Blog Is Not Lost
No, I haven't disappeared: it's just been a busy two weeks, is all. I'm back to teaching composition for the first time in a year, and it's both refreshing and frustrating. I have rather enjoyed teaching literature, being able to come in and just say "What is this about? How does it work? Does it even work at all?" and while one can do that with the composition courses, I also have to spend time explaining how they need to construct arguments and sentences: it's teaching two and a half liberal arts at once (dashes of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic), and it's a bit of a drag. On the upside, the classes are smaller and the prep is easier, leaving more time for the insane class schedule I now find myself taking.
I've signed up for two seminars: one on Discourse Analysis and another on the Alliterative Revival. Both should be good, and both should generate material towards my dissertation. My current plan in the DA course is to build a chapter in which I examine (to borrow a Raymond Carver title) what medievalists talk about when they talk about utopia. So far I've got some Le Goff, a few articles in German, Spanish, and Italian, and (for better or worse) Michael Uebel's Ecstatic Transformation: On the Uses of Alterity in the Middle Ages. I'll plough through these and whatever else turns up, and with any luck produce something worthwhile and possibly part of an opening chapter.
The same holds true for the Alliterative Revival. Right now, the dissertation looks to be shaping up into an examination of dream-visions as sources of utopic energy, specifically how the middle ages imagined the city, the other, and the self. The AR paper will likely focus on Pearl, Langland, or something more obscure. In any case, I've had to put aside any plans for popular romance until another project.
Right now, I'm at that stage in a project where I'm excited to find out what's been said, but I'm afraid I'm not going to have anything to say myself. I'm also beginning to get burnt out on doing coursework, as I feel like having to take classes is sapping my ability to do my work. Is that normal for a second-year PhD, do you think?
In completely one-off news, I am now the proud owner of maps which show the world's landmasses as they will look when the oceans rise by 100m. Frankly, I can't wait to sail the Gulf of Louisiana or live on the island of Wales, just south of the Irish archipelago. Despite the loss of just about every major capital of the world—London, Washington, Rio, St. Petersburg, Shanghai, etc.—I can't help but think that these maps also show some hope: new oceans in the deserts, new kinds of politics, perhaps even entire nations cobbled from the seas (shades of China Miéville). Those maps are here, by the way.