And so the grind begins again tomorrow morning--although, as I was saying to Ms. Starlite earlier, can it still be called the grind if there's only one hour of class tomorrow? But I do have other stuff, meetings and doctors and such, so it should be a full day.
What a lovely, quiet weekend. I read four books (loved three--His Dark Materials--and was sorely disappointed by the other) and watched a few movies...took a satellite phone call from the mid-Atlantic. My webcam is now functional as well, and I think I have decoded the mysteries of the socktopus.
And so I begin the new term, cautiously optimistic. I am taking two and a half courses this term--Sky Gilbert's The Politic of the Cross-Dressed Body (Aspects of the Theory of Drama, Theatre, and Performance):
This theoretical course will look at two different eras and their approaches to cross-dressed performance, and make inquiries about the fundamental political implications of the cross-dressed body. We will start by examining historical documents concerning the performances of men dressed as women (particularly English Renaissance anti-theatrical texts) and (by careful reading of extant primary sources) consider the sociological necessities (particularly the banning of women from the stage) that precipitated cross-dressed roles before the nineteenth century. What effect did the appearance of real women on the stage have on theatre in the Restoration? When we jump to modern times, we will compare and contrast Farquar’s The Recruiting Officer and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good. What did the cross-dressing mean then, and what does it mean now, in a theatrical context? We will look at some modern theoretical texts, including Judith Butler, Kenneth Plummer, and Judith Halberstam which discuss the radical, performative and political nature of gender disruption in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Is a performance on stage different from the performative in real life? (Simone Benmussa’s The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs will help us in this discussion, as we examine a contemporary play about a real life nineteenth-century instance of female to male cross-dressing.) We will not ignore nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century English music hall (as well as Vaudeville and contemporary comedy) when we ask the question: is it possible for cross-dressed performers in contemporary culture NOT to have a political effect? Finally, we will examine the different political consequences of male to female and female to male cross-dressing, and the relationship each has to the performative.
and Jennifer Schacker's Between Literature and Anthropology (Special Topics in Literature):
This course will explore the dynamic interrelationship of cultural theories and textual practices involved in the representation of oral traditions. Our reading list will cross some disciplinary boundaries, foregrounding theories of culture and creativity in which conception of a distinct “folk” or “oral style” are salient–from the seventeenth and eighteenth century philological tradition (Lowth, Wood, Herder), through Victorian folklorists and anthropology (the Grimms, Dasent, Müller), early twentieth-century ethnography (Sapir, Jacobs), and more recent cross-disciplinary work on “verbal art” (Finnegan, Tedlock, Hymes, Bauman, Briggs). Our goal throughout is to denaturalize “folk style” and to explore its indexical relations to gender, genre, narrative authority, and the politics of culture. Towards that end, we are likely to return to a core set of questions: In what terms is folk style constructed, and to what is it contrasted? In what contexts is the concept invoked, and to what end? To what extent do such conceptualizations construct folklore as modernity’s “Other”? Does the theorizing of difference necessarily produce imaginative narratives, or conjectural histories? Does the theorizing of folk style heighten scholars’ attention to their/our own styles of expression? What textual practices, cultural policies, and allocations of intellectual energy might such conceptions implicate?
The half-course is my remaining research module, described below, which is apparently dealing with some aspects of Reader Response Theory. I suspect this will be an enormously stimulating semester; I have some interesting things that could relate to potential research projects for the summer...but all of this has yet to be discussed with my potential supervisor.