February 20, 2005

Museum ekphrasis

Today's not a good day on the ego. Fresh off the Digital Dissertation press: Museum mediations: Reframing ekphrasis in contemporary American poetry Barbara K Fisher out of NYU. Do you ever have one of those days where you'd just like everyone in your discipline to do a kind of "roll call"? Alrighty... everyone working on ekphrasis in the 20th century, please stand up and be counted. Oh, and by the way, would you like to get coffee and chat, because that community would be really valuable right now?

Posted by c_jane at February 20, 2005 2:25 PM | TrackBack

Ai-ya. If it makes you feel any better the *exact* same thing happened to me. I explained my diss as I had been working on it to a friend I hadn't seen in ages and she said, "Uh, I really think you need to read so-and-so's dissertation." Someone working at a university outside the US. And when I got a hold of it it contained two chapters that were my dissertation in a nutshell. Whaaaaaaa! I was too upset. A phone book would have been nice. ;)

Posted by: f&w at February 21, 2005 7:10 PM |

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I can't vouch for the social sciences or the hard sciences, but I just don't think this sort of thing really happens in the humanities. No two projects are going to be so alike in topic AND approach AND style AND emphasis AND influence AND argument AND example that one makes the other redundant. There are certain specializations like descriptive or analytical bibliography where there may be exceptions, but the vast majority of humanities dissertations are all but immune from being "scooped." Much more important is the sociology of the profession itself--learning how to market your ideas and make your work visible, meeting people, participating in the high level conversation in your chosen field. Your own work will change and grow in ways you don't even know yet.

Posted by: Matt K. at February 21, 2005 7:29 PM |

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You're absolutely right, Matt. What I should focus on is the fact that the more people interested in ekphrasis, the sister arts, ut pictura poesis, etc... the larger community there is to share and to discuss my ideas with. That is, of course, the rational way to look at it.

Posted by: cj at February 21, 2005 10:41 PM |

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This is eventually what happened with my dissertation as well (which is in the humanities)- reading this other person's work made me just think more deeply about what I wanted to do- and how what I was doing was actually very different from what she was doing. We covered the same topic, but reading the end products you'd never know it.

But the moment of reading what felt like my idea in someone else's finished dissertation caused pure panic for about a month.

Posted by: f&w at February 22, 2005 10:48 PM |

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That's a good point. I think part of it is that I've taken so long for my ideas to percolate that seeing someone with a finished product was a bit overwhelming.

Posted by: cj at February 23, 2005 5:55 AM |

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