Project Updates

I've begun stabbing blindly at writing toward the Utopian survey project. In the course of this research, however, I turned up last Autumn's issue of the JMEMS, which was Karma Lochrie's special Utopian issue. There are a few good moments in that issue, and in Lochrie's essay especially but I haven't been impressed by the scholarship at all. Indeed, at the risk of being that wide-eyed idiot who dismisses things he doesn't like as "excessively bourgeois," I suspect that a lot of utopian scholarship either doesn't go into the HX sections of college libraries, or does but wanders out in a daze (I'll admit that the latter happens to me quite often, though the Ernst Bloch dazes are especially rhapsodic). In any case, a lot of what I've read so far has been fluffy scholarship, full of ifs and mights and lacking in a lot of common sense. Medievalists also seem keen to grapple with "utopianism-before-Utopia," as if More's libellum nugarum was some sort of foundational text along the lines of Wealth of Nations or Das Kapital. But it's not: it's the culmination of one tradition and the inception of another, less Also Spracht Zarathustra and more Le Morte Darthur. But I'll go into greater detail on this as we move through the semester.

I've done less work on my alliterative revival paper, though I do think I'll shoot for working with Pearl. Thankfully a recent article by Helen Barr, "Pearl—or 'The Jeweller's Tale,'" has explored a lot of the class issues inherent in Pearl; moving from that to "utopian visions for the emergent bourgeoisie" should be a snap. Whether it's a snap of the fingers or a snap of my neck we'll know soon enough.

Meanwhile, I've been served with jury duty sometime between the first of October and the end of December. I wouldn't mind it if it wasn't for the fact that they will not call me until a day or two before they want me, so I get to spend [n<90] days waiting for a phone call that will cause me to panic and reschedule, probably at the last minute and with some degree of pain toward my students.

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