I am writing to apply for the position teaching Old English, Middle English, and the history of English that you advertised in the October MLA Job Information List. My fields of specialization are Old and Middle English literature, and I am particularly interested in 1) the representation of relations between men and women in Medieval literature, and 2) the ways in which 19th and 20th Century writings (both literary and critical) re-invent and deploy "the Medieval" to further their literary, social, and political aims.
I am a graduate student completing my Ph.D. in the English Department at Yale University. In September 1989 I expect to submit my dissertation, titled "Painting the Lion: Chaucer's Legend of Good Women."
Among the papers I'm throwing out: a draft of an application. I'm struck by the listlessness and pomposity of it -- do all academics sound that way? It goes on for pages, of course, describing my dissertation and the books I supposedly envisioned writing. Including, I was surprised to see, the dissertation I had just abandoned, the book -- that was to establish at one blow my literary theory and historical linguistic chops -- about metaphor and metonymy in Old English poetry. Ay me! I loved to play the bad boy, and I was such a pandering lickspittle. I didn't believe any of that crap, but I was still offering it up to my masters for approval.
In the same notebooks, which are mostly journals, the endless litany: I can't get myself to work, I can't get myself to eat right, I can't get myself to stop going out to taverns. And yet I never get my head above water long enough to say: this is clearly wrong, I'm clearly embarking on the wrong life, I won't work for any of this stuff because I don't actually want any of this stuff.
Throwing away these papers makes me very, very happy.