Sobriquet 39.9

This weekend has been good for me. I've spent most of the past two days with friends, enjoying myself more than I have in quite some time. What's more, despite spending as much time as I have out and about, I have managed to continue working on my dissertation, having read two rather sizable critical articles since yesterday afternoon.

The big development I would like to mention, however, has next to nothing to do with the criticism I have been reading or the friends with whom I have been spending time. When my supervisor emailed me to confirm that she'd received the copy of my Age of Iron draft that I'd sent her, she suggested that I consider writing my entire dissertation on J.M. Coetzee, rather than merely devoting a large chunk of the multi-author dissertation I had been planning. Now, this makes sense for several reasons: I have written a good deal on the author already; I have published multiple articles on his work and have arranged for a brief interview with him for the journal I edit; his current status as Recent Nobel Laureate will make the potential audience for my work that much larger; and I have spent the better part of a year reading him. Taken together, these factors may make writing the dissertation quicker and could possibly interest potential employers more than my having written the aforementioned multi-author study. Of course, since my training is primarily as an Americanist (English scholars still tend to divide themselves into Americanists and Britishists), writing exclusively about a South African-born, Australian resident's fiction might not be as well-received by employers looking for an American literature specialist. On the other hand, having already published essays on Gaddis, Poe, Kincaid, Vonnegut, and Mailer, among others, I suppose I have shown some potential as an Americanist, which I would hope would prove sufficient for schools looking for am American literature scholar. Although my field examinations (and thus, for all intents and purposes, my professional specializations) are primarily clustered around American literature after 1800, I did take and pass an exam on contemporary global literature, theoretically preparing me to teach international writers like Coetzee. I will have to see how I feel about things after I speak with my adviser.

This new direction, of course, would necessarily change the focus of my dissertation as well, which may or may not be a good thing for me. I have grown rather accustomed to the idea of a comparative study focusing on a variety of responses to a common concern, so I am not certain how I will feel abandoning that original vision. Again, I will have to see. I am, however, not as nervous as one might imagine. Thankfully, I am fortunate to have an incredibly generous, caring human being serving as my adviser, a scholar who has established herself as an academic capable of the highest quality work as well as an administrator with remarkable acumen and knowledge of the job market for folks like myself, so I trust her judgment in academic matters and value her input a great deal. I'll update this development when I have a better idea about what is going on. I still have to see how she responds to the section I wrote on Age of Iron, after all...

Besides that, I'd wanted to write a bit about the articles I have been reading, but I will leave that discussion for another day (perhaps tomorrow?) and get myself to bed before it gets too late.

For tomorrow: Read that last, lingering article on The Master of Petersburg and get some grading done.


minxy said…
If I had any inkling at all about writing a dissertation, I'd chime in with an opinion or advice or something, but I don't, therefore I won't. I will, however, profess my love of contractions and informal writing in a non-academic setting. :)

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