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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Posts Tagged “reading”

I’m not so cool

Sometimes, you want to go to Indy’s First Fridays event. Sometimes, open art galleries and talk and free humus and grapes are really cool. Sometimes witty banter, discussions of hipster, and mock battles are really cool as well. Sometimes, strolling down the sidewalks and admiring the architecture, the cupcakes in the bakery windows, and the random scupltures made out of tires is stupendously cool.

And sometimes, at the end of it all, you find yourself down in the dumps instead of uplifted, ready for a shower and sleep instead of a board game night, wanting to write about hybridized nations and postcolonialism rather than relax with friends.

Is this weird? Have I been spending too much time working, that I kind of, in a little way, prefer Anglo-Celtic writings to complimentary crackers, the quiet of an English paper finally unlocking itself beneath my fingers to the raucous wind in my hair, music in my ears, sun in my face? This is definitely not the usual sequencing, and I’m sure this pensive mood will pass.

Tomorrow we are working downtown with the Keep Indianapolis Beautiful project, which I’m looking forward to doing. This is a busy weekend, with several other events in the works. Here’s to a more energetic Saturday!

Off to chill with Jude the Obscure. That’s a good compromise, isn’t it?

Snapshot: Central Library

Here are some as-yet-unshared pictures from my visit to the Central Library in Indianapolis. Aka, the Library of Dreams and Wonder.

I love to read. If my blog archives had not been cruelly ravaged/deleted (still in mourning), I would direct you to the approximately twenty books I reviewed at the end of last summer. This year has hit me particularly hard with reading for classes, so I haven’t had so much time for fun books.

I blame physics class, my long Irish literature paper, and the spring’s twenty-two credits hours and the nine credits of English class included in that count. I blame Emily Dickinson and the Romantic poets and Herman Melville and the giant Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism and Theory I read at night and over breakfasts.

Not that literary theory isn’t fun. I love throwing around words/phrases like “hermeneutical,” “accomplished nihilist,” and “always already.” It just tends to take me a good hour or so of research to understand the basic outline of the concepts used to describe lit theory. I love the wacked-out, odd-ball things text does. I don’t so much love the headache of arriving at that conclusion. (Well, sometimes. If I understand the process, it’s wonderful.)

As I read more and more, the process becomes easier. That is to say, I don’t have to stop and decipher all those “hermeneutical,” “binary opposition,” “signifier,” and “de Manian” references.

Still, I miss quick jaunts in and out of BookWorld à la Fforde (finished One of Our Thursday is Missing–very good, not his best work, but I still read into the night to finish it). During the year, I managed to make time for a visit to Indianapolis’ huge-normous Central Library. Consider proximity to the Library of Dreams and Wonder one of the perks of attending Butler University. Pictures, commence:

The main lobby/atrium

It's HUGE!

Chilling in the sweet chairs in the kids' section.

Farewell, Diana

Admist all the basketball excitement, I read that Diana Wynne Jones passed away yesterday after her prolonged battle with cancer. She has long been one of my favorite authors, with her wit, intelligence, faith in her younger readership, wry pragmatism, and brilliant writing.

I remember reading DWJ in school, on my back porch, on airplanes. I read to myself, laughed myself to tears; I read to my sisters, joked about butter pies and Fantasyland’s lack of socks. I struggled to make sense of Hexwood and Fire and Hemlock; I devoured Howl’s Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and all the Chrestomanci books. Who could forget the antics of Deep Secret or Year of the Griffin? Her situational humor, her sparkling adjectives, her inventive and deconstructive clichés…

Her accolades and awards include two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors, the Karl Edward Wagner Award for having a significant impact on the field of fantasy literature, and the World Fantasy Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

It is an odd thing to be moved to tears while the rest of the state explodes in basketball-related joy. Outside my window, horns and chants and laughter. Inside, only a desperate grief, a heavy emptiness for that great lady of literature.

The book/blog/writing world demonstrates an outpouring of grief and sympathy for DWJ’s family. What a testament to one of literature’s best and brightest. Shine on, Diana. You will be missed.

Butler Summer Institute

Quite a while back, at the beginning of fall semester, I met with my Irish Lit professor to discuss topics for the long paper I was going to write. I initially suggested a comparison of Dylan Thomas’ Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Both works are written in English by authors who have strong ties to particular nations that have their own languages: Thomas is Welsh and Joyce is Irish.

Here are the two texts I want to compare. Both narrators also write in English, since the works are semi-autobiographical. I want to examine the presentation of the Welsh and Irish languages in the two works and connect this presentation to the authors’ English-language writing. I hope to argue that Thomas and Joyce continue to participate in the Celtic literary heritage–especially as modern bards–though they write in English.

The class for which I first proposed this project was Contemporary Irish Literature, but I really am interested in Ireland’s neighbor across the Irish Sea–Wales. I’ve been learning Welsh on my own since I was a senior in high school. Dw i ddim yn gallu saraid Cymraeg, ond dw i’n mynd trio wneud e!

My professor liked my idea, but neither Young Dog nor Young Man was on the reading list for the class. She suggested that I apply to Butler Summer Institute. I then wrote my long essay on the subjectivity of national identity and the conflicting sources of such that lead to nationalist-inspired violence in Brian Friel’s play Translations. Now it’s February, and I’m ready to turn in my proposal for the Young Dog/Young Man project.

Butler Summer Institute is a nine-week session during the summer that allows students to pursue independent research projects with a faculty mentor. I think two-thirds of the projects are from the sciences–something about the way the program is funded–but scholars from all disciplines are welcome. This type of project is extremely attractive for several reasons:

  • I can research whatever truly interests me without worrying about fitting it into a class syllabus. Comparative literary studies!! WALES!! WELSH!!
  • I can work closely with my Irish Lit professor. She’s the perfect mentor for a project like this: Her specialties include transnational literature and multilingual texts, postcolonial studies, and comparative literature.
  • I’ll produce a longer writing sample–something I’ll need should I apply to graduate school after what I hope is a career in a dance company.
  • On that note, I’ll practice writing a literary analysis longer than twenty-four pages.
  • I get to do the comparative literature thing.
  • I can surrender to my total love of all things Welsh. During the research for the partial bibliography I’m including in my application, I kept getting distracted: I just had to read part of “The Social Identity of Welsh Learners,” even though it will not be included in my final project. Oooo, the other one I had tremendous difficulty putting down was “Near-Sameness in Early Insular Metrics: Oral Ancestry and Aesthetic Potential.” This article WILL figure into my final project. So excited. (Early Insular Metrics = early poetry of the Insular Celtic languages, which include Welsh and Irish Gaelic).
  • I’ll receive free housing for the duration of the session, plus a stipend. This will definitely help defray the cost of summer school–and the cost of not being able to hold a job during the summer.

I’m nervous about this mainly because I do not know whether my application will be rejected because I have to take a course during the last three weeks of the BSI session if I am to get my secondary English major. Well, we shall see. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Back to school booklist

Spring semester (which is actually the semester of continued winter misery and a wee bit of spring sun) is quickly approaching! Butler University resumes classes on Jan 18 this year, which is the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That’s pretty late. We have had about three weeks for the last two years: This year’s winter break between the fall and spring semesters was a month-long affair.

However pleasant an affair it was, break is drawing to an end. This means I should try to start waking up a bit earlier. This means I should think about wearing more layers when I go back to Butler. This means I should think about taking full responsibility for my own food and laundry again. (Thanks, Mom… *sheepish*) This means looking forward to reuniting with my friends at Butler again! This also means buying textbooks.

Ugh. I despise buying textbooks. I think I did a really good job this semester, though. I got half my books through Butler’s bookstore and half with the website Better World Books (which is actually mentioned on the second page of an article in the New York Times), all for just over one hundred dollars.

I’ve got a lot of reading–and annotating–ahead of me. Also, marathon readings of Moby-Dick?

Supposed to be about my living room

I realize my picture posts of Butler’s junior/senior housing (four-bedroom apartments in the Apartment Village) have been somewhat spread out over the year. I posted a kitchen tour in September and my bedroom tour in November. Now, I’ll tie up some loose ends with the living room tour!

The kitchen area and living room are not separated by walls, but the carpet in the living room section gives the spaces some sense of division. Unlike the bedrooms, where the bed and desk and so on come with the rental of the apartment, the living room is completely and utterly unfurnished. It’s a good thing I have roommates with impeccable taste.

This photo has been sitting in my computer, gathering pixel-dust for ages, since by the end of the semester, the bookcase was completely stuffed. We keep cookbooks and some games on it, and the rest–I am afraid to admit–is all mine: textbooks, Norton Anthologies (I’m collecting them, apparently), library books, and books I somehow acquire.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you will know I love books. My bookshelf at home is currently completely full, and I’ve had to resort to using a box on the floor in front of the shelf. I have a system, however! All the books on my shelf, I have read. All the books in the box, I have yet to read. Clever, huh? Sort of.

Here is an awkward Photobooth picture of my bookshelf. You cannot see, because there is a seating object in the way, but I have another shelf below the lowest one in the picture. Oh dear.

Plus there are books in a stack on the floor which I must donate. Plus there are library books on my childhood toy chest. Plus more books which I read at night on my bedside table. This break, I haven’t read as much as was wont in years past, which seems to be this semester’s theme. Let’s see. This break I’ve read, in order of completion:

  • James Joyce, by John Gross: a book of essays on James Joyce
  • A War of Gifts, by Orson Scott Card: a novella in the Ender’s Game world that I purchased from the Butler bookstore on my birthday ages and ages ago
  • Something Borrowed, by Elizabeth Giffin: a Christmas present from my roommate (aka, the requisite chick lit)
  • Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman: radiant
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card again: a reread of an old book for a friend
  • three-eighths of The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
  • three-fourths of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce

And… I just now realized this post has deviated somewhat from its promised subject. Whoops! Look for more apartment pictures in the future, I suppose.