Thesis Defended

Catching Rainbows

After 4 years of research, I have successfully defended my thesis, Charting Habitus: Stephen King, the Author-Protagonist and the Field of Literary Production.  I’ve been asked to make some minor corrections and have been given a month to complete them, after which I will be awarded my doctorate in English Literature.

For those who are interested in the topic of the my thesis, here’s the thesis abstract:

While most research in King studies focuses on Stephen King’s contribution to the horror genre, this thesis approaches King as a participant in American popular culture, specifically exploring the role the author-protagonist plays in his writing about writing.  I have chosen Bourdieu’s theoretical construct of habitus through which to focus my analysis into not only King’s narratives, but also into his non-fiction and paratextual material: forewords, introductions, afterwords, interviews, reviews, articles, editorials and unpublished archival documents.  This has facilitated my investigation into the literary field that King participates within, and represents in his fiction, in order to provide insight into his perception of the high/low cultural divide, the autonomous and heteronomous principles of production and the ways in which position-taking within that field might be effected.  This approach has resulted in a study that combines the methods of literary analysis and book history; it investigates both the literary construct and the tangible page.

King’s part autobiography, part how-to guide, On Writing (2000), illustrates the rewards such an approach yields, by indicating four main ways in which his perception of, and participation in, the literary field manifests: the art/money dialectic, the dangers inherent in producing genre fiction, the representation of art produced according to the heteronomous principle and the relationship between popular culture and the Academy.  The texts which form the focus of the case studies in this thesis, The Shining, Misery, The Dark Half, Bag of Bones and Lisey’s Story demonstrate that there exists a dramatisation of King’s habitus at the level of the narrative which is centred on the figure of the author-protagonist.  I argue that the actions of the characters Jack Torrance, Paul Sheldon, Thad Beaumont, Mike Noonan and Scott Landon, and the situations they find themselves in, offer an expression of King’s perception of the literary field, an expression which benefits from being situated within the context of his paratextually articulated pronouncements of authorship, publication and cultural production.

I’m extremely excited by the ways in which my research into the work & career of Stephen King can be applied to social media, and I’ll be exploring this through the blog over the coming days, weeks, months…

However, having now completed my doctorate, the job search begins in earnest.  If you are interested in working with me then please check out my About Amy page, connect with me on LinkedIn and get in touch via email on amypalko at madasafish dot com.

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11 responses to “Thesis Defended

  1. This is a juicy thesis. I look forward to reading more on your blog about how this can be applied to social network/media.

  2. twenty years ago this week I had my version of your experience. Oral defense, minor changes (okay, revising the final chapter, but that was fine), about a month to finish. Because of some other events, my mind moved on quickly. However, one day, our 2 year old son met me as I was walking home from work. He was carrying an envelope. I looked at he return address, realized it was my diploma, and dissolved in tears. After years of leaning into the wind, the wind stopped blowing.

    Heartfelt congratulations on the success…and empathy with the curious set of feelings.

  3. Amy, my happy wishes are wending their way to you! Congratulations on this great accomplishment.

    I haven’t read much of King until I got hooked on the Dark Tower series. 2 down and more to go!

    I need to find his On Writing now, you’ve got me teased for good.

  4. Woooo Amy you rock 🙂 I knew you will breeze it :))
    Congratulations, and looking forward the new posts 🙂

  5. Congratulations, Dr. Palko! We’re so proud of you. Yay – bring on the champagne and cocktails.

    @Steve On Writing is absolutely brilliant, I loved it.

  6. Your thesis sounds extremely interesting. Congratulations again!

  7. Congratualtions, Amy.

    Interestingly, King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” explores many of life’s problematic areas, such as a sense of being lost, divorced parents, sibling rivalry, getting on track and sheer survival. This book was written shortly after King’s automobile accident and I think parallels some of his struggles. High school students relate to issues explored in this book.

    This pop culture icon certainly has more underneath the hood than many realize. Can see it was a rewarding process for you as you explored this and later defended your thesis.

  8. Pingback: Amy on Tweetabix « AmyPalko

  9. Jack – I have big plans for how the theories I’ve explored in this thesis apply to social media. Really looking forward to getting my teeth into it, and I’ll be sure to share my musings & findings.

    Jon – I’ve never heard it described in quite such a poetic way, but you’ve absolutely encapsulated the emotions – “After years of leaning into the wind, the wind stopped blowing. ” Beautiful and oh so true.

    Steve – I really want to reread The Dark Tower series, but I think I’m going to have a little break from King just now! Oh, and I think you’ll really enjoy On Writing. I’ve heard others describe it as the best thing he’s ever written.

    Roland – Thank you! Wasn’t a breeze exactly, but I got there & I feel that it’s a big achievement 🙂

    Andy – I’m going to hold you to those cocktails now!

    Julianne – Thanks – it was a great project to focus on for so many years, but now it’s time for something new 🙂

    Robyn – I love The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I think it’s an incredible text that has so many interesting facets. I actually gave a paper on it at the last International Gothic Association conference in 2007, focusing on the way the landscape in gothicised and how that translates to the pop-up edition of the text from the more standard novel format. Great stuff!

  10. Amy, I’ m a wee bit late but CONGRATULATIONS! I am so happy for you and look forward to your exploration of King here. I am very interested in learning more. It was you and Joanna that enlightened me on King’s book on writing. I learned so much from it and it certainly revealed a facet I had not expected. Thanks Dr. Amy! 🙂

  11. Amy, I found a lot in this text that made me think deeply. I would have enjoyed attending your conference.

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