March 24, 2005


All I have to say about this is... Wow. 97% of Cornell's incoming Ph.D. students are fully funded. Wow. And even the 9 month stipend is $1k better than my institution.


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March 17, 2005


Sympathy. It has rhetorical uses (e.g. Mrs. Jane, could you please excuse my absence, I was so sick that I could barely move my head without feeling as though my entire body would explode from the enormity of the pain..."). The desired effect will be that the person will agree in feeling with the person in need of sympathy. It is a kind of agreement in feeling, bothness, so to speak. It has physiological meaning: the sympathetic nervous system, and sympathy pain.

Sympathy also has a literary heritage. One might call to mind de Stael's novel Corinne, or Italy, perhaps Clarissa, Sense and Sensibility... and later in American literature works such as Uncle Tom's Cabin. Sympathy is deployed differently in each of these works. De Stael's work uses the body of her heroine to project a sympathetic view of Italy and southern Italy for a northern Europe who believed the south to be somewhat renegade. Richardson's conduct novel warned against the dangers of sympathy, and Austen's articulates a particular balance between sentiment and sense. Stowe uses overt sympathy to garner support to build a stronger abolitionist movement. Each of these, though categorized as "sentimental" make rhetorical use of sympathy. I am told, however, that sympathy has other uses in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Any suggestions?

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March 12, 2005

Maxim for the weekend

Slow trigger
Fast bullet

Posted by c_jane at 11:44 AM | TrackBack

Non-specialist audience

Ok.. so I'm back to writing my abstract. The audience this time is a non-specialist audience. One of the most significant hurdles, I'm discovering, is tryhing to boil down all of the ut pictura poesis tradition, the history of ekphrasis, the definition of ekphrasis, and the history of gendered gazing into... well... one paragraph.

I've learned that the word "ekphrasis" presents serious problems to non-specialist readers. They seem to regard it as jargon... but it's not jargon... its just the easiest way to say something that otherwise takes 5 words... and when every word counts, that's a big deal. So, a definition is necessary. It's quite hard to put yourself in the position of the non-specialist (um... obviously) and then try to imagine what needs to be said. So, I'd welcome any reactions. Here is one paragraph... what sounds like jargon to you? Seriously...

First paragraph:
This interdisciplinary study examines the ways women poets in the twentieth century aproach writing poems about the visual arts, a sub-genre of poetry called “ekphrasis.” My dissertation argues that women’s ekphrasis plays out sympathetic relationships between the sister arts and that we require a more precise critical apparatus for interpreting the genre as a whole—one that accounts for amicable, codependent relationships between the arts. Through four studies of poems by women, my dissertation demonstrates how sympathies between the poet and the artwork that is the object of her gaze alter our current understanding of how ekphrasis operates. Furthermore, by uncovering how these poets use the rhetoric of sympathy to engage paintings, I contend that our critical approach to ekphrasis needs to better accommodate reciprocity between the arts and I suggest “empathetic interpretation” as an alternative to current theorizations. My project addresses how women poets identify, resist, and diffuse gendered power struggles in their artistic creation and how readers of these texts can interpret such work.

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March 11, 2005

Fits and spurts

That should really be the title of my blog, frankly. I find that the blog posting doesn't always reflect my writing habits. Lately, I've developed a wicked writing habit. I've been writing constantly... but I've been writing very targeted and very specific stuff for my prospectus, so, I haven't had much time for posting. Now, though, I'm taking a short 10-minute break to write out the things that are "in the way" of writing the stuff that has to get done.

I have had one of those up and down research months. Its what I'm beginning to believe is like unsuccessful intellectual foreplay. You get an idea... you become excited by it and feed the desire, the quest, the curiosity that you feel with feverish writing... everything sounds brilliant to you.... You even let yourself hear it, "This is it! This is my major contribution to scholarship thus far! I'm soooo going to get it!!!"

On this natural high... adrenaline pumping, confidence high... you print it out and pass it along for someone wiser and more respected than you (by you and by your community) to read and comment on. The mentor returns your ecstatic exercise with as much praise as she can find to give, with serious, thoughtful feedback... which... when you look at it you realize actually means... "You're almost there, but the important part... you know... the substance... It's missing." Only, she says it smarter than that... and nicer...

So still clinging to the little bit of hope left that you had for that excited little masterpiece, you return to your safe writing space, and look over the feedback... turning it over, writing out questions, answering your questions... and then it hits you like a load of bricks... Despair. How is there any possible way that you can recover? All that exuberance was probably just folly... and the doubt creeps in.. and the fear... "Am I ever going to get it" "Does anything I think make sense?" Or better yet, "Am I ever going to figure out what I mean?"...

And then the recovery begins: "Hey, I had a good idea there." And you remember, the respected mentor mentioned something about that "Hey, she thought this part was ok..." And you start writing again... Tentatively, sure to choose words carefully... being strict about the kinds of liberties that you take with ideas... and the confidence starts to come back, and the desire... and then...

You guessed it... You're warming yourself up again for another wild ride... "Here's an idea that's going to work!" and "Oh! Yes!! This is what I mean!!! I can see it... I can see what I mean...and I can say it now... I think I'm going to get there this time!"

Please tell me that this isn't going to last the whole length of the project. Someone please tell me that at some point, you feel good about what you're saying and that you can say it until... at last, you can say with confidence... "DONE!"

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