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28 October 2006 @ 12:01 pm
another random update  
Some thoughts on "Rise of the Cybermen," Oh, Rose. Wanting to go see your father--did you learn nothing from "Father's Day"?

I *so* knew that "Rose" was going to be a dog.

Mickey + Mickey's grandma = SAD. No wonder he keeps latching on to people the way he does. (And how funny is it that he's gone from complaining to Rose that "It's always gonna be the Doctor, and never me" to complaining to the Doctor that he's always going to chase after Rose and not him? I like that so much better than Mickey competing with the Doctor for Rose's affections.) It's too bad that Mickey actually sees *himself* as useless, though. I hope he gets a chance to turn that around.

It's interesting that in both "Father's Day" and this episode, it's Pete who seems to recognize Rose in some fashion, instantaneously, and not Jackie. I would have expected it to be the other way around, since Jackie is the one who knows her, after all. I do like that he recongnizes her, though. (And speaking of which, that scene with Jackie hurt, after the closeness of the "tea with two sugars" beginning. Poor Rose, to be so emboldened by her success with Pete and then to be put in "her place" so harshly by her mum.)

Rose always seems to wind up in food service, doesn't she? I wonder how much former shopgirl Rose took alterna-Jackie's "You're just a servant!" to heart. If your own mother can't see more than you to that, even your alternate world mother who never actually had you, then how do you keep from thinking that that's all you are?

This season seems to feature a lot of the Doctor yelling "There's nothing we can do!" as he runs to safety. Interesting. Residual guilt from being Nine, perhaps?

And finally: "Delete!" is just not as terrifying as "Exterminate!" Sorry.

In other news, I've been feeling very intellectually stunted this week in comparison to my classmates. On Friday there were a bunch of talks on a subject I know so little about that it wouldn't have been worth it for me to attend--and yet everyone else was so excited about the prospect. It was just another reminder (as if I needed one) that my greatest worry about grad school is probably that I'm just a dilettante when it comes to studying English literature. When I graduated from college, I had no real intention of applying to grad school; I had barely begun to think about it at that point, and only because my advisor suggested that I should. I took two years off, to think about it, and at the end of the first of those years, I thought I missed school, reading books and talking about them and writing about them, so I applied (still at least half thinking that I wouldn't get in, but at least no one could accuse me of not trying). I did get in, and I came to grad school thinking that I'd be able to really learn about this subject--Shakespeare and Renaissance drama--that I'd just begun being fascinated by in college; that it would give me the push I needed to really know the subject.

And I needed that push, because I was never the kind of person who read literary criticism in my spare time, as my classmates seem to have been--just as I was never the kind of child/adolescent who read Austen and Hardy and Tolstoy for fun, as most of my college friends were; I stayed in the children's/YA/fantasy camps mostly, except for the random history books I would check out. When I got really interested in Shakespeare, I'd check out biographies, books on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century history, Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd (inexplicably), one really regrettable book on the authorship question (not that I finished most of them; sometimes I think I have book-ADD), but never books of criticism, the sort of thing I'm supposed to be figuring out how to do myself, now. I don't even think that I was avoiding criticism, but I went to a school where criticism was given mainly in small doses here and there, and it just didn't even occur to me that criticism wasn't just something you read when you had an idea about something and you needed to write a paper about it.

I'd get excited about projects in high school and college, try to do way too much--like attempting to give myself a crash course in Russian history and read at least two biographies of Catherine the Great for a five-page paper I was chosen to write that was supposed to accompany a group project we did in high school; or getting really interested in romantic friendships between women in the nineteenth century for a project that was mainly my excuse to read the letters of Emily Dickinson to Susan Dickinson--but once the projects were done, I seldom went back to the topic. And even now, I get really interested in some random topic--like the Elizabethan portrait, or prophecy in Shakespeare--and I wander off to the library and happily check out stacks of books by Roy Strong and Keith Thomas, and I take them home (and probably several other books that have nothing to do with anything), pleased and excited by my new haul...but somehow the books never get read, and I never become a better student or scholar or whatever combination of those things I'm supposed to be right now, while my classmates are putting together articles they want to try to publish and going to talks about major critical issues I know nothing about... and I'm checking out another soon-to-remain-unread stack of books about some new thing that sounds shiny and interesting. I've been like this my whole life, it seems; at what point do I just throw in the towel and retreat to my natural level of children's books and fantasy (not that there is anything wrong with those things, I hasten to add, but they do seem to be the only books I ever wind up finishing), and maybe just puttering around the edges of Shakespeare every now and again? If I constantly need something to push me into doing what should come naturally, then shouldn't I just stop trying to do it--acept my failure gracefully and all that?

In the meantime, though, I have 18 papers to grade by Monday (which is only half of what the other TFs for the class have to grade; I only have one section because of the head TF stuff), which I am not looking forward to. I worked in my alma mater's writing center for those two years I took off, so it's not the reading and commenting I'm worried about so much as I'm worried about being the final arbiter. One of the things I liked about the writing center was that I didn't have the final word; even during bad conferences, I could console myself by remembering that even if I'd only suggested one thing the student could use, the paper would be better by the amount of that one thing. And I wasn't the only person who was giving them advice on the paper; the first advice should have come from the professor. But I almost feel as though I'm responsible for bad grades now if I give them--at least for people who came to talk to me (not that many), because I am that first advice-giver. Sigh.
 
 
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La Reine Noire: Elegancelareinenoire on October 28th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
I don't know if it'll be any consolation to simply know that you aren't the only person who avoids reading criticism like the proverbial plague, but I can definitely join you in that camp. I've always loved books and always read precisely whatever I wanted, whether it was Jane Austen or Lois Duncan or whoever else.

My first exposure to lit crit was my first year of undergrad, in a required course for all English majors -- it just so happened that the section I was in was focusing entirely on Jane Eyre, looking at it from all kinds of critical perspectives (feminist, Marxist, deconstructionist, what have you). I decided that I didn't really like theory, that I'd use it when I had to, but I much preferred close reading of texts rather than purely theoretical work.

When I moved into graduate-level work, I felt so completely at sea. Everyone around me seemed to have forgotten more about literary theory than I'd ever known. It still scares me, to be quite honest, because once you're at the doctoral level, everyone just assumes you know what you're doing...

I guess I've come to view theory as a necessary evil. I'm never going to like it; that much is certain. But I've come to terms with the fact that if one wishes to be taken seriously, one needs that sort of foundational network, even if just to name-drop every now and then to convince people that you know what you're talking about. If that makes any sense.

But I can sympathise, for what that's worth.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on October 29th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
I do appreciate it, so much. Thanks!

I think the fact that people assume I must already know this stuff is the real problem, both because it seems like everyone else already knows it, and because I'd expected to learn it once I got to grad school (so that I could then reject it knowledgeably, I suppose!). I really dislike the way theory often seems to close the door on conversations about literature with people who *aren't* in academia, but you're right, it is a necessary evil.

And I had such a thing for Lois Duncan books when I was younger. The Third Eye, Locked in Time, that one with the twin who lived in some kind of asylum and tried to kill her sister and take over her life...so much supernatural fun!
La Reine Noire: Crystal Balllareinenoire on October 29th, 2006 10:55 am (UTC)
I really dislike the way theory often seems to close the door on conversations about literature with people who *aren't* in academia, but you're right, it is a necessary evil.

Oh, those people annoy me. It is possible to talk about literature without name-dropping; I'm just grateful I've managed to find a few people willing to make fun of those that do. Some friends and I were making fun of this guy the other day who insisted on referencing Harold Bloom in every other sentence...

If a theory helps to explain something about a work, I'll bring it up. Otherwise, I tend to leave it alone unless someone else requests it.

Down a Dark Hall was my favourite by Lois Duncan. Something about evil creepy boarding schools that turned their students into Emily Brontë and Franz Schubert just did it for me.
tempestsarekind: a great readertempestsarekind on October 29th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
If a theory helps to explain something about a work, I'll bring it up. Otherwise, I tend to leave it alone unless someone else requests it.

A very reasonable rule! During my first year in grad school, I wrote an essay that was faulted for being more about the text I'd chosen to write on than about theory--which might have been the assignment (though most of us were unsure as to what the assignment actually was), but I still haven't figured out what the point of such an essay would have been. We were instructed to pick a literary text to write on, after all, so I thought that was meant to be the focus--if we were supposed to write about theory, why bother with picking a text? Anyway.

And I'd forgotten about Down a Dark Hall! That book was enough to give someone an irrational fear of boarding schools. And, uh, pianos, I guess. (Though maybe it was just the cover.)
La Reine Noire: Elegancelareinenoire on October 29th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
Well, I remember reading the Malory Towers series either around the same time or not too long before reading Down a Dark Hall, so I think I was torn between really wanting to go to a boarding school and being mildly frightened of them. Though at the time, being possessed by the ghost of Emily Brontë actually didn't seem like a horrible deal to me...

That assignment sounds nasty. I suppose I can understand writing about theory in order to prove that you understand the theory, but surely the best way to do so would be to apply said theory to a text? Ironically, my favourite paper from my M.Phil. was as part of my core course on literary theory -- it took Lacan (who to this day terrifies me) and applied him to the book and film Rebecca. I think that's really the only time I enjoyed working with theory; it was like putting puzzle pieces together.