Last spring, I had perhaps the most influential class of my academic life. The astounding and fabulous Will Banks taught me how to be part of the academic conversation- how to have the courage to present my ideas at scholarly conferences, how to post to list-servs, how to get my name out. More than anything, he gave me the confidence to believe that I had something important to say. A year later, he is still here, offering congrats and support.
This all started three years ago, with Paradise Lost in Context with Jeffrey Shoulson. Never has a Bread Loaf class had a bigger impact. It was because of that class that I became obsessed with my current topic- Milton. And yet, as I look back on the last few years, I realize that there have been steps along the way that have focused my obsession to laser exactness. It may have started with Shoulson's class, but narrowing the scope happened with Will's class. And last summer, a class on Southwestern Literature and Film of all things, with Jesse Aleman seemed to lock everything into place. It was there that I was introduced to how folkloric figures can function in literature, and how they can also be seen in big, wide world.
And so that has become my focus. I realize as I just reread my dissertation outline here, that the bones and hints of it were there all along. An examination of the folkloric figure of Satan in British literature, from the beginning and culminating with Milton's portrayal. Because honestly, we have never progressed past his portrayal.
So, the latest steps in my Milton addiction this year have been:
- chairing a panel at SAMLA called Milton and Paradise Lost's Legacy. Presenting a paper on this panel, "Milton's Satan as Horror Movie Icon". Guess I should get started on that huh? Currently it's just scribbles on scraps from last year's SAMLA
- submitting my Loki and Satan paper to the John Milton Conference in Murfreesboro, TN in October. Fingers crossed on that, because it is the big time.
- revising my SAMLA paper from last year about the 1688 illustrations into article form so I can submit it to Milton Quarterly. It's finished, although I need to revise the citations per MLA Guide for Scholarly Publication (who knew there was a difference?)
So that's the update on my Milton obsession. Still obsessed. I figure I'll continue to be obsessed. It's hard to believe that this has been in my head for three years now, quite a lot of research, writing, talking about Milton. One would think the brain worm would have worked it's way out by now, or that I'd be bored or sick of the topic, but no sign of that.
I suppose that's a good sign that I've chosen a good field!