Strategizing

On Friday I did a very minimal amount of clean up on the Byatt article. I should have done much more, but I was on a tight schedule, and had a lot of administrative tasks to take care of at work. I thus ended off handing off a not-quite-finished (“good enough”) draft to my exchange partner. Yesterday I read it through myself, and though I can see lots of little details that need fixing, I was relieved that it works as well as it does.

This morning I just re-read two articles that I assigned to my MA students, and one of them has me jumping with ideas. It’s so odd how the passage of time and small shifts in perspective can change the way you read something. I don’t remember getting anything important out of Doreen Massey’s “A Global Sense of Place” the first time I read it while planning the MA seminar. But this time, after having read Helga Flatland’s first two novels, Bli hvis du kan, reis hvis du må (2010) and Alle vil hjem, ingen vil tilbake (2011), the article was practically flashing in neon before my eyes. Flatland’s novels almost perfectly illustrate what Massey is talking about.

It’s all I can do to contain my urge to start banging out a new article on Flatland (especially after reading this review), but I know I can’t. I have to think tactically in terms of focusing my research efforts on things that will put me in the best possible position for the very few opportunities I will have to apply for a permanent position. As much as I’d love to do it, an article on Flatland would be of no help whatsoever. Instead, what I may do is use Massey’s article in the analysis of Mona Hoel’s film, Når nettene blir lange (2000) that I had planned on using in the cabin book.

It’s been a while since I summed up a short-term “strategic plan” for research here. Here’s what I think I need to do for the rest of the fall term:

  • finish up Byatt article based on WIP-exchange feedback and get it submitted to a level-2 journal that uses MLA formatting
  •  finish up the book review that I started in October
  • revise the Peer Gynt book manuscript based on the feedback I got recently so that it’s ready to submit with the next job application (this manuscript will help demonstrate my expertise in Ibsen studies)
  • revise the analysis of Amtmandens Døttre in chapter 2 of the cabin book based on the feedback I got from a colleague this summer so that I can submit the first two chapters with the next job application (these two chapters will help demonstrate my expertise in 19th century literature)

So for the next month or so it will be all about revising and getting everything I’ve done to date in as good a form as possible.

I think that come January I’ll be totally ready (if not desperate!) to jump back into the cabin book and work on new material. My goal for the spring term will be to have a completed first draft of the entire cabin book by June. Right now, at least, my feeling is that I should start up in January with the last chapter of the book, which will deal with cabins in contemporary literature (and film; hence the Mona Hoel). This is in part because I have spent this fall teaching the MA seminar on contemporary literature, so I’ve got both the period and its specific conceptual problems in my head. It makes sense to take advantage of that. I also think it would be kind of jarring to jump back to the very different issues at stake in the fin-de-siècle, the interwar period, or crime fiction, which are the three other chapters that need to be written.

ETA: I forgot to mention that I was able to pick up a copy of Audrey Linkman’s beautiful book, Photography and Death (Reaktion Press, 2011) on Friday too. It confirms most of what I was trying to say about Victorian mourning practices and attitudes toward death, so it was very useful for the article, and very moving to read.

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