What The Rest Of Summer Means For Me

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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 IMG_6199-18his 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 Gilmore IMG_5114-22with 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.

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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.

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[photos from my Vermont home and my College campus]

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Aunt Sylvia says:

    Best wishes Anna for a splendidly FULL and FUN summer at Hope :- ) Really loved the last photo shoots in VT … you as photographer AND you as photographed! Love, Aunt Sylvia

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    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      Thanks, Aunt Sylvia! I think these next two months will definitely be both full and fun.

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  2. Churl says:

    Sounds kind of fabulous! Don’t know Girard as well as I would like, but as a scholar on the theological reception history of Job (albeit a much earlier history – St. Gregory the Great etc.), I really like his piece on Job. If you haven’t yet, do check out Ralph Wood’s Gospel According to Tolkien. The title is abysmal and makes the book sound far more trite than it is, but (if I recall correctly – it’s been a while) his argument is that LOTR is a direct counter to what Pope Saint John Paul II identified as the modern culture of death. Can’t recall whether he uses Girard, but Wood is friendly and I imagine would be interested in a conversation about it.

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  3. Churl says:

    Oh and while you’re doing that, consider if there might be some part of it you can present at the Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo – there are generally a few sessions on Tolkien. Don’t know the Kazoo Tolkien people myself – the sessions I am facilitating are with the Early Proverb Society – but people at Kazoo are usually lovely.

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    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      I’m still rather new to Girard – I’d like to think I have a fair understanding of his basic ideas, but I’ve been realizing, as I read more of his work in preparation for my research, that I really have very little idea about it all. I’m excited and eager to learn, over these next two months of summer, but it’s also a rather daunting prospect. The book sounds intriguing – I’ll be sure to look it up. Thank you for the suggestion!
      I went to the Congress on Medieval Studies in 2014, with my roommate and some other people from college, and had an absolutely phenomenal time. I’m really hoping to be able to go again next year – the Tolkien sessions were amazing, and it was so inspiring to be surrounded by so many people who genuinely cared about topics I too am interested in. It felt a bit like coming home. I don’t know about presenting, though – I definitely don’t feel qualified for that, though maybe by the end of the year I’ll have gathered enough knowledge and understanding to feel a bit more confident.

      Liked by 1 person

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