Uh-oh

Have I already mentioned that this is a horrible semester? This is a most horrible semester indeed. The introduction of the new degree programmes has resulted in chaos and confusion. The registration day alone was – oh my gosh – awful beyond words. It was like Ragnarök. (Without the giant snake.) (And, of course, nobody spoke Norse and the sun didn’t get eaten either.)

I’m trying to push my PhD thesis along, but sometimes it seems as if I were moving along at a snail’s pace. A few days ago it took me the whole afternoon to write one measly paragraph on metafiction. Duh.

The only good thing is that the people in my Gaskell seminar seem to be really motivated. At least lots of them participated in the in-class discussion on Monday. Yay! But on the other hand, the people in my history course (yes, it’s the “From the Ice Age to Maggie Thatcher in 9 Weeks” again) don’t seem to get my jokes. (Or they’re still exhausted after all the fighting at Ragnarök. Who knows?)

9 thoughts on “Uh-oh

  1. Laura Vivanco

    It was like Ragnarök. (Without the giant snake.) (And, of course, nobody spoke Norse and the sun didn’t get eaten either.)

    The only bit about Ragnarök that I can remember is that Loki will be sailing in a ship made from the toenails and fingernails of the dead, if their families hadn’t cut them before the burial. [Here it says it’s just fingernails, which is a bit of a relief.] Anyway, it was a detail which, when I first learned about it, suddenly made me feel very possessive about my fingernail clippings.

    I’m trying to push my PhD thesis along, but sometimes it seems as if I were moving along at a snail’s pace. A few days ago it took me the whole afternoon to write one measly paragraph on metafiction. Duh.

    I empathise very, very thoroughly. I’m trying to get my work to progress too, and it sometimes feels like trying to push a snail forwards with a fingernail clipping. I’ve also been writing a little bit about metafiction.

  2. Sandra Schwab

    Laura, I’m happy to report there were no fingerclippings involved in our course registration. (Lucky us!)

    And perhaps we should cheer up: after all, metafiction is not as bad as parody. (Or is it? And nobody has told me so far????)

  3. Laura Vivanco

    after all, metafiction is not as bad as parody. (Or is it? And nobody has told me so far????)

    Well, metafiction is related to, but not exactly the same as, intertextuality [e.g. see here].

    Hmm. [cheeky request] When you’ve finished defining parody and metafiction, can I get to read what you’ve written? [/cheeky request]

  4. Sandra Schwab

    Laura, for explaining “metafiction” in the dratted PhD thingie, I used Patricia Waugh’s definition. She says that metafiction is “fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality,” and, “although the term ‘metafiction’ might be new, the practice is as old (if not older) than the novel itself. […] [M]etafiction is a tendency or function inherent in all novels.”

    I used examples from Roald Dahl’s REVOLTING RHYMES to illustrate how metafiction might work.

    As to my definition of parody: you’ve already read it. It was part of that loooong, looooong chapter on Victorian Attacks and Parodies. 🙂

  5. Laura Vivanco

    I would bang my head against the desk, but I don’t think that would help. I meant metafiction and intertextuality, not metafiction and parody.

    So if you were going to define/had already defined intertextuality, then I would have been interested in the definition you ended up with.

    In the thing I was working on I decided to sidestep the issue of intertextuality by just using Waugh on metafiction. I was just trying to prove that there was something metafictional going on in the texts I was looking at, so I didn’t need really need or want to get bogged down in long explanations of the differences between the two in my own work. However, I did think it would be interesting to read what you’d written if you’d decided to tackle the issue.

  6. Sandra Schwab

    I don’t think I’ll explain intertextuality in depth anywhere.

    Hmm ….

    *Sandy gets a panic attack and freaks out over the question whether she’ll have to define intertextuality in length anywhere in the dratted PhD thingie*

    I used the Waugh definition of metafiction in the theory part for my revisionist fantasy chapter. If you like to, I can send this to you.

  7. Laura Vivanco

    *Sandy gets a panic attack and freaks out over the question whether she’ll have to define intertextuality in length anywhere in the dratted PhD thingie*

    Sorry! They can’t possibly expect you to define every single literary term in existence, so I expect as long as you define the one that’s useful for that chapter, it’ll be OK. I just started having a bit of a worry when you mentioned metafiction, because it suddenly made me wonder if I should have defined intertextuality in what I was working on. But after some deep breaths and a bit of thought, I decided that I didn’t need to.

    Do you want me to take a look at the chapter? I’m curious what a “revisionist fantasy” is. Does it include friendly dragons?

  8. Sandra Schwab

    It totally includes friendly dragons – and Kenneth Grahame’s Reluctant Dragon in particular. 🙂

    And it would be absolutely lovely if you could have a look at it! Thanks!

  9. Laura Vivanco

    I’m very fond of the Reluctant Dragon. He’s lovely. I’ve already had quite a dragonish day today because I was reading Amanda Quick’s Scandal, and the hero’s frequently compared to a dragon, so to paraphrase Mr Bennet, “If any other young dragons need to be checked over, send them in, for I am quite at leisure.”

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