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Along A Well-Trod Path

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Shakespeare and Greeks [May. 20th, 2008|01:34 am]
Today was one of those days - you know the kind, where something awesome happens, followed by something fucked up?

First, the awesome thing...

I stopped by the university today to pick up a copy of my transcript, and to get some papers signed by the appropriate authorities for a scholarship application. While I was in the registrar's office, I ran into my professor from my poetry and rhetorical criticism class, and he asked me to stop by his office when I was finished. He wanted to talk to me about my final paper for rhet. crit. Of course, my first thought is, "You already gave me an A for the class, motherfucker - no take backs." But I girded my loins, and told him I was gonna grab a cigarette first, then drop by.

So I go into his office and we start bullshitting about stuff like we do, because we have a lot of common interests, chief among them Shakespeare. He's been working on a lengthy academic piece about "Troilus and Cressida" for some high falutin' academic journal, and we've talked about it a few times over the semester. And he brings up the paper I had turned in, which was also about Shakespeare, using a particular perspective that I developed which was interesting to me, but strangely enough had nothing in the way of academic or supplemental and critical material to draw upon.

And this is where it got weird - he liked the paper. I mean, really liked it. We talked about my approach and how I supported my argument, stuff like that. And he tells me that it's the kind of analysis that will be a hell of a thesis for graduate study, if I decide to go on to a master's and doctorate. We start really digging into the theme of the paper, and he's adamant that the idea is worthy of a full-fledged book, probably not a best seller but certainly one of those academic texts that will get a lot of attention.

And it started to sink in, not really, truly, finally until a few hours later, but it hit me sitting in a chair in his office when he said, "Nobody's ever come up with this kind of analysis, this kind of view of what he was doing when he was writing this stuff. And people've been doing it for centuries, trying to figure out his stuff. You got a book here, man. You really got something different here."

So what he's telling me that this five page essay I slammed together almost instinctively and by the seat of my pants, is in essence, the discovery of something new in Shakespeare's body of work.

Nobody's ever come across this before, or at least published anything about it. And the thought of that has kinda got me dazed.

I'm going to keep the idea close in and not say what it is, not for a while yet, at least not until I get something published somewhere.

And the other thing, the kind of fucked up incident...

I use my parent's address as my permanent one, just in case I ever move from my current place, which isn't likely, but better safe than sorry, right? So that means most of my mail from the university goes to their house, which is cool. They're pretty good about making sure I get whatever comes in on a timely basis. But they missed one letter.

So I headed over to their place today for a visit and gather all my correspondence together to see what I have. And my mom points out one from Incarnate Word that they had forgotten to give to me a few months back. I open it up, and it's an invitation from the school to sign up for the Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society. Seems my 3.9 GPA qualified me for it, which is kind of a big deal.

And the deadline to apply was March 14.

So mom was pretty crestfallen. She digs that kind of shit - it's the kind of stuff mothers love to brag about. And she feels bad because it was kind of her fault, but I assure her it's no big deal. In the long run, it's rather minor compared to developing a ground-breaking theory about Shakespeare's work and his intent. I was cool.

So yeah. One of those days.

[User Picture]From: _kiss_my_elbow_
2008-05-20 02:16 pm (UTC)
that's AWESOME!!! super congrats to you! i don't blame you for not parading your idea around. go publish that shit! :)
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[User Picture]From: argent_fish
2008-05-20 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks, it IS pretty awesome! I'm looking at the different kind of academic journals that I could submit something to today, actually.

And I don't think I ever offered my congrats for getting engaged, did I? Congratulations if I didn't!
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[User Picture]From: la_luna
2008-05-20 07:53 pm (UTC)
Awww...maybe you can get in anyway. E-mail and ask. Alpha Chi members got a cool, embossed sticker on their OLLU diplomas. Maybe Incarnate Nerd does that, too.
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[User Picture]From: la_luna
2008-05-20 07:57 pm (UTC)
And, about the Shakespeare thing, very cool. You'll find out for certain whether or not your idea is original if/when you write a thesis on the damned thing because one of the prerequisites is that you do an exhaustive (and I do mean exhaustive) review of the literature before you begin to write. That way you aren't wasting your time just in case somebody's already produced a major work on the topic.

I thought for sure nobody had done an Aristotelian critical analysis of anything Thurber had written, much less his one and only play. I mean...who would bother? Wrong. Somebody had written an entire book about it. I still ended up being able to pull off the thesis because I took a slightly different angle, but it made me realize how truly hard it is to have a "new" idea. So if you've got one, cash it in, baby!

Oh, and what is this profs name? I took Arthurian Lit at UIW from a guy who was all over Troilus and Cressida, Prof. Paris. Same guy? Tall, Greek dude in cowboy boots?
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[User Picture]From: argent_fish
2008-05-20 08:12 pm (UTC)
That's EXACTLY who it is! He's been pretty encouraging about my work since I took his Greek and Roman classics class last semester. I'm hoping he's right about the Shakespeare paper. I'm starting the research on the topic now, actually, to see if anyone's approached it the way I have. The one thing on my side is that Rhetorical Theory is pretty damn new as a discipline, so the field is pretty wide open.
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[User Picture]From: la_luna
2008-05-20 08:32 pm (UTC)
He's cool. You've heard my Prof. Paris story, non? The one about us discussing the homoerotic subtext in the Achilles/Patroclus relationship in the Troilus, and he sort of blew it off...and I got all het up and said, rather emphatically, "Of course they were queer! They were Greeks, for chrissakes!"

Then, a heartbeat later, I remembered I was talking to a Greek man, one who can trace his ancestry back to the Knights Templar, and is very proud of his heritage, so I started backpedaling, and I stuttered, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that quite the way it sounded," and he just busted out laughing right along with the rest of the folks in the class.

I really enjoyed that class. Not that moment, but the class as a whole, yes. I wrote a paper on the parallels between the origins and death stories of Arthur and Quetzalcoatl for Paris. Basically, the similarities can be blamed on Catholic monks rewriting Aztec codices. Damn those Christians putting a messianic twist on every damned hero myth they can get their hands on! Fun stuff.
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