Have any of you ever panicked over a thesis?
I spent most of the summer of 2011 panicking over a research abstract– not the 60 pages of in-depth data analysis, I was mostly cool with that. Just the six sentence abstract meant to introduce my paper in my fellowship’s journal. The anxiety gave me hives. It was (and still is) so much easier to just do the thing than it is to explain the thing you are doing.
It’s been four years. I’ve published research throughout my undergraduate career. I taught research writing. I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
But I know what I want to read, and I suppose that’s a good enough place for literary research to start.
I’ve spent months crouching through bookstores in New York City, searching with increasing desperation for books about mental illness, an obsession that I have discussed at length with my shrink. Maybe it isn’t the healthiest thing for me, considering the amount of time and money I’ve spent on medication and therapy. Maybe I should be obsessing over Disney fairy tales, or Ben & Jerry’s half-baked frozen yogurt, or something similarly sugary. But I’ve always believed that the world is best understood through writing. There’s nothing I want to understand more than the category of illnesses that very nearly upended my life.
So here is my purpose: to read books about mental illness. To discuss how it is portrayed, dissected, reflected. To make literary analysis a bit more accessible. To maybe eat some Ben & Jerry’s, maybe make some friends, maybe understand the world a bit better. I apologize for the corniness of my jokes. I also apologize for how blatantly I ignore the laws of English grammar.
Let’s have some fun.