Blog Post

Title to Come: A Post-Introduction

Hello, fellow scholars! I’m yet another one of those rather latently (post-) introducing myself. On a daily basis, I juggle two academic publishing internships, two research/teaching assistant jobs, captaining a debate team, production-directing a student-run publishing house, running an online literary magazine, four classes, an undergraduate thesis, and my own graduate school applications, so my time this semester is quite a bit more limited than I’d like it to be. Post finals week (mid-December to January), my commitments should let up a smidge, which will allow me to participate more frequently. 

As I mentioned, I’m one of the minority of undergraduate Scholars, and I am a senior in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing (fondly abbreviated WLP) program at Emerson College in Boston. I came into the program as a “W” loving to write fiction and wanting to graduate a capital-w “Writer” and while that hasn’t changed to a certain degree, throughout the course of my education I encountered Baudrillard and Foucault and Adorno and Žižek and Benjamin and Barthes among others, and abracadabra, my college career took an unscheduled turn into the academy. One of my cultural theorist professors likes to say that theory is the highest form of creative writing, and the first time I heard that something in my brain clicked into place. Quite suddenly, my intellectual life and its trajectory made a lot more sense.

Unsurprisingly then, my current research interests are centered in literary studies, narratology, cultural studies, and critical social theory. I am particularly interested in the way contemporary formulations of postmodernity demonstrate that society has largely externalized and commoditized the imagination; we as viewers have developed not only a reliance on, but a fundamentalist faith in, the image as truth. While much has been made of the way art and scholarship act upon one another, little has been said about how they intersect, and for me that leaves the line between complex narrative theme and theory increasingly blurred. In its current form, my undergraduate thesis rests upon the notion that a narrative can create theory, can “philosophize” independently by way of its thematic mechanics, and can do so in a way that circumvents more academic abstraction to be more intimately tied to the thoughts, actions, and social circumstances of the people they affect. Specifically, I advocate for interactive fiction as a privileged genre for pedagogical engagement with theory, so my interests overlap into game studies and higher education. These are topics that I am interested in pursuing further at any post-graduate institution to which I may have the great fortune to be admitted. I’m still whittling things down, and am in fact (proto-) defending in two weeks for my advisors and the director of the Honors program, so post-“defense” I should have a bit more directionality, particularly in terms of my artifact of examination.

I’m also taking a Utopian, Dystopian, and Apocalyptic Literature class this semester which has synthesized theory and narrative in a very different way for me, and so I’ve also been playing with ideas of “apocalypse” in the way D.H. Lawrence meant it when he described it as “a release of the imagination.” In his Apocalypse, he directly indicts scholastic work as unable to do that; he says it can at best satiate the intellect. This really spoke to me and to the project of my thesis, because yes Derridean oscillating binary, why not both? I think that's what I’m ultimately trying to do, really: find a way to release the imagination into theory, to make it aesthetic.

In any case, I’ve probably gone on long enough, but one thing I’ve particularly come to love about the HASTAC community is getting to peek at the possibilities for continuing my education, what it would look like for me to be doing in a few years’ time what many of you are doing already. As an undergraduate in a program highly tailored to communication and the arts, I have in some sense had to construct my own curriculum to be in a position to continue on to a Master’s or PhD program, and so having HASTAC to supplement that curriculum is invaluable to me. I hope to be able to get to know many of you better in the weeks to come, and can’t wait to contribute to the discourse.

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