Esther’s Space- journey through my life

September 14, 2008

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Filed under: Uncategorized — estherspace @ 1:11 am
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September 13, 2008

Proposal, another one?!

Filed under: Australia — Tags: , — estherspace @ 8:19 pm

Now that I did some quick thinking on that proposal, here’s another I have to consider: wtf do I propose to do my ph.d. on?  Here’s where my thinking is at right now:  I am opperating on the premises that contemporary Australian fiction is largely preoccupied with trying to identify the role/position of the modern Australian in a society that is in a state of tension.  (between races, between what?) I could look at the way contemporary (white?) Australian authors are expressing this tension/identity search.  Where it comes from:  I did the Winton paper on how the linked short stories genre is an effective means of writing the white Australian search for identity, to which I hold firm.  The form of the narrative is as (if not more) important as the content in conveying this meaning. (how do texts ‘mean’? is another post).  And, from the feedback I got, Winton’s is not a solitary example.  Then I got to thinking– how about that rise in autobiographies?  and memoirs?  what about the novels based on ‘true events’?  What happened to the Lawson-esque short stories?  The way Australians tell their stories has changed dramatically since the beginning of wide-scale publishing.  I think the way the stories are being told can tell us a lot about the anxieties Australians are feeling, and in our little happy globalized world, I have a feeling there are certain echoes of this trend (you know, the trend that I haven’t actually identified yet). 

There let it be said.  It’s on file.

Really, it’s time to get something done.

Filed under: Australia — Tags: , , , — estherspace @ 8:10 pm

Okay, I work too much.  I admit that.  But, it can no longer function as an excuse, because my oh-so-important temporary, part-time, low-paying job will be a sad substitute for a real job in 10 years.  So, on to the hardcore thinking.  Only problem  is that I’m kind of, sort of supposed to have a proposal done for this by monday, and my ever-patient mentor has heard nothing of my plans– but here goes, nonetheless.

What if I call it, “Re-‘writing the history of the present’: Carey, the Booker, and the body politic”?  I think it has a nice cadence to it.  But, I’m afraid it is implying too much, or I’ll be taking on too much. 

Here’s my thinking on it:  One of the reasons this Carey thing hasn’t gone faster is that I have been stuck in trying to figure out how to tie all of the strings nicely together.  As critic upon critic has mentioned, every one of Carey’s books is unique and complicated.  So how can I go about weaving the connections, while also having to incorporate the physical present of the Booker prize, as well as the idea of the booker into my argument?  The solution: to look at the body politic (e.g. the transformation of power, the way punishment operates, the idea of the prison- figurative and literal) to access Carey’s two Booker-winning novels. 

Why it works:  discussion of the ‘body politic’ has been linked to ideas of nationalism, which I believe is at stake both in Carey’s novels and in the politics surrounding him being awarded the Booker.  power is a central theme in Carey’s works- who has the power to make the rules, who has the power/position to be judgemental, who ultimately ‘wins’. And, to bash my dead horse once again, these novels are part of this attempt on the part of Australian writers to re-imagine the history that has led up to the current turmoil of the present, searching for a better way to understand the historical relationship between all of the different segments of the population that are considered ‘Australian’  btw, the quote in the title comes from the end of Foucault’s introduction to “Discipline and Punish”  so, the play on words through adding in the ‘re-‘ is supposed to be the idea that not only are these novels attempting to write the history of the present as a way of understanding how the present came to be, but Carey is actually simultaneously re-writing the history, providing his own take on things- wanna talk about power transferal there?

What needs to be figured out:  I need to read more Foucault.  It’s on the list of things to do.  I know Carey plays with the idea of the gendered body, and I know Foucault talks about the body, but I haven’t gotten there yet- more to come.  I know it can work, but I need to attempt to articulate how the novels function in regards to body politic not based on what is written between the covers, but their function in the world.  They represent very specific ideas of Australia (though not necessarily the historically held ones), and they are written for specific audiences (Australia or the world- the jury is still in deliberation). Winning the Booker means mucha moolah for the author (it’s got to be a factor).  And perhaps a consideration of Carey’s place in the body politic.  what power does he have, or what is his subjected to? 

So much to think about.  I’ll read some more Foucault then I’ll get back to you.

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