March 17, 2010

a note on what i'm doing

A week of tough decisions. I've decided to go to Edmonton, Alberta this fall to do an MA in English at the University of Alberta. In the process I've had to reject offers from the University of Victoria and the University of Ottawa; both have strong programs and attractive locations with high price tags attached to them. The rationale for my choice certainly had to do with funding and living expenses, but I'm not just choosing UA because it has the deepest pockets. It has a significant collection of rare books (not to mention the second largest collection in Canada), some of which will be of considerable use for my work on John Milton and early modern literature more generally. In addition to more traditional literature courses (one on Shakespeare and the commons, another on travel literature from Chaucer through Jonathan Swift and more recent postcolonial poets), I plan on taking a course on Derrida's later work, a course on "The Politics and Aesthetics of Literary Reading," and (hopefully) course on cultural theory with Imre Szeman, who studied under the Marxist literary critic Frederic Jameson at Duke.

Initially, I intended to focus on the concept of authority in Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained with attention to its manifestations in theology, politics and the literary/poetic tradition as Milton saw it. If this seems vague and overly broad that's because it is. Writing a statement of purpose for applications can feel incredibly arbitrary. I tried to touch all the bases with mine, even throwing in a few words on the "death of the author." Although, I may not in fact write a thesis, I think this idea will become more grounded as time passes. From the start, I knew that I wanted to tie this in with the Protestant emphasis on the the centrality of the Word and consider how Milton's pair of epic poems construe reading, faith and reason.

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