66/1030: quick reflection about where I’m at and where to go

Yeah, so I spent about five minutes trying to figure out if this really was post 66, and if I had to post today, since I’m not really a fan of the number, but sometimes you just have to get it over with. And superstition is stupid.

After meeting with my Doktormutter and having the chance to talk about my project again, I realize I am a bit frustrated by the way other people interpret my project and seem to limit it for themselves. Perhaps I’m frustrated, because they are not taking the possibilities seriously that I see. I personally believe that media have and continue to change the away we think about language and literature, and maybe I don’t have to restrict to migration literature. Maybe I completely want to look at contemporary literature. But I do believe that the migration literature does have something unique to say about the relationship between media and migrants, and perhaps that is why people in talk to engage with me on this subtle note that I didn’t even realize myself yet, that migrants and marginalized figures will have a different response to the media. But it just seems to… obvious. But maybe everything is obvious?

On the other hand, I also think these texts can show us something at a deeper level about how literature changes. It changed with the radio age and is now changing with the digital age. Relationships between people, with information, choosing the news we read rather than having the few select forums we used to, allow us to have complete individuality–and yet much more input both supports and challenges the idea that we are able to express our individuality and voices more.

I guess what people are telling me that I didn’t recognize myself is that the project should have something to say outside of the world of literature…AKA, just because I study literature does not mean I have to focus on what the literature says. Rather, I have to be able to make posits about the world the literature came from. I was getting close in my MA thesis, but I didn’t know how to make the claim and how to prove it with the literature. Ultimately, my MA thesis really doesn’t have a thesis, which probably means I shouldn’t have passed. With my dissertation however, I am going to prove my thesis. But first, I still have quite a bit of reading to do.

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

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. 

Lisbeth Salander comes back

Wow, it’s been a very long time since posting to this site, and unfortunately I return with less-than-lofty-reading suggestions.

I mean, I can recommend Kleiner Mann, was nun? by Hans Fallada and Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert by Saša Stanišić -a recent and current reading, but I mostly feel like writing about David Lagerkrantz’s The Girl in the Spider’s WebThere’s something to be said about industrialized countries and their love for crime-fiction; there’s a direct negative correlation  of crime in these countries to the success of novels, movies, and tv that features some handsome someone(s) solving made-up crimes. But observations about the way Germans, US Americans, Brits and Swedes entertain themselves is left for another day.

From CBsays.com

Lagerkrantz’s creation is a continuation of the Millennium Series started by the Swede author Stieg Larsson. Unfortunately, Larsson died in 2004 and couldn’t continue the tale, but Lazerkrantz bravely took up the sword and tried to breathe new life into Mikael Bolmkvist, Lisbeth Salander, and their fellow characters.

The short review:  I was gratified to see Lagerkrantz continue the balance of fact with fiction. Still, he couldn’t do it as skillfully as Larsson. But it was entertaining and I’m glad to see Salander kicking ass as usual.

A longer review for this kind of book isn’t necessary. I continue to wonder if the writing suffered in the original, or because of the translation, but Lagerkrantz is clearly a plot writer, not a journalist or with an eye for fine personable characteristics. However, despite all the bad I could write, Lagerkrantz did successfully continue the tale better than my own imagination could, so that’s a compliment.

I recommend this for Salander/Blomkvist/Office Bubbles fans, but otherwise, there are better ways to spend your time- like watching an eventual film adaptation with Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist or Daniel Craig. This is an instance where I’m willing to bet the movie is better than the book.

writerly, readerly and strategic – practices for getting published

Because I want to save this for my own reviewing, and since I figure readers may appreciate this:

patter

Last week I had to give a very short talk about my top tips for early career publishing. In very abbreviated form, here are the first three things I said about some important scholarly practices that underpin successful writing and publishing.

  • Be writerly. By this I mean to say that you need to think of yourself as a writer. Writing is not an add-on to the “real” academic work of research and teaching. It is the work. Writing is an integral to research and to teaching. Seeing yourself as a writer means:
  1. making time for writing as part of your usual, average work week – that is, seeing writing as an ordinary everyday activity, not something to be squeezed in around the edges of everything else.
  2. setting yourself up for writing. Do it and do it often. Practice. Find the right time. There will be a space and…

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