Tag Archives: English

Happy Birthday, Ian Fleming!

You probably can associate “Ian Fleming” with “James Bond.” At very least you could nod and pretend you knew it when I tell you he’s the author.

What else do you know about the creator of our famed British spy? I’ve recently realized I know very little about the man, so I added a biography to my reading queue. But here are some things I know, that you should, too.

  • He owned a house in Jamaica, which he named Goldeneye.
  • He was only 56 when he died. That was just two years after the first time Bond hit the big screen. Two of his Bond works were published posthumously.
  • He wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
  • Bow ties were his embellishment of choice.
  • JKF was a particular fan of Fleming.
  • He was a journalist, stockbroker, and Navy man.
  • He was born on this date in 1908.

Happy Birthday, Ian!

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a passion revived

It’s easy to blame grad school–I left unsure, angry, and defeated–but at some point, I stopped caring about English. Sure, Dickens’ 200th was a big deal, but other than DG book club, I’ve hardly laid a finger on literature, and certainly not on the broader specs of English.

That was, until, I got all nostalgic when my friends graduated from Tech. (Seriously, way to fucking go, guys. You are amazing.) I went into grad school thinking about the funny graduation robes and how sweet it would be to walk across that stage with a higher degree. That obviously didn’t happen. In the only way I could think to hold on to that dream, I signed up for ebay and started watching books. James Bond. Wilkie Collins. James Thomson. BHG.

Then I bid on one.

It arrived today.




This book. THIS BOOK. This book, right here, was almost the entirety of my existence at Texas Tech. I wrote a textual history on it for two classes. I earned a B grade in the other class (actually related to my specialization) because of this book. I didn’t sleep, drank wine at 5 am, ate a shitty Sonic breakfast, and borrowed books from east coast libraries because of this book.

And I can’t believe how fucking awesome I feel to own it. It’s like I bought a little piece of my soul back. Mostly because that book actually did suck the life out of me, but also because of how excited I am to have it on my bookshelf. I researched the holy hell out of this book. I invested a lot of myself and my learning experience at Tech in this book. And it was amazing. I forgot how much I love research, publication histories, and old books in general.  And without the politics, crappy professors, sleep-deprived nights and emotional breakdowns tainting my views, I actually remember the parts of English that made me want to go to grad school.

This book arrived right on the heels of a lengthy conversation with my teacher friend. We talked for two hours about high school English curriculum, dystopian lit, engaging students, teaching proper research methods, and teaching, learning, and differentiating between journalistic writing and English scholarly writing.

Kristin thinks I’d be a great AP English teacher. I don’t know, I have a pretty inappropriate sense of humor and a potty mouth. But I do know that today I geeked out like only an English nerd can. And it feels great to be back.

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Observations on Tech: English Building

Here I sit, in the Digital Humanities Lab.

I’m avoiding my work at all costs, and I thought perhaps this was the best time to show you my second home. Admittedly, I hate leaving my apartment (heck, I’m not to keen about leaving my bed, half the time) but I find away to make it to the English + Philosophy Building five days a week. I have a key to the building and most of the rooms, a key to an office I’ve never used, and a code for the lab. A little cold, but I’m sure there are worse places I could spend my time.

I generally avoid looking like a tourist on campus, so I don’t have any glamour shots of the place. Instead, I ripped this one off a chess website so you could imagine my daily grandeur.

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First: Part Deux

Aids! Aids, aids, aids!

In an attempt to thwart the feeling of impending idiocy mentioned in my last post, I made impulse buys at Barnes and Noble. These included a snazzy new 2011 planner–one that doesn’t have monthly overviews, so I’m not sure how I’ll live–and The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism (a name that might ring a bell), and The Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory.

I’ve talked about this a lot, but I’m not sure I’ve blogged: I am beyond terrified of critical theory and terms. I took one class at Drake that focused on Franz Kafka and theory. I retained nothing from it except the words Deleuze and Guattari. I spoke with the TTU graduate studies director, incoming graduate students, and professors at Drake about my absolute fear and inexperience when it comes to theory, but no one could really stomp my insecurities. I mean, I truthfully have no nook in my brain secretly storing this information. Freud is all I have, which is because he talked about sex, and sex facts are stored in my “Sex and Sex Music” compartment. My underdeveloped cranial lobes (whichever ones are supposed to house this insipid information) are embarrassing and uncomfortable, not to mention possibly detrimental in the classroom.

So, I got all preemptive and snagged some perfect-bound knowledge to grace my bookshelves. You know, a little enlightened reading.

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A Reader’s Digest

I am going off to school in roughly three months. Three months. That’s both a long time and no time at all. It’s plenty of time for me to tackle my before-leaving TDL, and plenty of time for me to hang with all my friends here, but not enough time to tackle the stack of books I’ve had growing in my room this year. A lot of these are books I’ve convinced myself I need to read before grad school. The others are ones I want to read because I won’t have time once I’m there. And if the stack is already this big, how big can we anticipate it to be in two years? Ah!

A Study in Scarlet, Doyle
The Sign of Four, Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle
The Valley of Fear, Doyle
Bar Book, Sheehan
Esther Waters, Moore
David Copperfield,  Dickens
Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Hardy
Middlemarch, Eliot
The Mill on the Floss, Eliot
Vanity Fair, Thackery *
Bleak House, Dickens
The Woman in White, Collins
The Lazy Tour of Two Apprentices, Dickens + Collins
Armadale, Collins
Villette, Bronte
Don Juan, Byron *
Paradise Lost, Milton
Little Dorrit, Dickens
Persuasion, Austen
Mansfield Park, Austen
The Crimson Petal and the White, Faber
Rabbit Heart, Hitchcock
My Sister’s Keeper, Picoult
Olive Kitteridge, Strout
The Shadow of the Wind, Zafon
Water for Elephants, Gruen
The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
Blind Side, Coulter
Tipping the Velvet, Waters
Affinity, Waters
Dubliners, Joyce
Three Novels, Beckett
The Law of Dreams, Behrens
Odyssey, Homer
The Reverend Guppy’s Aquarium, Dodd
The Wild Irish, Maxwell
Retribution, Hoffman
We All Went to Paris, Longstreet
The Mysteries of Udolpho *

I have this dreams of being able to cross out all of these before school starts. However, realism is my default, so I’m basically posting ambitions that will only be partially realized. Eh, oh well. Publicly using strikethrough will hopefully bully me into making it through most of the list. Edit: 1. An asterisk means I need to read the book for next semester, too. Bonus! 2. Strikethrough won’t work! I’ve tried a million times. So, I’m now using bold to highlight my finished reads.


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Lubbock, A Retraction

I feel the need to reconcile Lubbock Day 1.

Going on this visit opened a few personal English daemons. I’ve had a rather untraditional literature experience at Drake. Because of that, I haven’t read ‘classics’ like Paradise Lost, Leaves of Grass… seriously I could go on for days but I don’t know WHAT I haven’t read. That’s also the problem. Not to mention I don’t know jack about theory or time periods. Basically, I took four classes that centered around British Lit, and I loved them so I decided to keep going with school. But that makes it really hard to feel up-to-par with students who’ve read poetry and know authors by names and periods. Edwardian period? Who even was Edward?

It was rough. Tough. Frustrating, but by the end of the trip I loved it. All of it. Sure, I’m not thrilled about Texas. I curse too much, drink too much, and glare too much to be there. But it’s not THAT bad. The campus is gorgeous, it has a lazy river, and the town isn’t hopeless. Besides, I’ll be studying.

As for the academic part, Texas Tech has some absofuckinglutelyamazing things in store for their English department. They are digitizing all of Dickens’ Household Words and All The Year Round. Do you know what this means? An entirely searchable database for people who are doing research in that period. Okay, if you still don’t get it–it’s awesome. A lifesaver. SO fucking cool (yes, this is where my geek shows). Plus, the university itself is hella supportive of the English department, and the program has professional development curriculum that is second-to-none.

And then there are the people. I interacted with people who turned me off, yes. But there were lots of people I really, truly enjoyed. They’re intelligent, nice, funny, and supportive of everyone’s interests and goals. We had a lot of fun together, and that helped make TTU real. I can see myself with these other MA applicants that I’ll be working side-by-side with. And I can see myself with the faculty who are amazingly supportive of us and all of their students.

The director of graduate studies, who specializes in my field, sat down with me for an hour to discuss my concerns and my ambitions. So, it doesn’t matter that I haven’t read Matthew Arnold. There’s plenty of time for me to brush up. He even told me what editions of books to buy (Norton Critical, Oxford World Classic, or Penguin. Yep, still a nerd). I got a reading list that goes on for months, and I even consulted with my peers about what theory books can help an uninformed girl crash-course before grad school. This is awesome.

I started with hate, and ended with love. I think that means I like it. About this time next month, I just might be a Raider.

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Well, hey there West Coast, thanks for joining the running in the Grad School Bonanza 2010! Welcome, Washington State University. The school has offered me a Teaching Assistantship, full tuition waiver, and a stipend for books and supplies. Fabulous. Trouble is, the school isn’t program specific, so I am a lot less interested in it. Not that I wouldn’t be interested in living in the gorgeous state. Once I get this trip to Texas Tech out of the way, I’ll feel a lot better about declining schools with less specific programs.

With six still left to go, I’m three for three.


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The Wait Is Over

Not like I was really holding my breath, but I’ve been wondering how my Subject GRE for Literature in English turned out. Kind of obsessively checking the mailbox since Saturday, when I realized the scores had been “sent” to Drake.

Score: 530
% Below: 44
Correct: 124, Incorrect: 53, Unanswered: 53
Formula Score: 111

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what any of that actually means. It’s not good, though. Scores range from 200-990. Most schools I was interested in want a 600. The average score is 541.

I feel very mediocre. Below average. Unimpressive. Just another kid avoiding the real world through advanced education.

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WAGW: Careers

This is maybe the toughest question I have to answer, and it can’t be done today.

I am going to grad school for two reasons: I love literature, and there are no job prospects for me. I think it’s more of the latter than the former. See, if I had to choose between a magazine job and going to grad school, I would most likely pick the job. Despite my position as bitch-work-for-hire in the magazine world, I really like it. I enjoy keeping up with the PR for our mag, going on photo shoots, and of course, writing. If I could get a salary and benefits to do it? There’d be no stopping me.

But I’m not getting those jobs, and I’m not going to just sit on my ass and hope that things will change. Instead, I’m going back to the one constant in my life: school. Grad school will get me a current address outside Iowa, and force me to really live on my own for the first time in my life–which is reason enough to get my application on. But the question always is: what then? After one or two years in a master’s program, what do you want to do?

The answer: I don’t know. And damn it, I don’t have to, either! When I’m done, all I will be out is a large sum of money. But what I’m hoping to have, in return, is an idea of how to answer the question. Will I want to teach? Will I want to get a Ph.D? Will I go running back to magazines? Will I find myself at a literary journal (the best of both worlds)? Will I be selling Rosetta Stone at the mall?

I guess I’m answering a question with more questions, but I’ll have the answers eventually. For now, I’m hoping grad school will give me a little bit more of a glimpse into my future–and I’ll be crossing my fingers that, in the meantime, the freelance writing doesn’t have to end with a geographic relocation.

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Pomp and Circumstance

Today I walked across the stage, Summa Cum Laude, and landed myself a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. I officially completed four years of schooling at a fabulous private university and majored in Magazines and English, and minored in Sociology. I received departmental honors for both schools, and was acknowledged for my numerous other things.

I don’t have a job, I’m intimidated by the grad school requirements, and I don’t know what’s in store for the remainder of my life…

But I’m ready. I am so ready.

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