Monday, April 16, 2007

Finally Getting Back to My Kyushu American Literature Society Talk that I Promised to Blog on Back in December

OK, so when I started CitizenSE, I never imagined that I'd be writing welcomes to my new students in Postcolonial Hawthorne on it. I conceived of it strictly as a scholarly blog and still do (despite the actual diversity of posts you'll encounter if you click on the Why CitizenSE tag on the sidebar or link in this sentence). I'm considering starting a Postcolonial Hawthorne blog that's for my students and me--and am interested in what "you all" think about it.

All of which bears only a tangential relationship to my aim in this post: to finally follow through on a promise I made at the very end of the very first CitizenSE post and share some parts of my rather autobiographical talk at the Kyushu American Literature Society annual meeting last December.

My basic goal for the talk was to puncture the image many in my audience might have had of the stereotyped Fulbright Visiting Lecturer. I didn't want to be the Distinguished Expert from the Heart of American Culture come to Lecture the Natives on the Proper Way of Reading American Literature. So how to avoid that role and demystify myself in such a way that some would want to get to know me and my work better after the talk and the meeting? (And that few would go away thinking, "What a Loser! He Doesn't Know the First Thing about Reading American Literature!") The approach that I took there is basically the same one that I've been taking in this blog: framing myself as someone in the middle of turning a dissertation into a book. So what I actually did in the talk was analyze how the project has changed from its first conception to its current incarnation. Or as I explained at the time,

My purpose is to convey my sense of the interrelationships between the fields of Hawthorne Studies, American Literary and Cultural Studies, Critical Race/Ethnicity Studies, and Postcolonial Studies in the past 15 years by delivering a kind of intellectual autobiography in which I analyze changes in the goals and methods of my approaches to what I have called “the race and Hawthorne problem.”

I identified three phases: conceptualizing the dissertation project; the research process and transformations of the dissertation; and teaching experiences and the transformations of the book manuscript. And I closed with some reflections on how Hawthornists have dealt with such problematics as gender, class, race, nation, region, and colony and predictions about the future of Hawthorne Studies.

So that'll be the "outline" for blogging this talk as time allows in the coming weeks. But as there's a thunderstorm rolling in to Fukuoka as I type and I need to do some copying, scanning, and uploading for my courses this semester, that'll have to do it for my first (or is it second?) CitizenSE two-a-day.

No comments: