Thinking of Joyce last night, which inevitably led to thinking about Zukofsky, made me wonder (again) why I’m not working on either of those authors for my dissertation. Of course, I haven’t started my diss., so I could still work on them. Because I had a significant background in modernism before coming to UVA, I was encouraged to take courses in other areas to broaden my knowledge, so I haven’t taken any courses explicitly on modernism, although my Cross-Cultural Poetry class began with turn-of-the-century writers.

Talking to Jim (T, not B) a couple of days ago also led to threads of thought about Zukofsky and to the question of why I’m not working on him.

Why aren’t I working on him?

I think my plan has been to utilize the 19thC and feminist theory resources at UVA when writing my diss. Looking at ecriture feminine, so to speak, in Victorian authors, esp. male authors like James–an extension or reworking of my master’s thesis. I have felt that since I can work on more than one topic, I should choose the topic that will benefit most from the resources at my institution (I also really like the Victorianists, students and faculty, at UVA). I have felt that there is less pressure for me in Victorian lit than there is if I were to write on contemporary poetry/poetics, plasticity, Joyce, etc. I have thought that if I write on something that really interests me, I will never finish.

I’m not sure who I’d work with if I worked on Zukofsky. Likely Tucker, who I’d always work with, and Arata or Levenson or Ramazani. There ain’t no Mark Scroggins at UVA. Then again, Mark Scroggins did his own thing when there was no Mark Scroggins at Cornell.

On an unrelated note (unless you’ve heard Creeley’s coffee story) it’s Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s.


About Jessica Smith
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