Gabrielle Linnell

digital function meets early modern thought

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Greetings from a Former Graduate Student

Hello! That worked well.

If you’ve read the one and only previous post here, you will admire the absolute absence of bloggishness during my year at Cambridge. A glorious silence. Oops.

To recap the year:

Brueghel and Rubens imagine the Garden of Eden. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Brueghel and Rubens imagine the Garden of Eden. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

I did spend a lot of time thinking about imaginary gardens. I wrote my dissertation on responsive landscapes in Milton’s Paradise Lost. I thought a bit about Satan’s experience of Eden as contrasted with his experience of Hell, and brought in Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space as a theoretical framework.

Tools of the trade. University Library Manuscripts Room, Cambridge.

Tools of the trade. University Library Manuscripts Room, Cambridge.

For a while, I practically lived in the University Library Manuscripts Room, researching a commonplace book of 17th- and 18th-century sermons and religious treatises believed to be owned by a guy called Sir John Archer. This project was in part an opportunity to use the paleographic and bibliographic training I’d received as part of the course, and in part a chance to be a book detective.

Our beloved chubby horse. Courtesy of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Our beloved chubby horse. Courtesy of Jesus College, Cambridge.

And I participated in the community life of Jesus College, Cambridge, which really is the best college. (Really.) I gave a speech at Burns Night, visited Harry Potter Studios, ate more cheese from a cheese board than in all of my previous cheese years, and made some very good friends. (I did this, I should note, without an active Facebook account. Still possible. Amazing.)

And onward

I am now back in the States, enjoying a few moments of jet-lagged peace before starting the next adventure, which I will write about later. I look forward to writing a bit more here, as I continue to try and understand digital culture in conversation with an early modernist perspective.

I’ve updated the About page with some thoughts about what I’ll be writing about, off and on, a few times a week. If you’ve got thoughts, questions, or suggestions, comments section or Twitter (@gclinnell) are wide open.

Until next time.

Greetings from a Soon-to-Be Graduate Student

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Linnell and I’m preparing to spend a year lost in imaginary gardens.

Credit: Tom Ciriello, Flickr / Creative Commons

Credit: Tom Ciriello, Flickr / Creative Commons

I am about to begin an M.Phil in Medieval & Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge. (For me, that is more or less one of the Greatest Sentences in English literature, medieval-onwards.) During the program, I will focus on the works of John Donne and John Milton as well as assorted seventeenth-century contemporaries. I’m looking at the role of spatial metamorphosis, or rather, the ways in which Donne and Milton craft unexpected landscapes which change, shift, and evolve while their speakers move through them, and examine how and why they do so.

This work builds on my undergraduate studies at Wellesley College, where I pursued similar questions in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser and in the lyric poetry of Andrew Marvell.

In poetry and in life, I’m fascinated by virtual worlds, the kind of spaces we create to mimic and react to us. I often see creative cross-currents between the early modern poetry I study and the digital landscape we all live in, for better and worse. (Here, my thoughts have been influenced by William Powers, Sherry Turkle, Michael Sacasas, and the poet T.J. Jarrett, among other very neat people.)

This is perhaps not surprising: poetry tells us about life itself; recounts the past and reinterprets it; examines the way we relate to each other; investigates the role of environments; deconstructs and reconstructs the most intimate of relationships; imagines new possibilities for the way we live. Donne and Milton offer many imaginary gardens, virtual worlds in which we lose ourselves and find ourselves still today, when we might also lose ourselves in a labyrinthine Reddit.

On this blog, and at odd intervals, I will be musing about early modern poetry, the role of place, and the critical connections between the poetry and our curiously digital planet. I’ll also fill in bits and bobs from the life of a graduate student in Cambridge, once I arrive. (Right now I’m attempting to resurrect my Latin and re-read Paradise Lost. ) It should be, if nothing else, fun.

Thoughts? Questions? Spurious insults? Deposit them in the comments section or send me a tweet @gclinnell.


Photo Credit: Tom Ciriello.

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