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Old 02-16-2008, 03:56 PM   #1
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More master's thesis musings

So last semester I came up with a few really strong papers. I earned a 4.0 for my first semester in graduate school, and frankly for the first time ever. The two major papers I worked on treated W.B. Yeats's "The Circus Animals' Desertion" and the second was on latent homosexuality in twentieth century Irish novels.

If you haven't figured it out yet, my primary interest is twentieth century Irish literature. The Yeats paper was fun, because I looked at some recent dissertations treating Yeats's greater European influences. Namely, his conceptualization of the soul as influenced by Dante and his appropriation of Shakespeare to both assert his dual heritage and evoke sympathy for the Irish people by relating them to the peasants of Shakespeare's day. He borrows a lot of Shakespearean conventions, as well as classical ones, in "On Baile's Strand," which is one of the works reflected upon in "Circus Animals. . ." The other two, "The Countess Kathleen" and "The Wanderings of Oisin," draw on Irish mythology and folk tales, but each presents a call to cultural, rather than military or political, nationalism in its own way.

This was fun, but I don't really know if I could expand it.

The other one I could have a field day with. I looked at Stoker's Dracula, Kate O'Brien's Land of Spices, and Colm Toibin's The Master and studied the authors' presentation of repressed sexuality, both explicit and implicit in these novels. I could easily expand this to include more novels and authors, or I could look at plays, etc. I'm not sure how this particular instructor feels about this, though, as he's big on the Master's thesis being entirely new work.

So here I am in semester number 2, no closer to a concrete idea. I'm taking Three Centuries of American Poetry and The Romantics, which aren't really helpful to me in my interests. I am also, however, taking "The Structure of the English Language," which is a phonetics/grammar class in which we are to apply phonological theory to the interpretation of literature. Well, I'm considering Brendan Behan's "The Quare Fellow," and if it works well, I may take a linguistic approach to his (very small) body of works. I was looking for publications on Behan in the library today, and I could find no articles more recent than the late 1980s and only one book, a biography, in as much time. So it seems like this is a pretty open field compared to Yeats or Joyce, or even Sean O' Casey.

Does it seem reasonable?

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Old 02-16-2008, 04:33 PM   #2
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Yeah. It sounds interesting. :missescollege:

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Old 02-17-2008, 10:52 PM   #3
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Don't know, hated linguistics (not even sure I've spelled it right)
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:19 PM   #4
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Joyce was homosexical?
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:58 PM   #5
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I just love how many English majors we have on this forum.
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:22 AM   #6
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I'm not sure you can strictly do phonetics and apply it to Behan. Im real into Brendan Behan, read all of his works, and it seems more to me that the phonetics in 20th c Irish literature is loosely baseed upon Irish slang, Irish language which is deeply phonetic (rarely things sound the same way they are spelled). And then there's the whole thing of the Irish fucking with the English language, breaking words up based on how they sound, in order to get back at their supressors, which is I think at least where writers like Joyce and Behan get a lot of their play on words in their works.

Actually now that I think about it, since you are doing a master's thesis, you can make the individual chapters based upon the intricacies of the way you mean 'phonetics' and where the voice part of speech interacts with the written parts of speech. There is an inherent interest in that I always though t when you look at playwrights, like Behan. And the Irish have produced an emormous amount of playwrights as compared to striclty novelists. There's the play that's written but it's meant to be acted out, you know?
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:06 AM   #7
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Yeah, as I said, it's incredibly vague and amorphous right now. At the very least, I think I can get a paper out for the linguistics class and let the research I'm doing take me elsewhere. I was just re-reading "The Quare Fellow" last night, and I think it had to be driving my fiancee crazy because I was laughing out loud and grimacing in equal measures. It's such a powerful play, and there's just something about Warder Regan that I love.

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