Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Anxiety of Influence

While writing my posts on how to write a humanities paper, I'm working on a paper about a literary hero of mine, which I don't want to jinx by saying too much about before I've got the first draft finished. But I thought, also for my own sake, that I'd try to make explicit a kind of schema of its outline.

In a disastrous speech, the novelist A announced that the notion of N was the key to solving our political problems.

N was first proposed by B as a principle of literary criticism.

In this paper, I will show that the reinterpretation of N as principle of political and cultural analysis is the key to understanding A's oeuvre.

[B's work is generally seen as iconic for his time.]

B used N to critique H, but misses the mark precisely because H was all about N.

We can find an understanding of N in C, who was well aware of B's work.

We can find an understanding of N in D, who was also aware of B.

A was heavily influenced by by C and D.

We can also find a version of N in the writings of E, who was a close associate of B, and whose work was infamously political. (After the disastrous speech, an associate of A compared him to E.)

In A's pre-speech writings, there are clear traces of N.

In A's political writings and other speeches, the concept of N is clearly the organizing principle.

The concept of N remains relevant to an understanding of our current problems as understood by A.

Clearly, N provides a key to understanding A's career.

So I've been fleshing this outline out these past few mornings, and I've now got 5000 words. By the time I'm finished (hopefully this week sometime) I'll be up at around 8000. I have a couple of readers in mind to send it to. It's such an old idea of mine. It feels good to finally put it down on paper. I don't know why I've put it off for so long.

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