Thursday, September 30, 2010

Still here!

Struggling through last dozen composition papers and a set of World Lit quizzes... reading Irish Sketchbook a bit at night... at least I'll be caught up and my weekend can be dedicated to work! A colleague reminds me that this is always the hardest part of the semester, here's to hoping!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Want everyone, especially Liana, to know I haven't lost sight of the goal; wading through 60+ composition papers this weekend, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moving on up!

Susan, you have been working so hard the past week; I am so proud of you! How did you get through three books in an afternoon??? But seriously, keep up the good work; even though I don't post everyday, I read your posts and keep up with your activity.

I like what you've been doing: re-reading the fiction and re-visiting your notes. I hope to get to work on that soon. My task is to finish Langston Hughes's autobiography after I'm done with grading this week (seriously, I won't let it go past Sunday!). I started reading it while I was working on the rough draft of Chapter 1, but I didn't finish it before I gave birth. It's been on the back burner ever since the spring semester ended. I'll have to put down Franzen's Freedom so I can finish this in record time.

The Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship's deadline is November 10th, and I want to apply, so I'm going to use that to motivate me to complete the draft of Chapter 1. Last time I applied I didn't get anywhere, but I'd like to think this time I have a better idea of my project and where it's going. Let's see how it goes!

Read: James N. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora (Part 2)

So I finally finished Gregory's essay on Tuesday. I'm amazed at how long it took me, considering that it was interesting, engaging, and accessible. It was certainly a time management issue, especially because at night I don't have the energy to keep on reading and working after Baby is asleep. Time management is something I need to work on, but at least I am doing something--that's what I tell myself!

Gregory's article pointed me toward several new authors and texts I need to check out, so it has turned out to be very useful. But more so than that, i see Gregory's contribution to my work as such: he complicates the concept of "black metropolises" to include a more optimistic, dynamic view of urban space. Whereas Richard Wright, just to give you an example, portrays Chicago as a dismal, hopeless place, Gregory invites us to see how these black metropolises were the location of change and growth for black communities (in the North as well as the South). He also connects northern and southern cities by showing how the social and cultural changes in the North affected (and in turn were affected by) southern cities.

All in all, Gregory gets an A in my book. I need to read his intro and Chapter 1 to learn more about his use of the term "diaspora," especially since he's the first person I've heard refer to black migration to northern cities as "diaspora" (this term is often used to describe the migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S., which leads me to think there's something going on here.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Productivity & Nietzsche!

Was shocked and elated with how well Nietzsche went over in class today! We briefly touched on Formalists vs. New Historicists, which also was well-received! Yay!

It's 3:30, so far I've read through all my notes for my first field exam and highlighted the gems.  Also, just finished typing up key passages from McCauliffe and Great Hoggarty Diamond.  I find that when I sit down to write, having approximately 10-30 passages per works serves as A) a great refresher of its key points and B) a great way to simply cut and paste that brilliant passage you want to use!

Tonight I'll keep reading through the ancient library copy of The Irish Sketchbook until my new one arrives.  Also ordered a more recent edition of Barry Lyndon that's not falling apart.  Rereading these works has been immensely helpful! At first I thought it was a time waster, but rereading them in tandem with the criticism has been magical! Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stolen Day

Work stole the day today, particularly grading nearly 100 quizzes and tackling how I'm going to properly introduce Dostoevsky and Neitzsche in class this week... Reread the intro the Barry Lyndon, eagerly awaiting new copy of Irish Sketchbook in the mail! Miss you Lee, how are things on your side?? xoxox

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reading at the Gardens

Drug Craig to Chanticleer Gardens today.  It's free for us with our Radnor Library cards!

 So we copped a spot under some lovely pines, overlooking the main garden, and I read:

What the Best Teachers Do (a book assigned by work) and finished (well, got what I could out of!) the article:

Kenneth L. Brewer's "Colonial Discourse and William Makepeace Thackeray's Irish Sketchbook."

Like McAuliffe, he recognizes the danger of simply reading it "Thackeray's a crazy bigot," but instead of focusing in on the narrator, he takes a more postcolonial approach (sprinkling Said and Bhaba throughout), nothing how  we "must look at how stereotype functions in colonial discourse, following a method which is not evaluative but descriptive" (264), asserting that we can learn just as much from British perceptions as we can from his interpretations and commentary on the Irish.  Furthermore, he notes that both Thackeray's personal letters and the Sketchbook note that three months of travel cannot provide one with a full understanding of a culture.

Also finished his novella, The Great Hoggarty Diamond.  Never realized the narrator is Samuel Titmarsh, supposedly his typical pseudonym's, Michelangelo Titmarsh's, cousin!  Also, Mr. Dueceace pops up, as he does in most novels.  I realize such reappearances of minor characters adds to Thackeray's panoramic fictional world. 

Left Barry Lyndon a work and had to order a THIRD copy of the Sketchbook as my wonderfully marked up copy, published around 1900 is falling apart and I left my newer copy at the uninhabited family cottage. Grrr.... Looks like another article for tonight...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

McAuliffe's "Taking the Sting out of the Irish Sketchbook"

McAuliffe, John.  "Taking the Sting out of the Traveller's Tale: Thackeray's Irish Sketchbook." Irish Studies Review. Vol. 9, No. 1, 2001.

I just reread (after a year or so) McAuliffe's "Sting" and find it just as astute.  Critics continually damn Thackeray and the Sketchbook as a colonialist text, racially profiling both nineteenth century Irish and Catholics.  But as McAuliffe points out, it was written under Thackeray's pseudonym, "Michelangelo Titmarsh," and the book mocks its tenderfoot, gourmand Cockney narrator as much as any Irish character, and we must remember we're seeing Ireland through the narrator's eyes.  Everyone is so quick to assume the speaker is Thackeray as the book is typically cataloged under travel writing, but it's as satirical as most of his other fictions.

Trying to feed on Liana's optimism! I'm on Chapter One and the task seems monumental, especially with 50hour work weeks; but if she can be a mommy, teach, and do this, I'll keep it up on my end. Miss you girlfriend!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Read: James N. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora (Part 1)

Gregory, James N. "The Black Metropolis." The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America. Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina P, 2005.

This is the first piece I have read for my dissertation since before I gave birth. Boy, it's been a while! But I'm glad I started out with this one, because it made me feel good about my project again. It has helped me remember some things and think through some others. I'm only halfway through it, but right now I feel it's more of a historical/sociological resource. He is asking readers to reconsider the term "black metropolis" (coined pre-World War II) by steering it away from its negative connotations toward more positive, productive connotations.

So that's what I have until now. I hope to finish reading it tomorrow; I will keep you posted on my progress!