Monday, December 8, 2008

Daniel Donoghue: Academia and Guys Named Joe

I don't know a lot about academia. Before I went to Reed, the idea of going to graduate school had never even occurred to me. For that matter, the thought of getting my BA from a reasonably reputable institution hadn't occurred to me either (thanks, Mom). Now I'm scrambling to find out all the things about graduate education that it seems like everyone else already knows.

One thing I've noticed is that academia is definitely something of a guy-named-Joe situation. This is like what happens when you start dating a guy named Joe: suddenly you realize that half the people you meet are named Joe, and you'd never noticed it before. Similarly, once you become aware of the existence of some scholar, you see his name everywhere. There's nothing remarkable about this, I suppose--it's just a matter of paying attention to something that hadn't been on your radar before. But I was struck by the coincidence of happening to see this article immediately after I'd finished reading the Beowulf edited by Daniel Donoghue.

I am given to understand that, when considering graduate schools, it's important to know where various scholars are. So I'm going to try to start thinking about who's who in English academia.

Daniel Donoghue is a professor of medieval English studies at Harvard; he's also a "director of undergraduate studies," though I'm not sure just what that entails. His interests, per his faculty page, include "Old English and early Middle English literature; early historiography; the history of the English language; metrics and syntax; medievalism – or the reception of the Middle Ages today." He has written a book called Old English Literature: A Short Introduction and one entitled Lady Godiva: A Literary History of the Legend. He's the editor of Year's Work in Old English Studies. I also found this article in Harvard Magazine, entitled "Beowulf in the Yard."

I wish I could see where he went to school--it's good to keep track of these sorts of things--but I don't see a CV among these Google results. Oh well.

It's very unlikely that I will ever need to know any of these things about Daniel Donoghue. But it can't hurt to start somewhere, and perhaps these baby steps will help me overcome my terror of grad school.

2 comments:

Annemarie said...

DAN DONOGHUE! my buddy rachel worked for him for a long time (formatting his book and developing his website i thought, but it seems like he doesn't actually have a website...mysterious).

"director of undergraduate studies" means he plays papa bear to all the undergrads in the department...signs their study cards, makes various advising decisions...like spearheading curricular changes such as the shift to seminars (which is amazing and shocking!) as the basis of the english major. not super relevant for you, i guess.

speaking of harvard english profs, you should read stephen burt's new poetry criticism blog, http://www.closecallswithnonsense.com/ ! he's excellent.

djashtray said...

cool blog! yes please to making grad school seem less scary. if you can't do it what hope is there for me??????? hugs (this is julie btw)