So, you’d like to know about my thesis eh? Well, let me take a deep breath, shift my position in this swivel chair, and see if I can explain this without losing myself.
The idea for my thesis has grown out of a passion project that I worked on in my Intro to Electronic Literature course during my first semester as a graduate student. I had no idea what I was doing because I had no idea what e-lit was until I enr-
olled for that course. I was behind the entire semester when it came to generating ideas and making progress toward a finished project; low and behold, though, one day a very vague thought popped into my head. I asked myself, “what is important to you?”. My history. Where I come from… because I don’t know who I am. Then I gr
abbed my computer and started researching a name I had heard once; the story that I remembered was that of Sara Baartman, a South African woman who was kidnapped and put into slavery. The short version of the story is basically that she was put on display in Europe and made to perform for the French. After Sara died, a plaster cast was made of her body and some of her body parts (brain and genital area) was cut out and pickled in jars in a museum. She was a joke. An experiment. A weird looking black woman with big lips and a big butt. Her existence is this.
I began writing a poem about her life and those years, which ended up being my most prized piece in my final manuscript for my poetry course that semester. My professor said it was ready for publication, but I didn’t understand how it could be because I spent 10 minutes crying into my notebook and scratching verses vigorously until I couldn’t form anymore words. I guess passion will do that. From there, I spiraled out of control with different ideas and couldn’t get settled into once to save my life. I was all over the place. I finally ended up settling into the very controversial topic of African people vs. African American people. My work was a very basic multi modal digital poetry piece that I am immensely proud of and couldn’t seem to let go of. I knew that I had to finish it, so I decided to expand it for my thesis because who is going to stop me?
Now, I am looking into the ways that electronic literature can be used in the classroom and be introduced to students earlier. Many people around me that are in Writing Studies, or English in general for that mater, do not know what it is and that bothered me. I asked myself if my piece can act a representation of what can happen when students learn about different ways to “write” on the internet and in a digital space. I guess part of my question is really what can this kind of creative visualization help us to understand about process, creativity in the classroom, identity even? My theme is very narrowed into a specific lane; I am dealing with race, gender, identity, history of violence on the body, embodiment etc. all in once piece, but this one piece can be the prime example of what I want to talk about in the more analytical and textual aspect of this thesis. It is supplemental in a sense.
I don’t know if what I am trying to do has been done… all I know is that I made a promise to myself that I would finish this piece and I am going to do just that. There is something that comes over me and pulls me in when I speak about it. I can’t let this go, so whatever is coming up ahead, I am bracing myself for the journey.