21 November, 2007

Here we go again...

So it's been a good year since I've updated this blog, but instead of calling it a long-delayed update, I'm going to call it a first installment in a re-vamped blog. Before this site was for friends and family at home to see what I've been up to and to attempt to keep a journal of what I've been up to...but that didn't work so well.

Now, I'm using it as a tool of my education. I've just finished my MA in Arthurian Literature from the University of Wales, Bangor and I've decided to stay on for a PhD in Film and New Media from the National Institute for Excellence in the Creative Industries. The short answer is that I'm getting my PhD in Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Dark is Rising, His Dark Materials and Narnia... but I can make it sound more academic than that if need be!

I first became interested in the UK after reading The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper when I was about 12. The fourth book of the series, The Grey King, was by far my favorite, and it took place in this seemingly magical, lost-in-time place called Wales. When my family went there for vacation a few years after that, my dad planned the England portion of the trip, and I did the Wales part. I've been hooked ever since! I did a semester abroad in Bangor my Junior year of College (I got my BA in English from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg VA), and had the best semester of my life. I joined the rowing team, I hiked, I traveled to Italy and Ireland, tried new things (blood pudding and spotted dick included) and planted roots that I hadn't planned on planting, but I think I hoped to plant.

When I returned from that semester, I became an Ambassador for British Education with the British Council to promote education in the UK. It was a great post, and allowed me to 'keep my foot in the UK door' so to speak. I enjoyed that, and basically counted down the days until I could go back to Wales.

I returned in Fall 2005 to begin my MA in English lit and finished it in September 2007 with my main focus being the modern portrayals of the Arthurian legend. I was planning on just bumming around the UK for a year on my visa, but then this PhD turned up and there was no way in the world I could turn it down.

I've been obsessed with fantasy for a very long time, and I always thought it was just a blind appreciation for magic and make-believe, but the older I get, and as I rely on these texts more and more, and read about them more and more, I'm learning that fantasy is not just a study of children's literature or something to be taken lightly. It has much deeper roots, it has the ability to describe the indescribable, and the power to transplant the reader in to an alternate world and transform them in the real world.

I hope this blog is a good record for me, selfishly, to trace the progression of my PhD, but I also hope that it opens up discussion about the adaptations of fantasy literature (like the abysmal film: "Seeker:The Dark is Rising" and the discrepancies between text and film of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia and His Dark Materials), and that it invites any anglophiles, fantasyphiles or anyone who has a hankering to study in the UK to post or contact me.

So there's the intro, I'll post a few things over the next week or two about what I've been up to since I started the PhD in October, and then it'll be up to date and a more 'live' and 'up to date' thing.

Happy reading :)