I am at a point in my dissertation-writing process where I am going to begin (on Monday) writing my first diss. chapter. Initially, I’ll write a conference paper for the upcoming Stanford-Berkeley graduate student conference. This’ll be on co-optation in a novel called The Savage Girl. Then, I’ll fuse this conference paper with a previous paper I’ve written on Pattern Recognition. Locally, the operation for writing this chapter seems easy enough. Come up with an argument and write away. But in fact, I’ve been pretty anxious about how this local chapter will fit in with the global argument of the diss. The most annoying problem is that two competing, and mutually irreconcilable, structures come to mind. The first argument-based. The second chronological. I would ideally like to find a way to line up both modes of argument, since the “post-” in postirony suggests, after all, a coming after some generalized age of irony. Unfortunately, the real historical picture is pretty muddy once you get into the 1990s. So here’s what I’ve got so far (snappy chapter titles withheld for fear that someone out there is lurking around waiting to steal my clever ideas):
Introduction: On Irony
Chapter 1: Hipsters (1950s)
Chapter 2: Theorizing Postmodernism (1980s)
Chapter 3: Postirony (1990s)
Chapter 4: Co-optation and the Cool-hunters (temporarly non-specific, but the books are from the early 2000s)
Conclusion: The end of irony (after 9/11/01)
Easy enough, and chronological, but in Chapters 3 and 4 things get mucked up in a big way. I have to both introduce and modify the co-optation thesis of the postironists, but I’m not sure whether to offer my critique after the particular formal analyses of the novels I’m looking at (a chronological move), or right as I introduce the claims (a more logical move). Oh, what problems I’ve got, eh? Suggestions welcome.