Thursday, February 21, 2013

Attitudes, Affects & Alliances in Scholarship (Part 2): Dragon


Leigha McReynolds

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Like everyone else in an English PhD program, I love to read. The books that really grabbed me when I was young, not just that I enjoyed and re-read but that spoke to me as something more, were about girls with dragons, specifically Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger trilogy and Tanith Lee’s Biting the Sun. 

Likewise, while I decided at about age 15 that I was going to be an English professor, it wasn’t until I took classes like Gothic Literature or Introduction to Critical Theory that I really got excited about scholarly work. Why? Because these classes showed me that I could write & teach about girls with dragons. 

And now, even though my primary area of study is nineteenth century British literature, my first publication is going to be about dragons. Boys with dragons, but still, dragons. 

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This recent project helped me realize one reason why I, and so many others, are in love with dragons: they provide a fantasy of what we can be as humans. Many, though not all, dragon stories feature some kind of symbiotic relationship between human and dragon that changes what it means to be human. 

This realization has also helped me articulate the connection between what I love to write about in my academic spare time, dragons and science fiction, and the topic of my dissertation, which I’m also fond of, mesmerism in Victorian literature. 

They all explore expanded possibilities for the human; they are all a fantasy of what we could or might be as human beings. 

Whether it’s telepathic communication with a giant flying lizard or a mesmeric rapport that allows one to see inside a sick person’s body, these narratives are dreams about our potential.

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Listen via Podcast to
the M.A.T.C.H. Round-Table 
"Attitudes, Affects & Alliances 
in Scholarship"
15 February 2013

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