So…I’m an English major again.
I was never officially not an English major. I was just planning on not completing my major and getting a minor. But when I was buying books for this semester, I was really sad that I wasn’t buying any English textbooks.
Plus I realized that after I get back from Florence, my Art History major will pretty much be completed. So why not?
The only thing I am anxious about is two senior theses to write in one semester. But my goal is to do most of my art research in Florence and over the summer.
One of the main reasons I thought I didn’t want to be an English major was because I didn’t feel as compelled to write about anything in literature as I did in art. But looking back at sophomore year, the literature classes I took weren’t really in my research interests. I took Jane Austen, Perspectives on Literature and British Literature after 1700. I loved all the classes, but Austen has never been what I wanted to research because I love her so much and my research interests very seldom overlap my personal interests. And it is hard to go back to big, survey classes like Brit Lit after being in small seminar classes.
But now I am in Medieval Romance which is amazing and wonderful. And I get to think about all my favorite things in literature (gender dynamics, voyeurism, religion) in the context of literature that is actually compelling to me.
I am also thinking about my senior seminar for English. I am thinking I am going to return to my Villette research from my first year class called “The Women Question in Victorian Literature.” Previous blog posts about this research are here, here and here. I focus on the protagonist’s, Lucy Snowe, relation to both theater and the Catholic Church as a voyeur to both and how her being a temporary voyeur in both situations allows for her to stop being a voyeur in her actual life.
I don’t know if I am going to stick with Villette or look at the continental Catholic Church in other Victorian novels. But that’s where I am starting!
And we’re going to do them backwards.
I’ve picked my research topic (and my title) for my Jane Austen paper about Emma. Here we go…”The Frivolity of Frank and the Frankness of Mr. Knightley.” I was pretty pleased with the title.
Behind that punny title is a look at the discourse between Frank and Emma and Mr. Knightley and Emma and what it reveals about the men in her life.
Also, here’s a look at my Halloween costume! I don’t know if I have ever been prouder (except maybe in relation to the title of my Jane Austen paper)
Pineapple-The Sassiest Fruit
Am I the only person who thinks that nepotism and tapestries sounds like an album name?
Maybe not. But still, they are the source of my interest in Pope Urban VIII. That’s right, folks, I have chosen my first research topic of the year (unless you count the research paper about Frank Churchill’s use of Latin derived words in Emma that I’ve been dying to write forever). The topic: The Barberini Tapestry Cycle and the Self and Familial Editing of Papal History in Roman Baroque Art.
The Barberini Tapestry Cycle is a self of three tapestries that depict the lives of three important Christian figures: Constantine, Jesus Christ and Pope Urban VIII. The first seven tapestries of Constantine were designed by Peter Paul Rubens for the House of Bourbon and then later given to Cardinal Francisco Barberini during a visit to France. Pietro da Cortona completed the Constantine cycle, replacing the French coat of arms with that of the Barberini Family.
The last two cycles, of Christ’s and Pope Urban’s lives, were completely Italian made. The choices of which Christ episodes were depicted were heavy on the Papal imagery, and Pope Urban’s life is shown as one of an intellectual pope who has brought relics to Rome.
Thing about Pope Urban VIII: not that great of a pope. He really liked Bernini and da Cortona and he really liked making his nephews Cardinals.
So I am looking at the iconography/events/spectacles represented in the Italian made tapestries to see how Urban VIII and his nephews edited the story of the Barberini pope, directly within the cycle of his life and indirectly with that of Constantine and Christ.
I’ve talked about how I write research papers before (that I believe in hand-written outlines so I see what I cross out and write in the margins) and this is something else I really believe in: playlists.
People makes playlists all the time for friends/dance parties/road trips. And most people I know listen to music in the background while they work. But I really like making a list of about twenty songs that have to do with my paper topic. Sure this is a lot of fun, but I promise it has a purpose!
Song are usually 3-5 minutes long, so it is really easy to get a “feel” for the song. A novel could take 3-5 days to read (assuming you aren’t doing much else), and even longer to understand. And sometimes getting into a combination of “research paper writing mood” and “appropriate for my topic” mood is difficult. So playlists are productive. I promise!
This spring I had two research papers to do and I made a playlist for each. My Villette paper about how Lucy Snowe plays a part on the stage and in Roman Catholicism in order to gain an active role in her own life. So this girly needs some empowerment!
“April Come She Will” Simon & Garfunkel
“Tennessee Rose” The Deep Vibration with Gillian Welch
“People Got a Lotta Nerve” Neko Case
“New Slang” The Shins
“O Mio Babbino Caro” (I watched A Room with a View a lot this semester. But it had relevance. Lucy Snowe goes to continental Europe (read: Catholic Europe) to develop herself beyond the Protestant constructs, just like Lucy Honeychurch.)
“O Valencia” The Decemberists
I basically played these seven songs and Passion Pit’s album Manners on a loop until I finished my paper.
I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been so busy with research and Latin conventions. The crazy college life is what I am living.
Research in Victorian Literature is going really well, I’m looking at how Catholicism and Theater are related in Villette as catalysts for Lucy Snowe, the heroine going from a passive audience member in her own life to the lead character. In Modern Poetry I switched back to Auden after too much research that resulted in nothing for Mina Loy. Now I am looking at the combination of Christian vs. Pagan images in “In Sickness and In Health” by Auden and how it relates to Marriage v. Carnal Love argument.
Also, I literally just got back from the Eta Sigma Phi (National Latin Honor Society) Convention. Mostly it was a lot of annoying, seemingly pointless, bureaucratic meetings, but I did go to a really cool seminar about looking at modern Poetry in the context of Classical works.
Well, I’m off to go write my research proposals.
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