some ideas from NCUR

I keep telling myself that I will have the time and energy to write once the semester is over. Please let it be so!

NCUR is over, thank goodness. Yet as exhausting and stressful as the preparation was, I enjoyed the experience. Some good student presentations, posters, and plenary sessions. I took Jake out of school to hear Mario Capecchi speak on Thursday. The talk was okay, but I think Jake enjoyed the posters and grad fair more. Well, and just getting out of school for the morning. I enjoyed having a pal for a while 😉

I thought Anne Fadiman’s talk was more interesting though. She described her writing experience–took her 8 years to write her book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down–and described herself as an “edge species,” such as a skunk, a literary skunk. I like this analogy to that in-between position, both participating and observing, inside and outside. I remembered what drew me to the autobiographies I analyzed for my dissertation, and it was this quality: all of the women writers occupied a liminal space, functioning–or at least wishing to function as–bridges between cultures, go-betweens, purveyors of one culture’s essence (authenticity) to another’s. So I began to think of what I could do for my next project, the one I’ve been spinning my wheels on since my sabbatical (now almost four years ago). Here are some ideas:

  • a cultural history of alcohol ~mid-late 20th century
  • a combination of sociology, psychology, memoir, stories (AA, Al-Anon), literature
  • a literary survey of alcohol and addiction

But I need to start somewhere and start small. Where is will that be? I’m not sure I can do the Moby Dick/fire-fighting story, though I’ll give it a shot first. In the meantime, I want to gather notes, read more stuff. I love the research aspect, much more than the writing. That’s always been my problem.

About BJ

living the dream in northern Utah
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2 Responses to some ideas from NCUR

  1. I didn’t get a chance to check out NCUR, but I saw the floods of students on campus. 🙂
    I love the last two idea bullets! There have been quite a few brilliant memoirs about alcohol and addiction in recent years – “Wishful Drinking” by Carrie Fisher, “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls, and “Dry” by Augusten Burroughs come to mind – that you’d have so much to work with.
    Have you read “Getting Better” by Nan Robertson? According to reviews, it looks like a great memoir/historical overview of AA and the addiction recovery industry.
    I think you should roll with it. 500 words a day is just about one single-spaced page. You already have one person who would read it.


  2. bjmcshane says:

    thanks Mike.I’ll have to check out Nan Robertson’s book. sounds interesting.


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