I leave tomorrow (Sunday) morning, at o-dark-thirty, to begin the fourteen hour drive to College. Thankfully, I am not going to be actually doing the driving – my wonderful father is giving up half his weekend to take me. I’ll be spending the rest of summer at School, doing research and, hopefully, not getting completely burnt out when it comes to academia. I also plan to have fun – my school is, after all, a short drive from Lake Michigan, and I’ll be living with one of the most wonderful people I know.
My roommate Rebecca, my advisor Dr. G, and I are going to be working together on a research project – or rather, projects, as we each have individual topics and goals we are pursuing this summer. However, the research we are doing is all pretty closely related, so we’ll be working together. Which is not a little exciting. Alright, understatement. I’m really, really looking forward to working with these people whom I respect and admire so much.
What exactly am I going to be researching, though, and what will I get out of this? Glad you asked. I shall finish the summer with an enormous paper of an unspecified length, which will showcase the research I will have done for the past two months. I will be working with Tolkien’s legendarium (of course) and René Girard’s mimetic theory. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, I direct you to Rebecca’s blog/website, devoted to her own work with mimetic theory in relation to Welsh myth and Tolkien’s theory of Fairy Stories. She has a lovely run-down of mimetic theory there. I will be applying this theory to Tolkien’s works (including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and also, I hope, The Silmarillion), and uncovering and analyzing the ways in which mimeticism and Girard’s scapegoat mechanism appear in these stories. That’s about as much as I know, right now – I am sure the research will take off in its own, more focused, direction once I get into it. I will very much be learning as I go.
I will also be attending the COV&R conference – the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, which is, to quote their website, “an international association of scholars…dedicated to the exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard‘s mimetic model of the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture” (source). Yep. Neat stuff. Or so I hope – I can’t help feeling as though the vast majority of the conference experience is going to go way over my head. I am far from confident in my small knowledge of literary theory.
I’m excited to see campus in the summer – I expect it to be beautiful and stiflingly hot. I am very, very excited to see my roommate again – it’s been seven months, give or take a few weeks, as she studied abroad this past semester. In other words, it’s been far, far too long. I am glad to be going back now. But there are still many, many things I haven’t done at home that I wanted to, and it’s hard to say goodbye two months earlier than usual. I took my last walk through the Woods across the road this evening, up by the Old Meadow, smelling of raspberry canes, warm in the twilight. We went up to the top of Albert’s Field, next to ours, to watch the mountains, for a while, turning dusky and soft beneath the most fragile pink of sunset-cloud. Tonight is my last in my own bed – my last night sleeping on the sill of an open window, with all the sounds of a country night outside, and the air tasting of moonlight and dew and wild mint. That’s what I’ll miss the most – lying awake and watching the night, feeling it pass on stealthy shadow-feet, hearing the voice of the Poplar tree by the driveway, watching the fireflies, and everything soaked and dripping in the smell of fresh-cut hay.
One doesn’t get that on a city college campus. It makes me terribly sad to think of all the people I know at school who’ve never watched a deep country night.
[photos from my Vermont home and my College campus]