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What I've Been Up To; Thoughts on Graduate School

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Hello Forumites,

It has been a while since I last communicated with everyone through one of my self-indulgent blog posts. Unfortunately, I don't really have any pressing concerns to spill my heart out about, which leaves that most mundane of blog genres: the update.

Leaving aside my romantic misadventures in recent days, I've enjoyed the experience of meeting lots of new people through my MA cohort. As a Montreal local, I get to play the role of guide quite often, and I enjoy the petty sense of superiority this provides. Moreover, the ratio of women to men leaves with the distinct feeling that humanities departments are probably a great place to pick up chicks, if you don't mind women who will pretentiously pontificate on the subject of rap lyrics. I haven't yet recovered from the experience of having the ironic potential of "Can I Smell Yo' Dick?" explained to me repeatedly by a girl whose thesis involves contemporary Canadian song lyrics (of course she's in a band you've never heard of too).

Anyway, most of my time has been preoccupied by my own fumbling research. I hope to complete my research proposal by Thursday so that it can be read by some professors, who will hopefully write in support of my grant applications. I'm applying for a competitive federal grant worth about 18,000, as with anything involving academia or the government there is quite a lot of bureaucratic nonsense involved with getting the application done. My current proposal is a project on the theatrical origins of the protagonist in Eliza Haywood's early novels, I like to refer to it as "Reading the Actress in the Early novels of Eliza Haywood." I think that's a pretty pithy title. What I'm trying to assess is the relationship between Platonic/Anti-theatrical/Popular discourses about imitation and the role of the actress shape the reception and representation of Haywood's protagonists in Fantomina and The Masqueraders. Basically, what I'm doing is using the feminist interpretations of actresses and masquerade in these early works as a launching pad, but focusing on how prose markets, and the medium itself, forces a change in the representation of "actresses" in prose. Asking the question not so much what do these representations tell us about women in the Eighteenth Century, but what does it tell us about ideas of acting in the period.

My only major work completed so far this semester has been a seminar presentation on Classical male-bonds in the Faerie Queene, and how Renaissance anxieties about classical pederasty manifest themselves when the models of friendship are translated by, and for, a Christian readership. The paper was well received by my professor and the other students, so I was quite happy. I'm currently working on a presentation on Milton that is not really developed, and I'm working on a translation of Bede from an Old English translation of the Latin original.

Oh yes, I've also had my first experience in the role of some kind of educator while grading papers. I found the experience a bit frustrating because students do not follow directions, but I put a lot of extra work (unpaid mind you) into giving detailed advice on how to improve their papers. Coming up in two weeks I'll be participating in a panel discussion on "What You Wish you had Known About Graduate School Before Applying" for the undergraduate student association. It's being organized completely by us MAs for the benefit of the undergrads, so I hope they benefit from it.

I'm still hunting for a supervisor, there are three main candidates I'm interested in working with for various reasons. One is on sabbatical, so I have had not had a chance to meet him. Of the other two, one is certainly more of a specialist in the area I'm working in, but she has the personality of a fence post. The other is a contemporary theatre scholar, but I get along with her a lot better.

Well that's pretty much all that occupies my life lately.



  1. qimissung's Avatar
    It sounds like your having a lot of fun, Pip. You do come up with some interesting theses. I dislike "The Faerie Queen." It seemed like a lot of effort just to satirize the Catholic church. Your paper on the theatrical origins of the actress (?) sounds intriguing.

    I had to laugh at this:

    "I've also had my first experience in the role of some kind of educator while grading papers. I found the experience a bit frustrating because students do not follow directions..."

    but your efforts to help them write better papers is appreciated. It's probably the first time writing a paper really seemed important to them.
  2. Jack of Hearts's Avatar
    Good luck with your grant application.

  3. Virgil's Avatar
    Sounds like it's a very different experience than previous. On the one hand I do miss that sort of college life, but on the other hand there are lots of things I don't miss about it, and you covered both ends in there. Good luck with your studies.
  4. OrphanPip's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of Hearts
    Good luck with your grant application.
    Thank you, I've already sort of changed my topic, I'm now thinking of incorporating some work on Daniel Defoe's Roxana and dropping one of the Haywood novels. I think Defoe has a bit more cache, (plus he was a better writer than Haywood) and considering the relationship between ideas of impersonation/acting in Defoe's prostitute novels will be pretty fruitful.
  5. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Sounds interesting Pip. I always think of the proverbial actress in any "period" novel as the dumb blonde on a similar level as a prostitute.

    I'd like to know if you actually get the grant, and if you do, I won't be surprised. And Pip, I am a fan of this kind of blog. Believe me, there are some who actually enjoy reading about the mundane. I think I missed my called to be a psychologist. May in another life.

    Thanks for sharing, you write an intelligent blog.
    Updated 11-01-2012 at 10:27 PM by Buh4Bee