192/1030: “Bye noe”

It’s time to return to books. Not those bound things that are basically articles put together based on some sort of logic filled with words academics put together to gain prestige, position, or both (don’t get me wrong, I want to see my name in one of those things one day). I want to return to reading where I forget the work of the activity itself.  I think I’ve been bogged down in theory for so long, I forgot that I actually love to read and there are so many good stories still waiting to be read. I spent my morning in the library  (sounds so studious, until I write that it’s the first time since December). Then, on my way home, disinterested in most of my normal dinner reads, I picked up one of my books again and got lost in Zadie Smith’s London for an hour or so. Now, I feel much more inspired to provide a close-reading analysis than some more theory review. It’s easier, too…

NW is divided into four intertwined stories with the titles “visitation,” “guest,” “host,” and “crossing.” Each story has subtitles in a different style. Leah Hanwell’s story is in simple numbers. Felix Copper’s short life is divided into segments of a map, “NW6,” “(WI),”  and “NW6,” Natalie Blake is numbers and subject titles, quite correct but also fragmented glimpses that try to account for as much of her as possible. Finally, comes Nathan Bogle and another “visitation.” When Nathalie Blake/Keisha leaves her home, she wanders and we read how she goes up “Willesden Lane to Kilburn High Road,” and then “Shoot up the Green to Fortune Green,” traveling over NW. The way space is used in the novel is interesting and definitely worth a return visit, especially in light of some things I read recently in History, Memory and Migration, but wait, I wasn’t going to go into that, today. And talking about those titles wasn’t important at all to get into right now.

There are a lot of intermedial references in NW. We start off with Leah Hanwell considering a line she hears on the radio, repeating it over and over in her mind, hearing a neighbor talk on the phone, thinking about the gloss on a magazine, and papers falling, causing “World events and property and film and music” to lie in the grass (4). This is the internet age, the characters have computers, email addresses, chat spaces, and yet there’s an old school feel. They still get their news from papers, hear about it from one another via word of mouth…

The section that caught my eye for this blog post was chapter “123. Bye noe.” It consists of a web chat between Leah and Natalie/Keisha (there’s actually no specificity of the name, we only get the last name, so I don’t know if it’s Natalie or Keisha who makes this appearance, though it could be Keisha since she’s always Keisha online). Leah is the one who instigates the conversation, her type is bold and Natalie’s/Keisha’s (I’m going to guess that it’s a mix of both, since there’s Leah’s friend and the lawyer in this conversation) is not bolded. None follows capitalization convention, unless you count the fact that Leah cap locks her words when she’s mad and N/K cap locks the moments that are sarcastic. Finally, as far as the medium itself goes, we get the impression of overlapped generation of text, as each interrupts the other’s sentence throughout.

whats happening to
me too
universe?  (244)

Leah is responding to “cant believe you getting hitched” and N/K is already asking her question.

I notice a few significant things about this conversation.

First of all, it starts with Leah acknowledging her hesitancy to download something, I’m guessing its the program to private message. Both are at work, Leah working from a work computer and N/K probably on her phone. They joke and banter, and then Leah leads into the news she wants to share by asking N/K to locate herself in the time space continuum “free may sixth?” and then, after some silly then serious (self-acknowledgement) on N/K’s part, “lady jesus I am getting married” (243).  Leah is excited to tell her friend how it happened, why, how she’s doing it to please her fiance, her mother, “It’s what people do innit,” N/K is kind of distracted by work, wants to know if this means Leah is pregnant or will get pregnant, and then has a question for Leah that is confusing the first time one reads it, but then makes more sense after returning to it later. The question is never actually stated, Leah just answers it because she “iz mind reader for realz.” Something about having to give up people and “when all else fails: http://www.adultswatchingadults.com” (245).

Side note: if NW was an ebook and the hyperlink actually worked, would visiting the site be part of reading the book? Future hypertext fiction questions, my friends!

At any rate, the reference to the hyperlink is something that leads to a sort of climax for the whole novel, and I find it interesting that this moment is instigated by a web chat. We get the impression that N/K doesn’t answer for a while (and never responds directly to that), and then the conversation is over with “bye noe.” Not being a NW native, or even with the British slang, I had to look up “noe.” It’s basically an awesome, wonderful person. Someone you’re happy to be with/around. I guess that’s a fond sign off for the two of them, but I don’t know why Leah puts her “bye noe” in single quotes…

This is the point where I should get into explaining the significance of the intermedial reference (that is, why did this conversation happen in chat, not real time, and how successful is Smith in creating the impression of a chat room? (for example, the characters chose to capitalize their “I”s or use the single quote for the contraction or use txt spk). But, it’s also the moment where this gets hard and it’s 2240 on a Thursday and I already did some decent amount of work today, so bye.

Thanks for reading.

Work Cited:  Smith, Zadie. NW. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. Print.

 

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34/1030:  “Die Küste des Exils” continued 

Mircea Cărtărescu is a Romanian author who was asked to contribute to a collection of writings about the Black Sea: Odessa Transfer (2009). Several other eastern and middle European and Turkish  writers contributed- anyone who had something to say about the Black Sea coast. The themes of the collection are travel and the unrest that comes with the transgression of borders. “Den literarischen Nachrufen auf das Untergehende und Verlorene lassen wir mit Odessa Transfer die Erzählungen vom Leben am Meer und die Reflexion über Räume der Unruhe folgen” (1).  An important part of these contributions are reflection, this thinking back on this region, despite maybe having different intellectual and cultural ideas of this space.

Of course, I can’t help but think about the text in light of my new knowledge of the existence of an anthropological approach to literature (really, how is this different than cultural studies?), but I will try to focus on what I already know.

“Ovid hatte noch geglaubt, der Mensch verwandle sich ausschließlich unter Einwirkung der Götter. Seit Kajka wissen wir, daß dem nicht so ist.”(Unbekannter osteuropäischer Geschichtslehrer)

Something that struck me about this text, as I already mentioned before, are the intertextual references. Was Kafka mentioned because of this quote, one I found in the epigraph to the next text? Or is he significant as an inner exilist? Someone who felt a stranger in his own land, sort of like the guest at the wedding (96).

The other references, of course to Ovid most of all, are significant. He is the original exilist on the Black Sea. He was the famous exiled Roman, sent to live among the “barbarians.” He experienced the loneliness and displacement of an exile, and as a poet, whose magic was in songs and words (the Euripides Chor makes an appereance, reminding of Nietzsche) and who lost the words.

diese Briefe wurden immer ungehobelter, enthielten immer mehr sarmatische, illyrische und getische Wendungen, bis er gegen Ende eine neue, eine unbekannte Sprache erfunden hatte, die Sprache des Unglücks, in der alle wahren Bücher geschrieben werden. (108-109)

While a hybrid language resulted, one of unhappiness and bad luck, it’s the one Cărtărescu says all true books are written in. This, of course, relates strongly to Bakhtin who would argue the same thing. For him, the novel was the most successful art form, since it allowed all kinds of language to base expressed, common and art. Lyric, or poem, cannot reach this.

Und am Ende schrieb er in der getischen Sprache, hatte er die barbarischen Wörter ins lateinische Versmaß gegossen. Das Gedicht fand Gefallen. Und seitdem galt er unter den Barbaren als Dichter. Das Kauderwelsch der Ein- heimischen erldang in zehntausend Sprachen des Meeres, und Ovid, der Dichter der Liebe, der Schönheitspflege und der Metamorphosen, sah sich gezwungen, sie alle zu lernen. (102)

The language of the sea slowly poured into his writing. And this sea had 10,000 languages. And he had to learn them all. There’s something significant about the water image throughout the text, and the ending line: “Denn nach Mallarmé ‘existiert die Welt nur, um in ein schönes Buch zu münden'” (110). The world only exists so as to flow into a pretty book.

I wonder if there’s a connection here to biosemiotics and therefore to the rising understanding of nature in anthropological studies of literature (or vice versa), but one thing is for sure, this is an extremely productive text for my PhD project.

Work Cited:  Cărtărescu, Mircea. “Die Küste des Exils.” Odessa Transfer Nachrichten vom Schwarzen Meer. Ed. Raabe, Katharina und Monika Sznajderman. Frankfurt am Main: Surkamp, 2009. 93-110. Print.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

13/1030: Finishing up a little more what I started

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so slow about writing up my Transnationalism notes, it’s because I’m trying to figure out what purpose it suits for my dissertation. Of course transnationalism, nationalism, and colonialism are all connected, but I want to explain how one should not think of the three as opposing each other, but developing out of and supplementing each other. For example, colonialism is an extension of nationalism. Nation building and spreading influence lead to colonialism, but spreading interests too far also lead to the weakening of the concept of the nation. In the case of Great Britain in particular, so many countries with people of diverse ethnicities were colonized. British soldiers and officials living abroad had cultural influences that they incorporated into their own British being. Then, after the post-WWII agreement that former British colonists had the right to British citizenship, a host of new ideas of “what does a British citizen look and act like?” challenged the homogeneous WASP identity. In a way, because of this, England is a nation and a transnation at once. On the other hand, those who came to Great Britain still saw themselves as citizens of their home nation and as transnationals in Britain. 

This contributes to post-colonial talk. 

On that note, though, can we start to talk of these literatures as post-national? The more transnational the citizens of a country feel, the less hold nation will have. At the same time, the desire to belong to something, and the practical need to have organized states, keeps the concept of nation alive. 

Parallel to that thought, one can consider cultures and how, even those who buy into a transnational or postnational idea still find themselves tied to a culture in their upbringing. Even conscious movement towards counter culture is a kind of culture. 

But there are still critics who believe in the dissolution of culture. Wolfgang Welsch, for example, looked at cultures and argued that people no longer live within the bounds of what is acceptable within their culture. Rather, they accept cultural  standards, even if they are created by considering multiple different standards across cultural boundaries. 

“‘Transculturalität’ will beides anzeigen: dass wir uns jenseits der klassischen Kulturauffassung befinden; und dass die neuen Kultur-bzw. Lebensformen durch diese alten Formationen wie selbstverständlich hindurchgehen” (in Information Philosophie 2 (1992). 

I definitely understand that culture is no longer determined by traditional markers, and that each person in today’s world, in a way, creates his/her own culture independently of  national, ethnic, religious formations. That’s a little beyond what Welsch writes. However, I also think that what we describe, the disregard for standards, goes against the very things that make up culture and nation. Both are groups that one belongs to by meeting certain requirements. Without meeting these, or by refusing to meet them (Mascha in Birken), there is little to call it a culture or nation by. This is more post nation than trans. 

Now, on that interesting note,  can we begin to talk about our world as one in which post-media is a reality? Because of the huge influence of media on our lives, can one talk of a life without it? And since there is not life without it (argument I’m proposing, I don’t think it’s true), maybe we should try to imagine a world after these new technological changes have made us all media. 

I don’t know, that last idea is a bit out on a limb. But worth exploring (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it).

I wrote all this despite not wanting to an hour ago.

Siehst du? Geht doch. 

Now to reward myself with a movie I’ve been looking forward to for some time: Winter Soldier (I’m not all intellect).

(I wrote this post on Saturday, but didn’t get to post until today).

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality

10/1030: memories and monuments or Transnationalism and Literature 

When I started, this post was fueled by three cups of coffeee; albeit, that last one was decaf. Now, it’s a day and a half later and fueled by my personal drive to write something every day.

I worked really hard in high school… like, 1230 bed 0430 wake up hard, doing loads of homework and spending my days in school trying to make sure I got done from class to class what needed to be done. That’s IB and AP for you. Now, the question comes: was it really worth it? Yeah. Actually it was, because I trained my body and mind for a lifetime of hard work in academia, where there is no such thing as a break or vacation, and the only time I don’t feel guilty about not working is when I’m working. To some, that may sound terrible, but they probably don’t know the immense joy of being rewarded with an answer after working at a problem for so long. They probably also don’t know that those moments of revelation never stop happening.

So, enough of my ode to hard work in high school, let me lay out the plan for the next few days, maybe weeks. I have a lot of notes left over from my last semester of studies that are waiting to be reviewed and filed. Since I’m interested in researching for my PhD, I am going to glean magic moments from my notes that help me think about my thesis and share these with you. That way, I can finally put those notes away and I have some annotations for use in my dissertation.

Today, I’m going to start with my Transnationalism and Literature final.

One of the first uses of the term transnationalism was in 1916 in an essay of the same name by Randolph Bourne. In his essay, Bourne describes the USA as a model of how a country can be influenced by multiple cultures. He also commends the ability of immigrants to preserve ties to their homelands and continue to build constructive lives in the US. In this way, discussions of transnationalism tie in closely with discussion around diaspora, because one of the distinctions between diaspora and other types of migration is the ability of these migrants to collect in the destination country, keep ties as a group to the home country, and preserve values and traditions while integrating into the new country. For this reason, members of Jewish Diaspora are often thought of as the first transnational citizens. It is no coincidence that Olga Grjasnova’s character, Mascha, has Jewish heritage. She is a model transnational (though she rejects that term, too).

In his essay, Bourne also uses an expression “mother land is no one nation” to help emphasize that one country can be home to people with multiple cultures and heritages. Citizenship and socio-cultural belongingness are also not necessarily the same thing. All of contemporary literature seems to explore this, especially post-colonial texts. Brick Lane and White Teeth provide obvious examples, but the German novels I look at challenge national belonging of people, literature, and language. Identity, after all, is only a construct and the traditions of people, while powerful influences, are only practices that have decided to be “okay.”

What is a nation, anyway? Benedict Anderson famously says it’s an “imagined community” where belonging is determined by sharing an idea of culture, language, and physical boundaries. The spread of the nation-state was encouraged by economic and medial developments. The development of communication and transportation helped ideas of unity spread faster. Now, we seem to see the opposite- there are a lot more challenges to belongingness these days. Perhaps globalism, or transnationalism, are now also the result of medial relations? An idea worth exploring.

To some extent, nation can be seen as a positive thing. It can give people a sense of something larger than themselves and make them feel like they are contributing to something great. There were, after all, enough reasons for the German principalities to fight for unity in the 18th century. However, Foucault would seem to warn that determining what is shared, and who is excluded from a nation, can lead to a negative homogenizing that allows a population to be more easily controlled. Protecting this imagine community of sameness from difference often led/leads to violence. Some writers fought against this. For example,  Heinrich Heine wrote stories emphasizing the cultural diversity, translation, and mixing of the German people to show the tremulous roots of nation.

This idea of nation, however, extends beyond the imaginary one controlled by ideas of culture. Foucault seems to be concerned with the physical presentation of nation, which of course involves race and is a huge topic in new English lit in particular. However, beyond race, nation is a concept to which anyone with the cultural connections can claim belonging. We saw this during the Holocaust, before and after this as well, in the writings of people persecuted and exiled. Through exile, these people are made to cross the borders and leave the places of their memories. The physical places are left behind, but the spaces can always be returned to.

If I am looking for transnationalism in literature, multiple languages are a give-away. After all, our literatures are still largely grouped by language, and these languages always linked to a country. Therefore, language changing, code-switching will shake up this clear connection.But that’s too obvious. Hybrid characters, claiming no one identity, will also be transnational. I think it is useful to have a good idea of what transnationalism means when going through my PhD research, because I constantly have to remind myself that I am looking at “German” and “English” literature, and I need to remember what I mean by that. Am I referring specifically to the language in which the literature is written? And does literature ever belong to a nation? I ask that last question especially as someone who is decidely US American, but not looking at US lit. at all.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality. 

 

 

4/1030: narrowing down the questions

A few weeks ago, I set up a revised list of research questions to submit as a part of my application for acceptance as PhD candidate. One of these questions, the one I call my thesis question (since I believe answering it brings me closest to my claim) is:

What power do intermedial references have in literature that allows authors to use them in migration literature to help enunciate the individual voice of a depicted minority character?

I followed this question up with a lot of sub-questions, for example “what is individual voice?” “how authentic is this voice?” and others to help address the follow-ups I anticipate from critics. Apparently, it’s good I challenge my own question, since the follow-up is pretty much what I expected.

I sent my question to my MA thesis sponsor, and he graciously replied with some very helpful suggestions.

First of all, I definitely need to back up my ideas about individual voice with theory. I have Bakhtin (ah, M.M. Bakhtin, how I would have loved to have met you) as my main man. I also have a few Composition and Rhetoric theorist in my armory. As far as the authenticity of this voice, I have Bhabha and Spivak to analyze again.

My mentor, then sponsor, seems to think I should avoid focusing on individual voice and instead focus on the intermedial references. For example

“How and why are intermedial references so common in migration literature?  What meaning(s) do such references contribute and/or elucidate?  How and why is intermediality a significant element of migration literature?

I don’t mind using these as my prime research questions. I even have them as a part of my list of things to do. I was afraid, however, that the question was too broad and leaves open too many answers. I thought I had to already have an idea of the answer in order to propose my project. But perhaps I should allow myself more room for hypotheses. After all, it has crossed my mind that the better answers have to do with crossing borders. The breaking down of linguistic and media borders is conducive to the breaking down of cultural borders. My issue with this claim is that I thought that it was laengst geklaert. I mean, who doesn’t see the breakdown of borders and norms in literature today? And the novel, of course the novel transgresses former expectations; that’s what makes them novel.

I think I’m onto something when I say that intermediality is a significant element because it breaks up secondary discourses and opens up for new kinds of voices. What are these new kinds? I guess I still have to clarify that.

Honestly, whenever I think I’ve figured something out, I manage to get sucked into a whole new sets of challenges and possibilities inherent to my questions.  I fear I may never get anywhere… I’ll keep reading and reading and now have any answers- just more questions.

Maybe it’s time to start doing literature review conscientiously again- find some answers before asking more questions.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality. 

3/1030 : Ice-Skating as Mode of Expression in Brick Lane and ?

Wow. The days are going by quicker than I expected they would. It’s actually kind of freaking me out- good thing I finally started writing! So, yesterday I explored why I am in comparative lit. The day before I introduced what the heck my blog is turning into. Today is the first day I actually produce some content.

I think I’ll write about figure skating.

I recently started reading Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert by Saša Stanišić and while I am still waiting for some sort of intermedial reference, I needed to note the main character’s  observations about his mother  on page 75 of the 6th ed. of the Randomhouse Paperback (2008).

“Wenn ich so alt bin wie meine Mutter, werde ich auch eine Stunde lang ununterbrochen von Sorgen erzaehlen koennen, nur werden es nicht meine eigenen sein. Mutter hatte eigentlich Eiskunstlaeuferin werden  wollen. Jetzt laeuft sie sich in unserem Gericht muede.”

I haven’t read far enough to see if Aleksandar makes more comments about his mother’s once dreams, but I am already surprised by the use of iceskating as some kind of motif. It is definitely a motif in Brick Lane by Monica Ali, and now I’m wondering if I can make a connection.

In Brick Lane, ice-skating appears several times throughout the novel. It mostly appears in connection with a television, and the images on the screen are interjected into the text. Of course, because of this in Brick Lane I can talk about ice-skating in relation with intermedial references, and this choice is rather productive, since major themes throughout the novel are evoked by these instances, for example on page 36 of the 2004 Blackswan Paperback.

The “screen held” Nazneen as she is trying to fold laundry. She see two figures (their descriptions are almost erotic, but in a conservative ‘I can’t believe they’re wearing that in public’ way) and to her, it looks like magic.

Apparently, I talk about all this much better in my MA thesis chapter:

Ice-skating is a form of expression; it is an artistic form of movement in which the female is often considered superior to the male performer in popular consciousness (we see this in ballet as well). The movement across the ice in rhythm and with supreme control of movement is akin to language use in an unpredictable world where one is constantly in danger of transgressing boundaries. The first time Nazneen sees it on the television in her flat, the experience shifts her from her previous state so that she is “no longer a collection of the hopes, random thoughts, petty anxieties and selfish wants that made her” (41). This looks like magic to Nazneen. The word “ice-skating” first appears fairly early in the novel on page 36. Nazneen sees two figures on television and the situation is described as capturing Nazneen as the “screen [holds] her” and she tries to understand what they are doing.  In her “mis-understanding” of the actions of the two ice-skaters, she creates her own understanding. It is one of the first instances in which we see the formation of her individual voice. But then, when she wants to verbalize their act, she has difficulty.

‘What is this called?’ Said Nazneen.
Chanu glanced at the screen. ‘Ice skating,’ he said, in English.
‘Ice e-skating’ said Nazneen.
‘Ice skating,’ said Chanu.
‘Ice e-skaiting.’
‘No, no. No {e}. Ice skating. Try it again.’
Nazneen hesitated( 37).

In this situation, the pronunciation of the word, rather than its role as motif, takes the forefront:

“’Go on!’

Ice es-kating,’ she said, with deliberation.
Chanu smiled. ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a common problem for Bengalis. Two consonants together causes a difficulty. I have conquered this issue after a long time. But you are unlikely to need these words in any case.’
‘I would like to learn some English,’ said Nazneen.
Chanu puffed his cheeks and spat the air out in a fluff. ‘It will come. Don’t worry about it. Where’s the need anyway?’ He looked at this book and Nazneen watched the screen” (37).

Underneath the structural level of the word we see in this passage all the major motives that are returned to throughout the novel: television, words, language, desire, and ice skating. In fact, learning English and ice-skating are usually in close proximity in the novel. When one is mentioned, the other usually appears as well. The final question “Where’s the need anyway?” brought up in this situation introduces the last authoritative discourse Nazneen must assert herself against: that of her husband. As Nazneen slowly moves through other layers of discourse, her relationship to the words “ice skating” and the experience it portrays changes.

The next mention of “ice skating” is when Nazneen sees it in a magazine during one of her moments of inactivity (93). The sexual expression in the action is even more pronounced here in the description of the woman’s thigh: “She felt the rush of wind on her cheeks, and the muscles in her thighs flexing. The ice smelled of limes. The cold air made her flush with warmth from deep down” (93). The succeeding instance highlights even more desire in the language and a bit of stream of consciousness.  Nazneen imagines ice-skating in her dream about Karim, “she moved without weight and there was someone at her side, her hand in another, and through her half-closed lashes she saw him. The fine gold chain around his neck” (220). The connection of ice, limes, and desire is developed into its own discourse by the time Nazneen says about Karim that he “smelled of limes” (449).

Finally, by the end of the novel, the motif is carried through to satisfy the interpretation of the ice-skating rink that Nazneen is brought to by Razia, Shahana and Bibi. Nazneen’s new “way of being” becomes solidified in the image of the ice. Salman Rushdie writes in “Step Across this Line” that “[w]e become the frontiers we cross” (410). This rink serves as a metaphor for Nazneen. It symbolizes all the things Nazneen has gone through and all the ways, and people, she has learned to communicate with without losing touch of who she is and what she wanted. “She looked at the ice and slowly it revealed itself. The criss-cross patterns of a thousand surface scars, the colours that shifted and changed in the lights, the unchanging nature of what lay beneath” (492). True, Nazneen has surface scars from the struggle in the “contact zone,” but she can have desire and multiplicity “colours that shift[…] and change” and still remain the individual she was. What changes is that she learns to express this subjectivity better.

Right. So that was my grad student self working through how ice-skating can be a form of expression. I guess I put a lot of thought into it then, and maybe that’s why it stood out to me that Aleksandar’s mother wanted to become an ice-skater. I can see how it is attractive to Nazneen. I can work with the way Monica Ali uses the motif to help present an authentic individual voice for Nazneen (though how authentic it is needs to still be questioned).

I have no real understanding yet about how it works for Saša Stanišić. I believe, however, that there is a link to be made with the way Aleksandar says he will be able to tell people about worries all day, but that they won’t be his own. He will create the worries or tell those of others. Aleksandar is also a magician in this story, and his ability to create worlds (and worries) is his magic. The links between expression and magic are definitely there, but other than mere proximal-association, I haven’t gotten enough about the mother to understand why it is significant that she wanted to be a figure skater. She’s stuck in a world where she types up reports for men and “runs herself down” in the court offices. Perhaps she, like Nazneen, longs for a freedom of expression that can be found in the physically aesthetic and exhilarating act of skating? I’ve got to finish reading before I can confirm this.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to see I’ve managed three days in a row. I’m surprised how articulate I was in my MA thesis… those months are all a blur for me now.

I need to work on my verbosity though. I could write the things I do with half the text.

What I leave today’s entry with is a more clear idea of the way ice-skating is used by different authors in different contexts. Freedom of expression and creation are in both instances, but the Stanišić version is touched by a little more politics. I also may want to acknowledge that Nazneen is a feminist’s character while I can’t make any assumptions about Stanišić.  I will return to this once I finished reading …Grammofon… 

In the future, I will also want to figure out a way to discuss the connection between the television and this form of expression. I haven’t done that very clearly yet, but I have to if I’m talking about intermedial references. I also want to be able to cite more concrete literary theory. To-do lists are being built. The game is on!

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality. 

Day One, 1029 Days left

Alright, so that number is a tiny bit arbitrary, since I have no clue yet if I can expect to submit the bound dissertation on July 15, 2019. However, assuming I want to apply for my PhD at the end of the lecture-period of the Summer Semester of 2019, that would be the day.

Pat Thomson from patter has a “Starting the PhD” series that I’ve been following since I knew I wanted to earn a PhD- before I was even done with the MA thesis. Now, whenever she posts something, I’m even more interested in her advice. Today, I am going to follow up on her most recent piece (of advice): write and write regularly.

Now, the “Day One” at the top of this post isn’t really true. I’ve actually been working on the PhD in some form for more than a year. Development of the project already started in May 2015 and became more and more supported with research through Fall 2015 and then again in Summer 2016, while I worked to be admitted into a PhD program. Now, however, it’s time to get out of the development stage. I’ve got the abstract, working bibliography, and abstract. I’ve got a working outline and a time-plan. Now it’s time to start writing.

So today is Day One. It’s the day where I commit to one post a day about my PhD research or something strongly related. Today, I will spend more time preparing this series of blogging than actually fulfilling the goals of this objective, but I need to start somewhere and I’m someone who likes to set-up some guidelines of how to go about doing something for herself. Then I will write.

First of all, all my posts will need to be seen with a disclaimer and a copyright.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality. 

With that in mind, I will try to always cite my sources so that I can claim originality with a clear conscience.

Woo. With that rather legal talk out of the way, some guidelines for the content of my posts pretty much follow what patter puts out in her blog post:

writing about something that puzzles [me], writing about how a particular reading relates to [my] topic, responding to a small quotation – writing about what it made [me] think about, exploring a particular possible idea for a research design, developing an argument about an aspect of [my] research – the choice of method for example, writing about why it is a good choice and/or why it might not be, writing about a talk that [I’ve] heard, recording a research related conversation [I’ve] had with a peer, thinking/writing about what [I] might want to talk to [my] supervisor about, experimenting with different writing ‘voices’ and styles, trying out draft paragraphs, introductions, abstracts, writing descriptive pieces, where [I] work on the ways in which [I] might provide rich detail about [my] work, practising how to incorporate dialogue into an argumentative text, writing to learn to craft anecdotes and vignettes.

I think that these suggestions give me a lot of possibilities to fill the next 1000+ days. Because I am doing my PhD under individual sponsorship- no program, I will need as many routines and structures I can build for myself to get through this. From experience, 1000 days seem like a lot, but they really aren’t for a large-scale research project. Deadlines will still arrive too quickly. At the same time, I could probably get most of my writing done in six months. The issue will be to stay committed to writing about the research and the thinking so that I can practice writing and be able to write something in six months.

Savvy? Good.