Our Spring 2005 Colloquium Session continued the Fall's cooperative project with Brandeis. BC Professor Andrew Sofer delivered an original paper on Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, which was followed up by a response from BC PhD student Katherine Kellet. Our graduate presenters for the evening were Brandeis PhD student Andrew Albin, whose paper, "Difference on the Deck of the Indomitable: Billy Budd from Novella to Opera and Back Again," examined the play between judgment and performance through an interdisciplinary approach that blended literature and music. BC Doctoral Candidate Matthew Bolinder brought questions of judgment and performance into an ecological context with a paper titled ""Solid Forests and Fluid Utterances." With the session well underway, we convened for a lively roundtable discussion of writing in and out of the academy.
You will find below extracts from each graduate paper. To inquire about obtaining a complete copy of either text, please contact us.
Difference on the Deck of the Indomitable: Billy Budd from Novella to Opera and Back Again" by Andrew Albin
While scholarship devoted to Billy Budd the opera has in recent years embraced deconstructive thinking, no critics have more than cursorily engaged Johnson’s reading. This, I suggest, is a lamentable oversight. The framework of differences which she constructs is eminently applicable to the opera’s most pressing difficulties, to its ambiguities that have fascinated critics since the work’s debut. In fact, this framework of difference is entirely reconfigured once Billy Budd shifts from the page to the stage. Where the novella foregrounds the political conditions of judgment and decidability, the opera is shrouded with an impenetrable, psychological ambiguity. In a reversal of Johnson’s deconstructive terms, the “difference within” overtakes the “difference between” and judgment, the hinge of her argument, is problematized on virtually all strata of intelligibility, from overarching theme and structure to localized chord and word. Plumbing this new, operatic hierarchy of difference offers a unique perspective on Melville’s novella and its deconstructive critique, from which judgment—and the possibility of its suspension—may be judged.
"Solid Forests and Fluid Utterances" by Matthew Bolinder
What keeps the irony of the ad's calorically-challenged fireplace logs from being realized is the larger postmodern oddity of using a hearth not as a place for food preparation, or a source of heat, or even company, as in Eckstorm's text, but as a kind of rustic display case. I assume that most people would not have their purchase shipped by parcel post only then to burn it, though such a fire would most certainly contribute to holiday festivity. (In commenting on the decline of wood-burning households, Maine historian Philip Coolidge suggested some time ago that "There should be a society to encourage hearth fires," with "white birch edgings" notable for "giv[ing] a prompt cheery fire" .) Even if they were burned, the relatively short-lived fire they provided would accentuate the logs' symbolic as much as their material worth. The fire itself would constitute a special occasion, or ritual--or, at the very least, forty bucks going up the chimney. I imagine, then, the Maineses knew they were not selling firewood so much as a feeling--a perceived connection, or desire.
Below are some photos from the second of our Spring 2005 session, "Playing Parts".