Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mid-March Miscellany

It's the middle of March. Must be time for an update.

The 9-month sleep regression? As bad as they say.

This kid? As cute as can be.

To Do List (not in order of priority):

  1. Complete grades for ENG 200 by Sunday
  2. Compose scientific article for DAT study guide (freelance writing gig) Deadline? weekly
  3. Develop syllabus for ENG 2201, starting 3/28/12 (entails writing three scaffolded assignment sequences and course calendar, figuring out how to deliver course readings to students [goal: no book order]) Deadline? 3/28
  4. Begin VSAWC conference paper (entails working through archive of matrimonial advertisements from London Journal and reading relevant chapter in Jennifer Phegley’s new book) Deadline? 4/25
  5. Campus Interview Presentation: TBD (I’ve got nearly three weeks; I’m thinking Sensation Fiction, sensational fictions of marriage, a return to my book chapter on bigamy in England and polygamy in India) Deadline? 4/1
  6. Spring Cleaning and baby-proofing of home (we’re going to have a crawler/cruiser any day now) Deadline? Mathilde's choice
  7. Begin book review of Ian Ward’s Law and the Brontës (currently re-reading The Professor as preparation) Deadline? 5/1
  8. Format article for NCGS, plus fine-tuning and tinkering because I can’t keep my hands off it (but hurrah! My Mr. Meeson’s Will article will be published this fall!) Deadline? 5/1
  9. Work scheduled hours at other part-time job (for a little online shopping company you may have heard of called Why? To support my teaching hobby.
  10. I am pretty sure I am forgetting something. Like exercise, or healthy eating, or trip to CostCo, or dentist appointment. Oh!
  11. Schedule dentist appointment—add to that eye doctor, haircut, and lobotomy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Global Dickens?

One of the schools that I interviewed for at MLA this past January has a “Global Shakespeare” course in its catalog. This was promising, I thought, since my work conceives of Victorian Studies as something that should be global in scope, if only to acknowledge that what made the Victorians who they were was their vast-reaching empire. Maybe this school would like a “Global Victorianist?” I thought to myself. No, no they would not, it seems.

In other news, as the Dickens’s World online conference put on by Wiley-Blackwell this week (3/7/12 and 3/8/12, though in some other time zone) goes on, I am currently thrilling to the themes in John Jordan’s essay “Global Dickens.” My first reaction was to fantasize about the course I could teach by the same name. Or better suited, “Postcolonial Dickens!” But such gut reactions are best quelled in this job market. Instead, I buckle down to consider in what ways it would be possible to conceive of Dickens globally and what kind of horizon such a configuration must have.

The article praises Professor Ada Nisbet for conceiving of Dickens as an artist whose work has achieved global significance and circulation. Jordan’s essay describes Nesbit’s ambitious project to create an international bibliography of Dickens Studies. The project, essentially a global reception study heartily limited by language, seems to have had a positively Casaubonian scope to it. Nesbit never finished it. Jordan accuses the postal system of slowly stifling the project and understates the point: Nesbit lacked adequate technology to complete the project.

My own concern, given my scholarly background, is Dickens in India. For sure, recording the reception of Dickens in India alone would have driven any scholar mad: Jordan writes, "The essay on 'Dickens in India' was especially anomalous, since it would have contained references to some 14 different languages spoken within the Indian subcontinent, including English." Oh right, that national language problem (just imagine the voting ballots). Also listed as an obstacle to the completion of the project: “appropriate contributors were difficult to find. India proved especially challenging, and Professor Nisbet was obliged to locate new researchers there as one prospective contributor after another declined or withdrew from the project.” One wonders what is meant by an “appropriate” contributor? Literary criticism looks very different in India than in North America; in my reading experience, what passes for literary criticism in India is far more erudite and historical (literary historical and biographical in flavor), far less theoretical or formalist (formalism having always already been limited by its European contours). Jordan does give a proper shout out to Priya Joshi’s archival work, but then I wonder, when will we finally stop pointing to Joshi’s work as exemplary because it’s finally been extended by other scholars?

I think the moral of this story, though Jordan does not overtly call for it, is to digitize this project, “Global Dickens.” Something like RaVoN.

In conclusion, this line from Jordan’s essay made me chuckle: “A Dickens Fellowship supposedly exists in Poona, although little evidence of its presence can be found.” Maybe Poona is where my tenure-track job is, too.