First Year PhD
Q: Let’s pretend that the COVID vaccine was miraculously made available to the masses tomorrow. You are now free to go to large gatherings and/or travel. Where are you going first and what are you doing?
A: I'm going to the Escrime du Lac Fencing Club in Mishawaka and getting a membership.
Q: What’s the best book you read this semester? Was it for a class or personal choice?
A: It is a personal choice this semester (no shade to my classes). N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season is just a phenomenal piece of apocalyptic fantasy.
Q: What's the last band you saw live before COVID restricted large gatherings? Who is the first band you would like to see once we are all safely vaccinated?
A: I saw The National in Seattle, and Alvvays was opening for them! Two great bands in one show; I'm jealous of my past self. I would really love to see Phoebe Bridgers next.
Q: I heard you do Medieval stuff. Cool. So is that like Tolkien? And what is your gut reaction to that association?
A: I mean, it's not NOT Tolkien. Just looking at the Old Norse "Völuspá," you can immediately draw associations. The Hobbit alone is packed with references and connections to medieval literature. Even learning bits of Old English, you read the Trilogy differently. My take is that the man [Tolkien] viewed the medieval past through a very harmful English nationalist lens. Medieval Studies as a field is still pretty inhospitable to a lot of great scholars because of people like him. For me, a lot of why I like medieval literature is just about really weird and somewhat esoteric anecdotes. Examples include an uprising of dogs liberating a nobleman from prison because he was kind to his hounds and a story in which Henry II gets very angry with a rebellious Welsh boulder.
Q: Hypothetical question: It is a dystopian future (or maybe a perverse utopian one). The academy as an institution has ended and there are no more tenure track positions available ( I cannot stress enough that this is hypothetical). With your freshly minted PhD in hand, what would you do? What calls to you outside of these hollow/hallowed walls?
A: I think I might love a job that involves teaching, political organizing, and/or community building in some form. I'm open to suggestions. I'd rather not go back to working construction. Maybe I'll help one of my friends out west start a coffee shop in Portland where we sell books, tarot readings, and leftist literature.
*Note to readers: Since the conclusion of this interview, the interviewer has been informed by the interviewee that he can, in fact, have a job at this Portland coffee shop reading Tarot. I am not saying that I officially resign as your president, but ummmm I have something else now.