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About ecogoth

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  • Interests
    twentieth century american lit, ecocriticism, & hegelian dialectics
  • Application Season
    2020 Fall
  • Program
    English PhD

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  1. In short, I think good academic writing already is accessible writing, like with Mari Ruti or Kathleen Stewart. I'm also not trying to defend jargon here (because I think it's often a transparent attempt to try to justify itself academically) - but I do think you risk a lot in either decontextualizing or mistranslating certain terms. For Butler, 'performativity' comes about in her work as a reference to ordinary language theorist J.L. Austin's notion of "performative utterances." While many now misread Butler's performativity to mean something for identity like putting on play as a chosen, costumed role - Austin actually meant it in the sense of words "performing" the tasks they describe to do ("I marry you," "I beg you," "I warn you," as opposed to failed performative utterances like "I seduce you," which cannot enact that which it describes in just its declaration). The reduction of it in common dialogue has (I think) led to a lot of misunderstanding towards gender and sexual identities as mere character performances which we can choose to do or not. Below is a screenshot of Butler's response towards one journalist who recently used the decontextualized term in their writing and thereby changed its meaning. As for the Zizek point tiredderridean brings up, I think their point is that not all theory makes for good political praxis. Zizek's Hegelian approach often ends with him saying we should "opt out" of false oppositions, and he even provides Melville's Barlteby (of "I would prefer not to" scrivener story fame) as an exemplary political figure in one of his theoretical works. That being said, I love Zizek and I love Bartleby - and I do believe in the political purpose of literature as well. I think we ultimately just need to be careful about what it is that we consider our politics, if that makes sense. Summarizing texts itself isn't democratic - encouraging and enabling others to not only engage with texts, but to enter into dialogues themselves can be. (Shoutout to my guy, Walter Benjamin.)
  2. From my understanding of it, the statement of purpose serves as sort of a litmus test for an application committee to be able to determine if you can actually talk the talk. By this, I mean that it's important to be able to identify yourself as a scholar in how you would fit into a department as well as your scholarship in how a department could influence it. I'm also an applicant, and I wrote my current SoP with an emphasis on specific research goals in how they build upon my master's thesis. For reference, I'm interested in ecocriticism in 20th century American lit.
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