Goodbye, September

I’m sad that September is ending in the next half hour. As a tribute, I’ve been listening to Jeff Lynne’s rendition of “September Song” repetitively in iTunes. I’m wondering if Jeff Lynne will ever release a new album again, whether he does it under his own name or the guise of ELO. His only solo album, Armchair Theatre, on which “September Song” resides, came out in 1990. Zoom, under the ELO name, was released in 2001. And, though several ELO albums have been re-released with bonus tracks, b-sides, outtakes, and alternate song versions these past few years, it’s been a while since anything wholly new has come about. I suppose all I can do is wait and wonder. (And listen to every ELO song in alphabetical order. That’s always fun.)

So, as I now listen to “September Song” for what is probably the fiftieth time today, I am also trying to complete a “map” of what I want to complete (and when) in my independent study this term. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m focusing on autism, rhetoric, and representation. I’ve so many things that I want to read, and I keep having to tell myself that I only have ten weeks to accomplish this, and it’s hard for me to figure out what a workable reading load is. This past weekend I wanted to read a couple books written by parents of autistic children (including Jenny McCarthy’s book — and not because I like Jenny McCarthy’s ideas). However, I ended up on a rabbit trail of sorts, and ended up re-reading Michael John Carley’s Asperger’s from the Inside Out. (I suppose he counts as both an aspie AND a parent of an aspie. So I wasn’t completely off track.)

I also finally worked up the nerve to email a professor in the field of rhetoric and composition who has been doing work with autism. I wasn’t sure whether or not it was socially appropriate to email random professors at different colleges because of e-stalking I’d done via Google and CCCC electronic conference programs. So, I spoke with a couple of non-random professors (a.k.a. my professors) and got some tips on what to say (and what not to say). After spending three days writing the email and having two fellow grad assistants read over what I’d written, I finally hit “send,” and actually got a response — a very pleasant, encouraging, and helpful response. He sent me several pieces he’d written, and so I decided to read those in lieu of vaccine-bashing narratives.

I’m really excited to finally connect with people in my field who are looking at rhetorical and social constructions of ASDs. It’s hard to talk about my interests in autism to non-humanities people a lot of the time. It’s not their faults, necessarily: we just have different disciplinary approaches, and the things I’m interested in are wrapped up in language and philosophies about meaning-making and axiological assumptions, not studying brain functions or therapeutic interventions.

Brain freeze

It’s hard to believe that August has begun. In many ways, I think that fall will be a vacation from summer.

Lately I’ve been pondering what I’ll be writing my dissertation on. I’m just entering my second year and still have at least three more classes to take, so I do have time to decide. I won’t be locked into anything for while, probably about a year. And yet, I see two very distinct possible threads that I might pursue, threads that may, indeed, be dissertation-worthy. My current scholarly obsession is Pentecostal rhetoric, and I’ve been sort of fixated on Aimee Semple McPherson, a preacher in the 20s and 30s and founder of the Foursquare church. I’m currently writing a book chapter (a draft of which is due in less than two weeks). My problem, as always, is that I feel like I can’t stop reading, I can’t stop collecting, I can’t stop taking notes.

And then there’s the other thread — the disability studies/autism thread. I think that the recent proliferation of media-driven constructions of autism needs rhetorical scrutiny. And reading disability studies theory, from a humanities standpoint, allows me to talk about social constructivism until I’m blue in the face and have unknowingly bored everyone around me.

I have personal connections to each thread, obviously. My parents left the Catholic Church when I was in kindergarten. I was mostly raised in pentecostal churches (though I don’t attend any more), and attending a Presbyterian college was an interesting transition (and resulted in another of my obsessions, John Calvin). I really enjoy dissecting these various theological frameworks and trying to understand what makes them tick, what makes their audiences tick.

There’s a lot of overlap between pentecostal/charismatic churches and faith-healing. That’s what led me to McPherson, especially, and I think she’d be interesting to examine from a dual feminist rhetorical/disability studies standpoint, especially since she was one of the first radio evangelists in the U.S. (second to Billy Sunday). But I’ve yet to find overlap between McPherson and autism… and I hate the idea of dumping one interest for the other. My only thought thus far is to explore faith-healing generally…but I hate “generally.” I’m more in favor of “super specific.”

In any event, it is August, and I’m writing a book chapter on McPherson, and I just submitted a webtext on autism and embodied authorship to an online publication. I’m tired and I can’t wait to go apple-picking next month.

Look at the time…

Grad school has eaten my life. When I walk down the foyer of Denney Hall, it’s as though each room is part of a larger, collegiate digestive tract, and I can see pieces of myself slowly getting churned by the academic acid. Of course, one could argue that I’ve never even had a life of my own — at least, not a life outside the context of school. Ouch.

I’m sure that my core audience of male-enhancement spammers has been disappointed about my bloggerly truancy. I won’t purchase any Cialis, but I sure do miss deleting your larger-than-life comments. (In the event that aspie spammers are reading: I’m being sarcastic.)

I’ve one paper left to write, and a whole bunch of grades to finish. My internal clock needs some fixin’.