, okay, I should expect some degree of insanity. I'm taking 18 units worth of classes, co-teaching another 2 units worth. I work an average of 8 hours a week for pay and intern for another 4-6 unpaid. I am in two literature classes, each of which requires a good deal of reading and writing, and I am in two writing workshops. For one of those, I don't have to write short stories, but I do have to write extended and thoughtful critiques of student stories. I average 6 pages (single-spaced) of written short fiction criticism a week, between these two classes.

But this month is particularly difficult. I'm busy with something every weekend, even if the things don't take up the whole weekend. Also, I'm thinking I might be getting sick again, and the very idea of illness makes me want to cry. I don't have time to be sick. And yet apparently I have time to stay up late so that I don't get enough sleep so that my immune system isn't terribly strong so that my mother tells me it's my fault I'm sick (and really, it probably is).

I am behind on reading for my Milton class. I hear that for other people, this is normal, but not for me. I was ahead so much in that class that I haven't read for perhaps a month, but am only just now getting behind.

I made printer's pie today in printing class (which sounds much more fun than it is). Basically it's a nice way of saying that you screwed up some lines and will have to spend painstaking hours fixing them. I don't know why it's called after something as delicious as pie.

I have a 10-page paper due for one of my classes at the end of the month. I'm writing for Script Frenzy again, and I won't let myself lose...but the paper is due the day after the end of the frenzy.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. I did finish my short story for tomorrow. I did get an A on a paper that I wrote while terribly ill. And I did watch a pretty good episode of Castle.

Okay. So life could be worse.
readingredhead: (Default)
Do you ever have those moments when you're sitting there and suddenly wonder, why this? What's the point of being in this moment?

I just had one of those. I'm working on my Wordsworth paper, and wondering -- why this? Why me? Why now? From an ojbective outside perspective, the fact that I'm working this hard to create a coherent paper about subjects that don't entirely interest me as much as they should (and would interest me a lot more if I weren't sick) is almost sickly amusing. What am I doing this for?

But then I think about something one of my professors just said, albeit in completely different context: "When you've lived with this as long as I have, you have to believe that it matters."

And as much as I wish I could just turn in the phlegm-coated, snot-nosed, vomit-inducing mass that is my paper at present, I have these annoying things called "standards" that will not allow me to do so. My professors should really consider themselves lucky they never have to read intermediate drafts.


readingredhead: (Default)

March 2013

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