Thursday, August 28, 2008

So Much Material: A Rejoicing

Okay, after my lamentations of the last couple of days, it's fair that I say that I went to my first couple of classes yesterday, and they were amazing. They're going to be incredibly helpful both in my academic and my creative lives.

My "Rhetoric of Conspiracy" class--with Dr. Charles Stewart, a master in the field of rhetoric who's retiring in the spring, is going to have me thinking of interesting connections between conspiracy theories and mystery-detective narratives (which is the focus of my dissertation). And as a bonus, it's also going to have me thinking of lots of great plots for thrillers.

And then there's my interdisciplinary Archival Theory and Methods class. Beyond learning about archives and archival theory (which will be fun for me with all the library work I've got in my background), we're going to be actually helping local organizations--including the local West Lafayette library--to dig through some of their less organized collections of documents and paraphernalia and helping them with them. In the process, I should be able to:
  • figure out whether an archival analysis could yield what I was hoping for my dissertation;
  • build relationships with people who could advise me of important material that might be available, both for my dissertation and for other creative writing projects I'm working on;
  • help out with something that will potentially help those that use the collections in the future;
  • dig through archives of material that's bound to help me with current creative writing projects and inspire me with others.
Since some of my fiction ideas tend in the historical direction, I can see this course will be a treasure trove that will give me a better idea of how to move forward in those projects, if not actually giving me the information I need itself.

My third and final class--on historical-critical approaches to rhetorical study--is tonight. I expect that will pair well with the others, particularly with the archives class, to help me see one way I might be able to apply archival work in the comm. discipline. That will be helpful as well.

Yeah! It's going to be a good semester, bearing all sorts of interesting fruit, both foreseen and unforeseen.

Before I go, one more exciting bit of news: not that any set of rankings are that important, but it seems that Purdue's Communication dept. has been ranked as tied for #1 in the area of narrative. Since that's so central to what I'm doing here, it's nice to have an affirmation that I'm in the right place.

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