Thursday, June 25, 2009

So, I've been thinking...

...a dangerous prospect, I know.

On my run this morning, I was considering dissertation directions. Here are a few I've been mulling over (in no particular order):

1) An Ethics of Textual Intimacy: Latter-day Saint Narratives of Embodiment

This one feeds my growing interest in ethics and literature (i.e. how does this narrative influence me? how do my values influence my reading of this narrative? how does "listening" to this narrative effect my immediate---and beyond---quality of life?), my continued engagement with the rhetoric of embodiment (i.e. what is the connection between body, mind, and language?), and my commitment to studying Mormon culture and cultural artifacts.

2) In Constant Paradox: Personal/Critical/Narrative

This one plays into my frustration over the pedantry and pretension of academic literary studies (in which writing about and from personal experience is, well, frowned upon) and deals with the notion of personal/narrative scholarship, i.e. critical scholarship in the form (as it were) of the personal essay. "In constant paradox" refers to the ever ambiguous situation of the scholar, who stands at the intersection of these personal, critical, academic, narrative worlds.

3) An approach to the life, work, and legacy of Eugene England

This one engages my interest in Mormon studies and one of its founding fathers in a way that focuses on England's theoretical approach to Mormon culture and his contributions to the Mormon intellectual legacy.

4) Joseph Smith's Literary Genius

This one approaches Joseph Smith as a literary mind (well, duh! I got that from the title, you say) who built the foundation for an expansive Mormon literary tradition.

Right now I'm leaning toward 1) because it seems the most refined and well-defined, but I vacillate so much on these things, I may well end up focusing on one of the other three, or something completely different.

But at least I've got options to consider and time to get the work done. I've just finished my first year of coursework and still have one more to go before the "official" dissertationing begins, though that doesn't mean I can't get the jump on things.

And when the wife says jump...