Because my research process has been (comparatively) fairly simple, and because the progress of my project has proceeded more or less linearly, I think it more appropriate to return to the geneses of my research for this final post than to squander it on one more status update. Sometime around the end of the semester I approached my project advisor, Professor Heacox, and asked if he would suggest some readings in literary theory to keep me occupied. Besides two very different introductions to the topic, he gave me the syllabus for a course on theory that he used to teach and told me to acquire the anthology of which it makes use — Hazard Adams’s Critical Theory Since Plato. Thus equipped, I leafed through some essays and excerpts (Wilde, Trotsky, Keats) and dismissed others out of hand (Zola, Plato).
Having thumbed through more or less germane critical essays and excerpts all summer, writing piecemeal as I went, I was very surprised last week when — with the sudden realization that I must bring it all together — I discovered that my project was already more or less done. I admit that I was immensely pleased with this development, although my paper as things currently stand has the undesirable tendency to, well, sprawl. Writing for a few moments each morning until one grows weary of it is, evidently, a surefire way to write way too much. I’m now faced with the task of editing, the main question being, is it unconscionably long? Do I need to bring in a chainsaw or just some pruners? At the same time, I am still faced with the issue I addressed in my last post. I’ve sketched my phrase structure trees on twenty-some notebook pages, complete with ink blotches and hastily made corrections. Since I still can’t display these electronically, this is essentially the best I can do — everyone will have to pardon my handwriting, but I think the page numbers I provide for each sentence should give the reader reference to a much cleaner version of the text. Now I just need to scan these in and hope they remain as legible as possible. If anyone has questions I am of course delighted to address them.
I began my research by pursuing two parallel courses of study: an introduction to literary theory, and an introduction to linguistics, in particular syntax and the phrase-structure tree method of plotting sentences. The second will allow me to do my project; the first will, I hope, help me to understand and explain my results. Having read numerous texts, both introductory books and chapters and carefully selected articles and essays from influential theorists and thinkers, I now feel confident enough to prognosticate favorably upon the outcome of my project. A regimen of practice sentences, provided by Professor Ann Reed, has acquainted me with the phrase-structure technique and given me the necessary practice in creating sentence trees. I had hoped to be able to map sentences electronically using an open source drag-and-drop program I found, called TreeForm, but unfortunately neither this nor any other resource of which I am currently aware is capable of creating PS trees for the sentences of Remembrance of Things Past within an acceptable time frame. Thus I am reduced to the very unrefined solution of providing an appendix of hand-drawn sentences to complement my paper.