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and paratextual material: forewords, introductions, afterwords, interviews, reviews, articles, editorials and unpublished archival documents.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.