Friday, October 21, 2011

Let's get deep (into some literary research)

I wrote a rather extensive and long-winded email to the poor woman I selected to be my Masters Thesis Director. I already feel bad for her because she has no idea how insanely OCD I get about my research papers and how much of a crazy perfectionist I can be. So after one week of research, here are the ideas I am putting out there to help me guide my topic development from here:

I did a lot of reading this week mainly looking to secure what my primary text or texts will be. I've got some ideas that I'd like to run by you. I would have liked to get more done but had a stomach flu for a couple of days making me sleep through a lot of planned studying times.

I haven't read any of these texts from start to finish but am just trying to think about where I want to focus.

Mrs Dalloway . I began reading this mostly because its one of Virginia Woolf's most famous and often read novels. While there are a lot of ideas that come to me, I feel like I'd rather not focus on this text because it is so well known and so many scholars have written about it. Some of the good ideas or themes that I picked up on were issues of marriage, conversations between the genders with emphasis on how Woolf shifts points of view to see how men and women talk/view one another, and a lot of themes involving domestic homes and how women occupy their time (giving parties and so forth).

Although I don't think Mrs Dalloway will be my primary text, I do plan to read it through since it is well know in Woolf criticism and may bring some interesting perspective to whatever I eventually focus on.

Night and Day. Similar to the themes I found in Mrs Dalloway, I like the interesting way that Woolf handles conversations between men and women and the way she shifts narration to view these things. There is also great emphasis on time and the time of day appears to affect the mood of the characters and scene she is leading the reader through. There are also themes dealing with women's 'work' and stereotypes about how they occupy their 'time'. I think I would like to focus on Night and Day as a primary text. I am not sure if this would be a good text to compare and contrast with another Woolf novel or any short stories. I guess I need to keep reading to determine that.

I was also considering some ideas for a comparative thesis with another modernist author. I thought that Jacob's Room and A Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man may have a lot of similar and different themes. It has been a while since I have read either text but the idea occurred to me and I thought it was worth mentioning. Obviously Joyce is Irish and Woolf is British but there could be similar themes since both texts deal with a male lead character and probably a lot of reoccurring themes of time etc.

But adding James Joyce to my studies would only complicate my thesis research since I know he is a difficult author to study and read (though you could argue all Modernists are).

I started to read both Between the Acts and To the Lighthouse. I did not get very far into either but had noticed a few interesting things. Both seem to be different because they are taken outside of the city and written in more country settings. The characters also seem very different from the characters in her other novels that are located in London and a more urban, city setting.

Another thought that crossed my mind but I have not followed up on and did readings for was that Woolf wrote a set of short stories including at least one that is a ghost story. This immediately brought to mind Edith Wharton's short stories since I have done a paper on Wharton's ghost stories in the past. Whether doing research on those is a good idea, I am not sure. I know Wharton was an American author and was around the same time period as Woolf (Wharton was born about two decades before Woolf and died about 10 years before Woolf).

Okay, there are a lot of ideas here but I am more comfortable with a surplus of ideas than a shortage of them. I hate to be so long winded through email but writing out my ideas is helping a lot and is already giving me direction for what I will read over the weekend. Any feedback you can provide will be appreciated and very helpful.

Thank you so much for being the wall my ideas are bouncing off of!

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