Friday, September 15, 2006

Stagnant as a Pool

I've been here for almost two months and aside from introducing my ankle to the pavement, and contracting a awful cold/cough/asthma/respiratory whatever, I have nothing to boast for it. No stellar performance in class, no significant weight loss, not even a finished short story or suite of poems. Is this what happens when you're cast adrift, without anchor or compass? Because right now, it feels like I've not accomplished much, if at all, except to make a nice little nest for myself and to PRETEND that I'm working.

I've noticed that I'm very good at pretending. Even to myself.

Anyway, mid-semester break's coming up the week after next, and I'm hoping that I can be productive enough to at least be able to put together a coherent research essay proposal. While the workload isn't as intimidating as an undergraduate course (because of the sheer fact that I have fewer subjects), there is still that pressure to do well - well enough for a graduate student, well enough for an ASEAN scholar, well enough for myself. I am my own worst critic, and my own largest hurdle to face.

Workload-wise:

1. Asian & Other Modernities research essay proposal - I'm planning to tackle the concept of the modern schoolroom in Southeast Asia as depicted in two Southeast Asian young adult novels. Initially, I wanted to do a comparison of YA schoolroom novels (no Bildungsroman though - there's a fine line separating that from the YA novel, and has a lot to do with intended audience) from the pre-modern (i.e., pre-colonial, colonial period) but there seems to be a derth of literature. So instead my literary texts are strictly coming from the present day, and I'm doing an analysis of the representation of the modern Southeast Asian schoolroom in these texts, and whether or not they truly adhere to the concept of the modern.

2. The Postcolonial Novel in English term paper - I'm going heads-on with Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and historigraphic metafiction. (Yay! New term!) My instructor was kind enough to point me in the direction of several texts concerning the concept, which basically has to do with the fantastical representation of historical events. I'm wondering if I can get away with a comparison, since I'm interested in tackling the concept of history in a non-realistic text. Is it still history? (I'm inclined to think that it is.) How is history represented in a text? What kind of liberal assumptions can an author make in order to get away with the fantastic events but at the same time ground it in historical reality? That kinda thing.

3. Postcolonial Poetry in English essay - This one totally escapes me. I'm just aware that I'm doing an essay on Ingrid de Kok's Terrestrial Things but I'm not sure where it's going to go. We're still not given the information and the requirements for the essay, so until that's disseminated, everything's up in the air. O_o

Aside from that, I have three presentations as well, two exams *runs away* and next week, I'm responding to the topic of "Women in Modernity" which I'm hoping to dust off my feminist theories and just run away with it. I already purchased the big bad book of literary theory, The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, just to refresh my memory of the concepts. What really gets my goat is the idea that one has to inevitably resort to name-dropping just to appear intellectual, which might also just be my survival mechanism working, since I really can't do that with the same ease and panache as some of my other classmates. *cries*

Anyway, hopefully this will be a productive weekend. ^_^

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Cast's off! Yay!

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