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prospecti

hi dawgs,
first, thanks for having me--i feel honored and unworthy. and, slightly jealous of all of you who have actually begun dissertations. speaking of, i wonder if you all would be willing to share the prospecti that you turned in to the grad school? i would love to check them out if you have a moment to post them (or, if you'd rather not post them, my email is knig0087@umn.edu). hope y'all are well.

Comments

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It's a little late, but here's mine. The particular writers I mention in the third paragraph are constantly changing, and there's a pretty good chance that the third paragraph will be just one chapter. Who knows? The dissertation is a mysterious, mysterious document to me.

Project Title: Resistance, Ideology, Women

I follow up on Barbara Harlow’s insistence that we generate criticism that better understands resistance writings, and show how literary representations of women acting in national liberation movements best exemplifies the tensions that must be inherent to any work of resistance literature.

Towards this end, I follow a three-step process: First, I address our understanding of resistance as a political act. In keeping with Harlow, who defines resistance as a movement for national liberation, I argue that resistance is paradoxical. To wit: I show how resistance as a political agenda challenges an oppressive status quo; yet, it conceives of itself as a reaction, and therefore assumes a position secondary to the dominating structures of power.

Second, I identify resistance ideology as the intellectual foundation of a movement of resistance, with literature being an important component of such an ideology . This particular ideological production is necessary for the purposes of liberation, but is not in itself revolutionary since a) it has to uphold the secondary nature of resistance and b) it functions ideologically, which is to say it is hegemonic.

Third, I argue that this tension between the progressive aim of resistance and its dependence on more conservative thoughts is nowhere clearer that in the consideration of women. In examining fictions of writers such as Tagore and Bankim, among others who write during moments of anticolonial struggle, I argue that literatures about resistance chart out political roles for women, thus contradicting a simplistic binary between political men and domestic women. Yet, these texts cannot escape patriarchy as they construct such women as seeming threats to traditional culture, which resistance ideology needs to preserve for the purpose of national liberation.

well, my thinking changed a lot over the course of my exams. i ended up writing about how a confluence of factors at the turn of the 20th c--new ideas about race, new disciplines/professions like anthropology and sociology, and mass publishing practices--engendered a particular fascination with difference among a middle-class reading public. particularly, i was interested in the place of "ethnic autobiography" in all of this (and with problematizing that term). much of my exam focused on a close reading of an autobiography that was published anonymously in the early 20th c called *Me: A Book of Remembrance*. It was written by a Chinese-Canadian woman named Winnifred Eaton who passed as Japanese, adopting a Japanese pen name and writing stories mainly set in Japan. There was a lot of speculation about the book's authorship, and many reviewers focused on "hints" about the author's race to figure it out. I tried to use the situation to speculate about the invention of ethnic selves and the reading practices surrounding autobiography, and also to make connections to multiculturalism at the turn of the 21st c. So...I don't yet really know what's going to become of all of this! I've spent the summer reading things that I think are ultimately proving useless, and the whole project still feels really amorphous. These issues of autobiography/authenticity, reading practices, ethnicity as spectacle, etc., have not yet lined themselves up into neat little chapters for me. I'm hoping the post-exams burnout will wear off sooner than later and I'll start to feel productive again!

thanks for the tip! i haven't heard of 'diary of a shirtwaist striker,' but will definitely check it out. i've been having trouble trying to connect these artists to the garment workers, since many of the artists were interested in distancing themselves from the working class, but am trying to make that problematic part of my project. when you have a moment, it would be great to hear more about which texts, authors, questions, etc., you're thinking about for your diss.

Becky--this sounds fascinating. Per your email: have you read Theresa Malkeil's *Diary of a Shirtwaist Striker*? (From the Literature of Labor series out of Cornell UP, I think--might be worth seeing if there are other titles of interest in the series, too.) Also, Donna Gabbaccia's bibliography on immigrant women, while it's now outdated, might have some useful stuff--there are sections particularly on Jewish women and on work. I would love to hear more about your thinking in terms of Riding, Loy, Deren, and Albers' connection to garment workers.

here is mine:

Academic investigations into the connection between texts and textiles have focused on the incorporation of texts into textiles and the use of textiles as communication. My project adds a new angle, an examination of women who produced textiles as well as wrote theoretically about textiles, to this conversation. Four American women artists who worked in the early-mid twentieth century—Anni Albers, Maya Deren, Mina Loy, and Laura Riding—all designed, made, and wrote about textiles. They actively engaged in both the crafting of fiber-based objects and the crafting of language about these objects. Scholarship does not currently recognize their dual status as both theorists and designers.

Riding, Loy, Deren, and Albers worked in different media and did not know or associate with each other, but all came from an assimilated Jewish ancestry. All four have been read as rejecting their Jewish heritage and as anti-feminist and apolitical. I argue that in fact these avant-garde artists had a significant connection to garment laborers, many of whom were immigrant Jewish women, working in textile factories in the U.S. in the early twentieth century. Bringing literary studies and the history of textile-making together, my project breaks down the distinctions between craft and art and between workers and avant-garde artists. I incorporate details from biographies and critical receptions of these women’s work to support my close examinations of their creative and theoretical writings.