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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Class Tomorrow

I found the syllabus online, so I have a vague idea about the assignments I need to complete. Just I do not know where the reading assignment is. I am guessing it was a hand out they gave out in class. I have tried to get in contact with people, but they have not responded yet. That isn't really a problem. I know all the course facilitator people are all very advanced students and so are very busy. I am sure everything will work out. I have no idea what they mean by digital portfolio. Is it this blog thing? I am not really sure. I have this running though, in case it is. I also need to turn in an source annotation thing. I think I will just type something up about The Empire Writes Back, since I have already kind of been doing that. Reading over the syllabus has given me some perspective of where I need to be. It also has given me some ideas about my sources. Well, not so much ideas as it has helped me gauge what kinds of things I should be looking into for sources. Up to now I have kind of been reading willy-nilly. Everything has been related, but I wouldn't necessarily cite all of it in a project proposal. Also, seeing that a project proposal draft is due in mid February, I definitely need to write out some sketch-ish proposals this week. I wish I wasn't so dag blasted busy. This semester is going to be insanely busy. Hopefully that means it will be fun.

I think I am about through this cold or flu or whatever it is I have. It still is kind of chilling in my face right now, but it is not as bad as it was yesterday. I am just so dang tired. I am not sure if it would be more productive to just charge on ahead in the face of exhaustion or take it easy and play catch-up. I think for now I am going to try the charging route. College does not seem to really be designed with disease in mind.

I have been thinking about my project topic. I realized that part of what has making me slightly uneasy about all of this is that I have been too worried about the significance of my project. I mean, I never really intended/hoped that my project would be some amazing thing that would change everything. But I realize that I have been worried that it will just be dumb. And it might be, but after spending a few days thinking about it what I realized (I have used that word like twenty times in three sentences) is that really I have two goals from this project. I am not sure which is the primary goal, so in no particular order: I want to have the experience of putting together my own project and carrying it out. That is pretty straightforward. All I have to do is just do this field study, but I think even just the experience of seeing this to the end will be a major accomplishment. I mean even if it were just polling people on their favorite color, putting it all together and carrying it out in India is awesome and something I really want out of this experience. (It feels weird writing about that since it is like saying what I want to get out of school is the experience of going to school). The second is just to become even more familiar with Indian culture, hopefully transform my basic reading and writing skills into speaking skills in Hindi, and to establish connections with people and ideas in India. I feel like I am more prepared to really start to observe and absorb Indian cultural ideas. I really hope that this does not end up some superficial, touristy trip. I am not doing this to experience exotic India or to find spirituality or whatever. I want to experience and breathe in everyday people, vegetable shops, housewives doing laundry, students going to elementary school, people going to the local, small, boring temples, mosques, churches, and gurudwaras. (Although I have noticed that gurudwaras are never small or boring, at least that I have seen) So even if my project is a spectacular failure, I sincerely hope, I hope hope hope, that I will come away from this experience feeling like I am really starting to be fluent with India. I really would like this not to be my "college experience" that everyone talks about where they go backpack through Europe or whatever, but rather I would like it to be a turning point in my relationship with India where I am not desperately scrambling for excuses and funds to go back, but that it becomes a regular part of my life. I do not really care about being a world traveller. India is enough for me. I mean, there may be a few more scrambling trips, but I hope this will be a foundation for me as a useful connection to India and not just a tagalong.

Considering failure, I go back and forth about what I want to do for my project. Do I just want to do a general survey of literature? You know, like, interview some people, go to some book shops, maybe a school if I can find any that are open, and then write some vague, feel-good ten or fifteen page paper since I know I can definitely do that. Or should I try for something else? I have thought about trying to hunt down whatever I can find of poets who wrote in India like Emma Roberts. I don't know if the national archives in India have much from her or if I could find stuff on short trips to Simla or Kolkata. I have thought about looking into the origin of Indian readership in English/looking at what the contemporary reading climate is really like across different languages. I have read stuff about the vibrant literary tradition in native Indian languages, but as far as English is concerned, I haven't found a trace of it except in a few sort of, I don't know "feminist" or some sort of special interest multicultural publication, however those are few and far between. I just feel like if there actually is this huge literary canon hiding in Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Oriya (I give up on trying to be pc with Indian languages, it takes too long) I feel like there would be some ripple or something, some evidence of its existence. I have also thought about trying to study the Urdu literary renaissance (that isn't quite the word I am looking for, but it gives the general idea) of the late Mughal court. I would hopefully be able to look at some primary documents. I mean, I don't know how much there is. A great deal of some of the worlds best poetry in Urdu was, ahem, destroyed by the British in the siege of Delhi in 1857. (Thank you Shakespeare, your influence is truly felt by the Mosalman in India, he will never know how much he owes you...) I know Hindi grammar in general, which is basically the same as Urdu. I would just have to learn how to read and write Urdu, which may be a bridge too far. I don't know. I do not want to overreach here. I am not sure how much of these other ideas are possible. I need to spend more time expanding the English language reading idea. I feel like I am a little overwhelmed by it. It is just such a hugely broad topic. I am not exactly sure where to go to write anything meaningful about English readership/authorship in India. I really am not too keen on writing some spacey thing trying to pull conclusions from some non conclusive data based on some random conversations I've had with people about what they read.

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