Is Selling Out the New Keeping it Real?

I’m happy to report that I’ve finished a draft of a dissertation chapter, my first finished chapter, on the figure of the trendspotter. The title, for those who have been following along and might be interested, is “Is Selling Out the New Keeping it Real?: The Hermeneutics of Trendspotting in the Cultural Economy.” I am fairly happy with how it turned out, although I recognize that I need to do some more work here, and in general. Most importantly, I need to get deeper into the tradition of anti-consumerist writing as well as the history and evolution of Cultural Studies. I’ll be doing this, in part, by moving on to my next chapter, which will look at how the figure of the hipster fits into the history of the early Cold War. So: Adorno, Marcuse, William Whyte, etc., here I come.

Breaking my dissertation into character types is probably the best move I’ve made. It’s allowed me to break my project into coherent and discrete chunks, while giving shape more broadly to my overarching argument–which is about the importance of character sketches and “characterological” analysis to Postwar American history and literature. My next move is going to be to begin research on the hipster as a figure and to go (in July) to the Ransom Center at UT Austin. I’ve heard Austin is a pretty cool city, so I’m pretty excited to go. Also, the next big chunk of research will give me some more personal time to revise my novel and to begin some new creative writing projects.

Finally, I should report that I will be going to Singapore and Jakarta for the month of June. I’ll be teaching creative writing through Stanford’s EPGY program. I’m super-excited about this, for any number of reasons, and I’ll (with luck) be posting frequently on kitteneater, my travel-blog.