So in January (January 15, to be precise) I’m giving my first presentation of my MPhil/PhD career. It was supposed to be practice for a conference in February, but my proposal wasn’t accepted. So it’s going to be for Goldsmiths’ English Department’s graduate seminar series, GLITS. This is good because I’ll be presenting to (some of) my friends, and it will be a more comfortable environment. I spend most Thursday nights (when I attend the GLITS seminars) rambling at most of these people about my research problems anyway, so it’ll just be a more protracted version of that, with a formalised question-and-answer session afterwards during which I can steal some of their suggestions.
I was a bit disappointed not to get into the conference I’d applied to, and I have to be more pro-active about searching for these. (Possible post in the next few weeks: New Year’s Academic Resolutions?) However, the presentation will still be useful, and perhaps more so with the freedom I now have. As this blog is evidence to, I’ve been getting lots of ideas for how to develop the theory of my approach to McSweeney’s, and I’m going to use the paper to test out several methodological approaches. I’ve mentioned this in a previous entry.
My premise 1: the reading experience of McSweeney’s is fragmented; this makes it problematic to discuss in literary criticism.
My premise 2: multiple approaches, different ways of describing the reading context of McSweeney’s will replicate the reading experience (in an inevitably incomplete fashion, though this does not compromise the representation, as aren’t all representations incomplete? total representation being impossible?).
There are several aspects to this, and also several ways in which this could be challenged. My approaches are not going to accommodate all of these, and it will inevitably involve some compromise. But it’s whether or not my (overarching) method will give enough to outweight these.
One of the important (and sort of dull) things to clear up right away is the aesthetic basis of this, whether I’m approaching from a literary or cultural studies perspective. What is a text? What is the artefact? These problems seem at once insurmountable and insignificant, as I balance whether I should give in to accepting the fact that readers intuit these issues, rather than articulate them. This is what the presentation will help with, pushing these ideas at an audience and seeing if the problems seem genuine problems. In talking to a Deleuzian friend I’ve convinced her that these issues are at the very least worth discussing, but not whether McSweeney’s is a viable medium for doing so (yet).
Am playing about with Keynote and some mindmapping software to see how I can visualise my problem, and help explore the issues that I have in a way that makes sense to other academics, which is pretty much the aim of a PhD, isn’t it?