Thursday, 13 March 2014

February/March... and beyond.

I was absolutely shocked coming to the blog and realising that I hadn't updated since January. Where has time gone in 2014! I cannot believe it is March already. Hope that everyone who reads is having a nice year so far. I have been continuing the thesis write-up and aside from a few weeks of lethargy (which I am only beginning to come out of now), everything has been going ok with my dissertation.

Along with writing up, I had been completing some administrative-related tasks in regards to the Ph.D. In February I was awarded a fee free extension for the year by my University as a result of some bumps (that couldn't be helped) that hindered my progress back in 2011/12. To have no monetary outgoings and a small amount of income via teaching has been such an amazing help to me and I'm so appreciative that my University Research Graduate School have been supportive. I think that this extension illustrates that working with people and being open about problems/concerns/hindrances is key to getting as much as you can out of the Ph.D. process. I definitely think I have learned to navigate red-tape a lot more during the Ph.D. and have certainly become a lot more calm and assertive in getting things done.

Writing-up is still hellish and I get frustrated at myself for not being able to work harder, better, faster. But along the way I've had a lot of advice from people who have been through this process who tell me to relax, enjoy this moment for what it is and just keep chipping away. I intend to.

My cat... Yes, she only has three legs :-(
This however means that I don't actually have anything relevant to post on here. No-one wants to hear the laments of a person slowly going mad ;-) I have begun to formulate plans about what I'd like to do post-PhD. but nothing is set in stone yet so I don't want to jinx myself by writing. I suppose it isn't too much of a spoiler to write how I've become increasingly interested in the research area of Plath, Ireland and Irish writers. I've been thinking a lot about Plath's time here in Ireland and her references to/teaching of Joyce, love for Yeats and the like. As a result of this interest, I've decided to dip my toe into the Plath/Irish writer pool and present a paper on Plath and Seamus Heaney (my blog post about his passing is here) at an upcoming conference celebrating Heaney's life, work and legacy at QUB. It's intimidating trying to write a paper about Heaney because I haven't ever written academically on Irish writing. Not since I completed A Levels in school! However, I hope that this paper will be a good first step and I'm excited to hear other speakers and learn at the conference. Frankly this event is the only "day out" I have on my entire spring/summer calendar so the thought of communicating with people other than my cat is just too exciting!

Here's my paper abstract and after the conference I'll be sure to link to my PowerPoint presentation for those interested.

‘I lie waiting’: Unearthing trauma and influence, Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath.

In his critical essay written in 1986 and entitled ‘The Indefatigable Hoof-taps: Sylvia Plath’, Seamus Heaney offers a detailed examination of the poetry of Plath that principally concentrates on how her strict and regimented early verse develops into the unique poetry that, ‘time and space had been waiting for’. However, despite his acknowledgement of Plath’s literary prowess and flashes of artistic brilliance, Heaney ultimately concludes that ‘this poet’s youth’ and the entanglement of biography and unadulterated rage that fills Plath’s later work, ‘overdraws its rights to our sympathy’ and irrevocably limits her writing. With this conclusion, Heaney appears to consciously disassociate his own writings and artistic philosophy from Plath’s poetic objectives and achievements.
          Taking into consideration Heaney’s personal friendship with Ted Hughes, this paper will offer a revised interpretation of ‘The Indefatigable Hoof-taps’ and contend that Heaney in fact shares an uniquely strong poetic connection and imaginative inner world with Plath. By devoting particular attention to the similarities found between Heaney’s North (1975) and Plath’s Ariel (1965), this paper will argue that the most striking commonality between these two poets is how their writings respond to and navigate traumatic events and the memories of trauma that permeate both of their lives. Tim Kendall remarks that Heaney and Plath are united in their use of a ‘higher consciousness’ that enables them to comprehend and document themes of trauma and conflict in poetry. Consequently, this paper will explore how Heaney and Plath both poeticise their deeply complicated relationship with instances of death and legacies of mass slaughter by juxtaposing blunt, visceral language with a poetic landscape that is filled with distances and space, bodies that ‘say nothing’ and mute corpses.
          Finally, this paper will make the case that Plath’s navigation of trauma informs and inspires Heaney’s narratives, and by unearthing this Plathian influence that has lain unnoticed by many critics, we may approach Heaney’s work from a new position.


Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi! Your paper abstract sounds fascinating and I'm certain the final product and presentation will be enlightening for those in the audience; and hope as well to see it some day published somewhere!

Good, good best of luck as you continue working on writing and re-writing. Don't go mad! It's not good for one's health.


Nick Smart said...

My cat has four legs and no tail. I initially thought perhaps we could construct a complete cat between us, but one reflection I think they are both probably perfect as they are.

carmelo valone said...

Hello There!

Loving this abstract, even if I am no Seamus expert. I'm a bit more of a Plath scholar myself. Please let us know how it goes and when you get published-would love to read. I am writing some of my own prose and creative work-essays I am attaching to some creative nonfiction around her life and poetry and my life and exploration of her life etc..if that even makes sense. It's my MFA thesis.

If you are interested it might be interesting to exchange ideas about Plathian influence.

Best & Cheers,