245/1030: some narrative technique 

My main goal for this week is to begin drafting something, produce actual writing for the dissertation (and I’m kind of motivated because I’m going to need a 10 page sample for a workshop June 1), but in the meantime I’m still bogged down by old notes. 

Oh well. These notes are useful, because looking at what Bakhtin may mean with dialogism and what this discourse looks like prompted me to look up narrative technique. I’ve meant to do that for a while anyway, since the Germans are really into describing literature with narratology terms. 

In Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus (which I haven’t read yet, but I’m going to sound like I have), Bakhtin’s heteroglossia and dialogism  are presented as a kind of free-indirect discourse, which is one kind of representation of consciousness in writing. Free-indirect discourse is a mix between psychonarration and interior monologue where we have a dual voice of the narrator and the character whose thoughts are represented sometimes as relayed by the narrator and sometimes by his/her own “voice.” One could say that the mindstyle is replicated, even if the language is not always replicated. 

Ideas of replication and representation are worth challenging as they come up, but that’s the general idea. 

By having a solid understanding of what dialogism may look like in literature (there’s a lot of it in Modernist works in general  and Virginia Woolf in particular) I may be able to identify it more clearly in contemporary works and talk about it more clearly. 

I should probably write more than that, but I think I just od’ed on coffee. 

As a sort of non-sequitur: My Dr.. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde post from over a year ago, which wasn’t even a real good essay, keeps getting looked at by readers. Maybe I should try and write more essays about famous works? Or not. I mean, I don’t really have time for that, but it would be interesting to begin applying relevant theory to popular works of literature. 

241/1030: Theories of the Novel and some reflection

I’ve lost some steam again in posting here everyday, but I’m still somehow working at least 4/7 days for a PhD, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. 

Having an office space to go to has been motivating, since I always go with at least 3 hours to work there and can’t leave unless I’ve gotten done my mini goal for the day, though I don’t think I’ll meet my main goal for this week: I want to actually get to drafting something. Instead, I’m still slogging through all the material I’ve collected, and keep getting distracted by other texts connected to what I’m currently trying to read, and I am lucky when I write something in my notes that finds a cohesion between ideas that can be used for my diss. So far, it’s just a lot of fragements, as the menu on the left of the image may demonstrate. Still, yesterday I figured out a possible organization by starting with the focus on the subject/individual in literature, and then moving to the novel, and then moving to Bakhtin. 


I wish I had more of these breakthroughs. 

Part of the problem is that it takes a huge chunk of uninterrupted time to get to some breakthroughs. For example, yesterday I finally (after paperwork, helping someone, chores, errands, workout) made it to the office by 1500. My soft goal was 3 hours, but I found myself finishing the last of annotations for my 2014/15 notes and didn’t want to leave before I’d done that. Of course, the first 1.5 hours, I was looking for distraction in my emails and WordPress, so had I been more efficient with my time, I may have left at 1800. Still, after spending 2 solid hours actually working with my notes is when I was able to make the connection I did above. This pattern is usual for me, and I know this is my writing habit, but I can’t wait to devote all my time to PhD work rather than half the day (when I’m lucky) as I am now. October 2017 is going to be awesome. 

In other news, as far as theories of the novel are concerned, I was surprised to see that Georg Lukács, whose “The Ideology of Modernism” I reread for today, was also interested in the Novel as a genre and form, and that Bakhtin may have actually been informed by Lucács in his own writings about the novel. Galin Tihanow in The Master and the Slave: Lucács, Bakhtin, and the Ideas of their Time (2000) provides a pretty good overview of how this happened. Noticing this connection made me look at Tihanov and read his introduction, and while there are some useful notes about Bakhtin here, and I may refer back to the book, I don’t actually need it now, and that’s the source of some of my problems in productivity right now.

That being said, Tihanov’s emphasis that Bakhtin had an “‘unreserved trust’ in the unity of tradition” (9) isn’t totally useless. It serves as a good reminder of how to approach Bakhtin despite the tendancy of post-colonial critics or deconstructionist. Bakhtin inherited structuralism and Russian Formalism very well, and while his theories disprove many of these ideas, they are in fact meant to support the building they break down. 

Furthermore, and of even more significance for this blog given the title I gave it, “For both Lucács and Bakhtin, the novel became the pinnacle of their efforts to problematize the connections between culture and society” and in their work, “the genre of the novel is a site of intersecting literacy and philosophical analysis which strives to understand modernity and to respond to it” (7). This is not news to me, since I am very familiar with Bakhtin’s theory of heteroglossia, which I understand as a symptom of modernity, but it’s nice to find other scholars who say it better than I can. 

I guess that’s all for today. No idea how coherent it was this time around, but thanks for reading! 

Work Cited: Tihanov, Galin. The Master and the Slave: Lucács, Bakhtin, and the Ideas of their Time. Oxford: Clarendon P, 2000. Web 

226/1030: Update in work and life 

I’ve been following a blogger (maybe I’ll remember to link him here at a later date) who recently has been posting daily updates of what he accomplished with his dissertation each day. It really is a log of his work in a way that seems more productive than trying to produced polished (barely, if at all) posts each time. I’m probably going to do a mix of what I’ve been doing and what he does.

This new style of logging may become especially productive given the fact that I’ve recently been forced to rent a desk due to a shifting home situation and actually have to commute to work on my dissertation now, which somehow motivates me to get stuff done again. I’ve relocated the stack of articles and notes that have been gathering dust on my desk in the apartment to my new desk. Along with a binder where I’ve already started sorting, a new binder, a hole-puncher (two-hole, as the Germans do), a remote keyboard and my motivation, coffee, tea, and milk, the items I’ve brought have yielded a few hours of work and some organization of old material.

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While I have a serious problem to tackle with the large amount of stuff I’ve read and haven’t annotated or organized properly (and the task seems very daunting), I somehow manage to just keep adding new material. But I think if I can have the discipline to start annotating and organizing those right away, I may slowly see a way through the morass.

Most recently, I attended a conference about discourse in public places and the search for resonance, and I selectively attended the one presentation where Bakhtin, my favorite Russian theorist, was the focal point along with Yoko Tawada, Habermas, and a few others. The main takeaway from that session was that a) Tawada would be a productive author to look at for “voice,” b) the difference between voice and Bakhtin’s “utterance” may be found in the body/language discussion, and I’m a Bakhtin pro, or at least more than the academic laymen (this is not to be confused with actually being an expert- I just know more than the basic understanding of his theories, if there even is such a thing). This realization of my position in the academic world is further validated by acceptance into a prestigious research school and the award of a scholarship.

That’s right, the biggest news for my dissertation work is that I’m soon going to be paid more for working on my dissertation than I got paid working a part-time “real” job. Not only do I have 20 hours more a week to work on my diss, but I have more resources with which to do the work (and party afterwards). Work hard, play hard. Life is pretty sweet.

While I am writing this on day 227, I plan to post somehting else today as well, so it’s filling in for the 226th day that I missed .

191/1030: Subjectless Productivity

Yesterday (or rather the day before the day before yesterday), I left off mentioning the “intertextuality debate,” and summarized it as a debate between text as medium and media as universal communication force. Irina Rajewsky points out that there is a third position one can take that mediates between these two, but that it inevitably continues to frame the subject as the defining force. It is a reception oriented force that “saves Kristeva’s concept” (50) (i.e. continues to allow for a broader, universal conception of media), but again means that there are as many different ways to interpret intermediality as there are people. So, based on this general frame, we return again and again to the fact that it is an umbrella term and very difficult to talk about intermediality without being specific… and when we get close to specificity, we are too subjective. This point Rajewsky drives home over and over, but then she brings up a classification system that I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. She finds example of the different categories of intermediality as models of how this syste, can be used. 

Still, she does bring up Wolf and Mecke and Rollof who also find ways to categorize the broad concept and allow us to be be productively subjectless.

For example, Mecke and Roloff point out in their foreword that there are three ways to focus on intermediality: the aesthetics, the technical historical, and from a position of discourses analysis. All three are methods that have a distinct literary canon and mode of examination. Of course, I focus on the last one, and bring up discourse theoretics and concepts that can be traced back to rhetoric and discourse theory across several fields. This is what allows me t make the connection to Bakhtin, and while I recently gave credit to Mecke and Roloff for identifying Bakhtin as a basis for looking at intermediality, it seems the credit goes to Rolf Kloepfer and his essay “Intertextualität und Intermedialität oder die Rückkehr zum dialogischem Prinzip. Bachtins Theoreme als Grundlage für Literatur- und Filmtheorie.” 

Also of note is how Jürgen Müller in “Je suits une légende”- argues that the author is an intermediality figure “par excellence” who is manifested in the discourse between texts and not necessarily in the text itself. This becomes interesting in light of Bakhtin’s concept of authoritative discourse. 

Mecke and Roloff also divide their discussion into filmed literature, literary films, and filmy literatures (all three are translated from the German concepts, more clear in the last one). From these distinctions it should become clear that I focus on filmy literatures. 

By the end of this though, I’m not sure if I’m not just bringing in my own subjectivity again, and if there can be such a thing as subjectless-productivity.  

Works Cited: Kloepfer, Rolf. Intertextualität und Intermedialität oder die Rückkehr zum dialogischem Prinzip. Bachtins Theoreme als Grundlage für Literatur- d Filmtheorie.” In Kino-/(Ro)Mania. Jochen Mecke and Volker Roloff, eds. 1st ed. Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 1999. 23-46. Print.

Rajewsky, Irina O. Intermedialität. Tübingen: UTB, Stuttgart, 2002. Print.

189/1030: returning to Rajewsky, the intermediality debate

I blame my failure to post anything at all in the month of February on the shortness of the month. I could have sworn I at least started a few drafts that month, but I guess it was imagined. I did do a decent amount of annotating though, and sorta kinda finally finished two books I’ve been holding on to since November.

So, almost 200 days in and all I have to show for it are about 70 pages of superficial, disjointed musings. From my MA thesis, I know producing material is easy for me. It’s the quality and the organization that really take the work I haven’t been putting into my dissertation. However, in light of a new uplift in spirits and a new goal for myself: draft for intro by start of April, as well as Spring Break that relieves me of other responsibilities, I’m setting out for five posts this week.

I had a few epiphanies in February, not all of them good. One of them involved taking a connection/conclusion I’d made all for myself and realizing that someone else had already done so: Jochen Mecke and Volker Roloff in Filmische Literatur und literarisierter Film” to be exact. This realization involves making the link from intertextuality to intermediality, but using Kristeva’s theses on intertextuality, which drew from Bakhtin’s dialogism, as a launching point. Therefore, I proved to myself that my research is apt and ideas credible, but I need to dig deeper to find the unexplored territory. But first, a few notes on what Rajewsky proposes as the intertextuality debate (48-58).

This debate centers on the extent to which we expand the term. One, favored by the postructuralists and deconstructionists, restricts the ideas to those dealing with the text and and how textual functions affect the text as a whole. The other, favored by cultural semiotics like myself, if I may dare say so, metaphorically extends the concept to many other aspects of thinking and life. This other stance opens up nicely for intermediality, but then the issue appears that seems to challenge many who deal with intermediality: where can we stop talking about media, if everything is media? And if everything is media and can be talked about in the same way, what’s the point in talking about it?

However, while I acknowledge that argument, I do still believe there is sense in talking about the way these overlaps occur. Especially in light of overlapping ideas of culture and nations, it makes sense to help explain where the boundaries still occur, because this may open up more room for people who think categorically (which is all of us) to become more tolerant.

That’s it for now. more to follow tomorrow (for realsies, this time).

Work Cited: Rajewsky, Irina O. Intermedialität. Tübingen: UTB, Stuttgart, 2002. 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 2017 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.

 

60/1030: Bakhtin’s Chronotope

So, I did manage to come back just in time for the first half-century post, and then only saved the draft and now am already into the second month of supposed writing. I’ve been off the radar for a few weeks because I was busy submitting a scholarship application that will hopefully allow me to work on nothing but my dissertation. It’s starting to get more and more apparent that I’m missing out on important opportunities to learn about my subject or engage with my peers. I could really use this scholarship!

But excuses aside, a little while ago I presented about M.M. Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope and a week later, I presented by complete project. Even though I had just put together my entire proposal for the third time, I found the prospect of presenting my project daunting and I was worried about the criticism from the professor–the same professor for whom I did the mini presentation about Bakhtin. Granted, the stakes of said mini-presentation were a lot lower and I did not prepare for that as well as I could have. Still, I do know my stuff and need to make sure not to wing it and say something like that Bakhtin was part of the group known as the Russian Formalists.

Let’t start at the beginning: “Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, literary critic, semiotician and scholar who worked on literary theory, ethics, and the philosophy of language” (Wikipedia, what else?). Primarily, however, Bakhtin saw himself as a philosopher. While he did not formally belong to the group of Russian literary theorists and linguists known as the Russian Formalists (who came earlier than his Bakhtinian Circle), his theories are based on some of the same principles, such as the disctinction between syuzhet and fabula. The Russian Formalists made this distinction because it allowed them to set up a categorization for what is “art” and what is not “art.” Fabula is chronology as we usually understand it- it is the sequence of events in a story. Syuzhet is oposed to this idea by being unbound by chronology. It is events that can be out of chronological order and mark the plot of the text.

Keeping this distinction of time in mind, one can begin to access Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope.

The term “chronotope” is not new. In fact, the ancient Greeks conjectured about concepts of space and temporal versus physical space and how one moves through these dimensions. Time as a fourth dimension was invented a long time ago. It’s the matter of how we talk about time that has changed- or how it is represented in language.

Now, there’s a lot more to write about the chronotope. Bakhtin wrote more than 150 pages about it. However, the main takeaway for me and thinking and writing about my topic is that the ratio of space to time representation and how this balances with character representation can be used to almost “objectively” declare a certain genre of writing.

The chronotope in literature has an intrinsic generic significance. It can even be said that it is precisely the chronotope that defines genre and generic distinctions, for in literature the primary category in the chronotope is time. The chronotope as a formally constitutive category determines to a significant degree the image of man in literature as well. The image of man is always intrinsically chronotopic. (The Dialogic Imagination 84)

However, I think what interests me more is the way that the chronotope is described.

 In the literary artistic chronotope, spatial and temporal indicators are fused into one carefully thought-out, concrete whole. Time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible; likewise, space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history. This intersection of axes and fusion of indicators characterizes the artistic chronotope. (The Dialogic Imagination 84)

Bakhtin studies different literary texts and describes how the time, as it is described, almost seems to earn a physical presence. It gains a bodied form through words and that prospect fascinates me, since I am interested in the language of the body and of pain anyway, especially in relation to Olga Grjasnova’s novels. The fact that this kind of language is possible when referring to an abstract raises the hope that a similar kind of language can exist with culture and emotional connections to ideas of nation and culture.

I have to flesh out those ideas more soon, but over all a good takeaway from Bakhtin is that he is very away of the significance of poetic language and does some great work examining it.

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.

Looking forward, I hope to resume posting regularly to this blog site, even it is is just to feel productive on my work and produce some related writing everyday. Plus,I think the categorization and labeling of my individual streams of research will make this a good cataloging tool for my ideas. I am still thinking about making it private, though.

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.