I have 11 more days in the classroom and just over a month until the big move. Then we're off on a 2300 mile trek across the mid-west and southeastern parts of the country. (400 miles of which will include the cat.) Yesterday, I submitted the final paperwork for the dissertation. Once I pay the $96 dollars to deposit, it will be officially done. Finally.
It's different than I thought it would be. I thought it would be a happy moment. Instead, I'm fairly indifferent. I have boxes of research that I don't know what to do with. Part of me thinks I should keep it, but another part of me knows that I'm never going to touch it again and probably shouldn't pay to move it. The thing is, I always thought that my dissertation would turn into the kind of book that people might read, that might be useful to students and other scholars. But then again, I'm sure everyone thinks that. Now, I know that isn't the case. I'm leaving academia and leaving that behind as well.
No one (beside my poor committee) will probably ever read the thing in its entirety, but there is one page that I do hope people get to read. Because while I am currently without career prospects, I am not without graditude.
Writing may be a solitary activity, but this project did not happen without support.
This project could not have been completed without the help of numerous libraries and librarians. I am grateful to the Special Collections Resource Center at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale for allowing me access to the Kay Bole and Caresse Crosby collections. Librarian David Koch was particularly kind and helpful in sharing his stories and answering my questions about these two literary women and their works. After his retirement, Melissa Hubbard made my work in the collections a pleasure. Sandra Spanier, of Penn State, helped direct me to the Kay Boyle papers, and other members of the Kay Boyle Society, including Thomas Austenfeld and Marilyn Elkins, were instrumental in pointing me to other sources for this project. Kay’s son, Ian Von Frackenstein, was generous enough to allow me to quote from his mother’s unpublished papers. I am indebted to the staff at the JFK Library for facilitating my access to Hemingway’s papers and manuscripts. Judith Baughman and Jeffery Makala at the University of South Carolina library helped me to access Matthew Bruccoli’s Fitzgerald collection remotely. The staff of the University of Virginia Library helped me to locate correspondence between Faulkner and his publishers.
I am also grateful to my committee for their assistance. Michael Rothberg, John Marsh, and Naomi Reed all read portions of this project at various times and added their expertise. Robert Dale Parker helped me formulate many of the ideas found in the Faulkner coda and Hemingway chapter. His keen eye and extensive notes helped me polish my writing. I am especially grateful for the guidance and support of Stephanie Foote. She always seemed to know where this project was going far before I did, but her guidance was never prescriptive. I’m grateful that she took a chance on a 20th century dissertation and allowed me the freedom to make this project my own. Her guidance was astute and made the final product here infinitely better. Any shards of brilliance contained within are directly the result of these scholars’ influence; any mistakes are, of course, my own.
Finally, I am grateful to those who had to live with me while this project was being completed. Aerin Hyun helped keep me sane when I dreamed of throwing in the towel and going back to retail. Mary Rose Cottingham’s excitement for completed chapters and publications was infectious. Max and then Harry kept me grounded. By being perfection themselves, they let me know that there was more to life than obsessing over the perfection of this project. Because they were my babies, this was always my work, and their presence in my life made the work here better. And last, but never least, Jason— my biggest cheerleader, who has been with me since day one of this project—the economist who now knows more about Fitzgerald and Hemingway than anyone should. I am grateful that he put up with trips to the deer-infested wilds of Southern Illinois and for holding down the fort while I flew off to Boston. None of this would have meant anything without him.
Stick around....something new is coming.