Hello world! And my friends on all the outlying islands of ignorance!

Hello World!

I don’t think so. This (and I’m waving my arms right now) is meant to be a work log. This is not to say it’s not going to be personal – by all means, my personal life and my work have become synonyms a while ago, so inevitably they will be mingling in this rhetorical petri dish.

I am a literary scholar, as if the world hadn’t enough of our kind – I know, we are the the next best thing to lawyers in terms of too many. I am also a Ph.D student, at the University of Bamberg, a city in Southern Germany, a little too big to qualify as a hamlet, though that’s what it feels like. Oh yeah, 10 breweries for a population of just about 70.000 make it the brewery capital of the world; I’m not so sure I would want to take pride in that – nevertheless it tends to have a distinct influence on the pastime arrangements of students, of course.
I’m an English Ph.D student, a part time English teacher and a soon-to-be adjunct at my alma mater. Sound great? Or – sound like plenty of underpaid work? I tend to think my work has some kind of import, and my hopes feed on that thought: I won’t be an adjunct forever, or even for very long. Period.

So. My dissertation is all it takes to account for the title of this here blog – I’m working on the fiction of American fantasist HP Lovecraft, of all people. I won’t explain my fascination for the guy’s prose. It’s the usual discovered him as a kid and couldn’t dump the book before it charmed me-crap at the bottom of so many authorial attractions. I am not a Lovecraft scholar in any sense that implies a sympathy for Lovecraft scholarship, as it is. I am at odds with much of Lovecraft scholarship. This, I’m afraid, will be one of the plot lines here.

Lovecraft’s fiction is one of my scholarly interests, and not necessarily by far the most important one. To add a few names to the bucket of interests: Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and John Dos Passos. These are floating around pretty easily, so let me add a geographical component: the West and its literatures. And, finally, to round it off, a dose of more generical terms: gothic and apocalyptic, or more pointedly, gothic apocalypse.

The latter is driving my dissertation – Providence and Apocalypse. I’m trying to relate Lovecraft’s work (needless to say, the man was a Providence native, and that is so obvious and well-known to reduce any pun the title may have contained to something you can easily nod off) to the tradition of American apocalyptic, and this gives me the chance to acquaint him with bedfellows that I’ve always wanted to add to that particular scene, namely the Puritan elite, ranging from the Cotton gang to Jonathan Edwards. I was taken in by the opportunities the Puritans and their heirs (and I subsume guys like Hawthorne and Melville in a very broad sweep here) hold for literary scholars like me.

So far. I’m doing the dissertation routine, that is, I do a lot of reading work, and not always do brilliant insights hit me on an hourly schedule. I’ll nevertheless see to regular updates, several times a week. This should be vague enough not to make too much of a promise – to…myself, to begin with.

PS: Shoggoths, of course, are Lovecraft’s attempt to create real, genuine gothic monsters (Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and their likes are, by all means, more aliens than monsters) – not quite as influential as Dracula or Frankenstein’s monster, but still powerful enough to sustain any interpretation – they encode Lovecraft’s views on race as well as his repressed sexuality, and so on. I’ve always thought of them as oversized (by a billion times) spermatazoa, white, primal, and as alluring as a gargantuan jelly fish.