Intellectual overload

No writing today, but my brain is really cooking with new input and ideas. After leading a seminar on Dag Solstad‘s 16.07.41 this morning I threw myself into a taxi and high tailed it up to Lysebu Conference Center way up above the city of Oslo  to attend a lecture by Solstad himself on the earlier novel, Professor Andersens natt. The lecture was fascinating, if provoking in some ways, the lunch was great, and I got a good opportunity to chat with Solstad himself on the walk down to the subway and on the half-hour ride back into the city center, thanks in large part to my wonderfully collegial co-workers who introduced me and helped ease me into the conversation. It was great fun to be able to ask one of the questions that my MA students and I had been pondering only a couple of hours before, and get a definitive answer. He’s charming, but surprisingly conservative in his views on the role of the author. Definitely not a poststructuralist!

In terms of the “reanimating Ibsen” article, I finally hit a lode in one of the articles I had ordered through interlibrary loan:

Kersten, Dennis. “Life after the Death of the Author: The Adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson in Contemporary Biographical Fiction.” “Hello, I Say, It’s Me”. Contemporary Reconstructions of Self and Subjectivity. Eds. Jan D. Kucharzweski, Stefanie Schäfer and Lutz Schowalter. Trier: WVT, 2010. 191-207.

This was super helpful to me–Kersten moves in the direction of what I’m trying to do by stating that contemporary biographical fiction is an extension of literary theory, but he doesn’t link it in any direct way to questions of reception. What’s more, he lists some really promising major studies on the phenomenon that I haven’t seen in the other literature I’ve been reading. Clearly I’ve been on the periphery, and have with this article moved more to the center of where I need to be. Here are a couple of citations I’m going to track down now:

Franssen, Paul and Ton Hoenselaars. The Author as Character: Representing Historical Writers in Western Literature. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickenson UP, 1999.

Lodge, David. The Year of Henry James. London, 2007

Middeke, Martin and Werner Huber. Biofiction: The Rewriting of Romantic Lives in Contemporary Fiction and Drama. Columbia, 1999.

I’ve got these on order.

The other thing that happened today is that  one of my colleagues mentioned having seen a review of my Cora Sandel book in the most recent edition of Edda. I about had a cow, since I’ve been anxious to see the book reviewed since it came out last year at this time. It’s by a colleague  whose judgement I really respect, and who knows Cora Sandel’s work better than almost anyone, so it really matters to me what he thinks. My friend said it was mostly positive, with some constructive critique toward the end. I didn’t have a chance to locate it today, so I’m on pins and needles until I can get ahold of a copy tomorrow.

This much intellectual activity is enough to get my brain overloaded, and there’s still more to report! When I walked into work today I saw a flyer for a literary seminar that I hadn’t heard about yet that will be happening this coming Sunday at Litteraturhuset. It’s on Psychoanalysis and Literature, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, except that I have to lead a seminar on that topic in another class next week. For that reason alone I wanted to go, but then I saw that there are a number of scholars I’d like to become better acquainted with who are participating, and the author Nikolaj Frobenius will be talking about autobiography. Crikey. I totally have to go, especially since I have that article on his Teori og praksis pending publication.

And, finally (I think), I just learned over the weekend of yet another seminar, this time on Ibsen reception, “The Worlding of Ibsen: The Early Years,” which is being hosted by the Ibsen Center. Given that I’m trying to do something with reception studies and Ibsen, this is totally perfect. I’ve managed to get myself in as a member of the audience, for which I’m really grateful. I’ll also have the chance to get to know the new professor II just hired by the Ibsen Center, which will be exciting. I’m very enthusiastic about her work.

Weeks like this one are exactly why I took the risk and gave up my tenured position in the US. I could just never have done the research I’m now able to do were I still in the States. The contacts I have here, the materials available, and the events that take place have had a, dare I say it, revolutionary effect on what I’m able to do. I really feel like I’ve gone through a second Ph.D. program, but that I’ve learned exponentially more. So even though I worry I’ll be out of the field for good once my fellowship runs out, I can’t really regret giving up the security of tenure.


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