Grad School Woe

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JohnstonMR
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Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:06 am Post

I'm going to whine now.

I'm a full-time high school English teacher. I'm also a father of a rather precocious four year old girl. I'm also a grad student, currently mired in a course on Hawthorne and Melville. In less than two weeks I need to turn in an annotated bibliography and precis for a term paper--and I haven't got a clue what I'm even going to write about next.

This class has frustrated me to no end. The amount of BS that passes for "criticism" is astounding anyway, but feed it to a room full of MA hopefuls and it gets positively insane. I know only that I tolerate Hawthorne (love his short stories, his novels make me roll my eyes except for The Scarlet Letter), and I love Melville--but I still don't have a point to write on.

Anyway, that's me whining. If I die before I graduate, know that I gave it my all, and my poor heart burst. :)

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pigfender
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Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:12 am Post

The only things I know about Hawthorne and Melville (with the exception of the first line of Moby-Dick) comes from what I have just read in their entries on Wikipedia.

However, it struck me as interesting that you singled out 'The Scarlet Letter' as the only one of his novels you like; apparently Hawthorne was going to write it as a short story but was convinced by his publisher to write it as a novel instead.

Perhaps there is something in that?
What is it about TSL that is different to his other works? Is it possible that he approached it not as a novel but in his mind was just a 'long short story' and that is reflected in the work?

Oh, and thank you for whining. I learnt new things today because you posted what you did.
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Wock
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Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:17 pm Post

Stark differences and similarities between the two in style of writing and what is it about those styles that you as a reader love?

Maybe environmental influences that effected their writing? Like the environmental influences a Grad student might be effected by when working as a teacher and also as a father?

In other words think of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo and the fact that Mikey didn't really like painting, he instead was into sculpture. Commissioned by the Pope the paint the Sistine Chapel, Michael Angelo resented the commission.

It became his most famous work...
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

dr
druid
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Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:11 pm Post

The time-honored reliable themes are time, space, and family relationships.
I leave out death, since that's a bummer and you already sound fairly desperate.
So, time: are there references to seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months, etc that are meaningful?
Do M and H have similar views of time? Do they understand temporal relativism, in the modern sense?
(The difference between 10 seconds of kissing and 10 seconds on a hot stove.)
Or...think about their descriptions of and uses of space, whether natural or built.
Is architecture the same in their worlds? What about landscapes?
Family: think parents, children, siblings, etc and how the authors treat them.
Finally, read about the H-M relationship, especially in 1850-51, and how M's review of
"Mosses from an Old Manse" affected his writing of Moby Dick.
He dedicated MD to H, and their letters describe their meetings to talk "ontological heroics"
As M put it. The letters are in most of the Norton Critical Editions of MD and SL.
Courage, Onward, and Good Luck!

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vic-k
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Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:18 am Post

druid wrote:temporal relativism,
A lot of that went on in the RED LION before they closed it down. :(
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garpu
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Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:37 pm Post

Oh I feel your pain. Then you get out and suddenly realize that the ability to wade through heaps of crap without hip boots is a useful skill. :mrgreen:
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