Collaborative research in humanities leads to exploration in Austria
RELEASED: August 2, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—Collaborative student/faculty research is common at Centre all year long. Students gain valuable experience applying lessons learned in the classroom, and the experience can lead to opportunities for publication.
This summer, senior Caitlin Harper of Downers Grove, Ill., is working with Ian Wilson, assistant professor of German and humanities, in a research collaboration in the humanities department.
Their research involves Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize, about whom Wilson is currently writing a book. He and Harper have been focusing on the novel Die Klavierspielerin, studying the metaphor-heavy work in great detail.
For part of their research, Harper and Wilson traveled to Vienna, Austria, to study the reaction of the German-speaking public to Jelinek and her works at the Literaturhaus Wien (House of Literature Vienna).
"The trip was an important opportunity to be immersed in the German language and the artistically rich culture of Vienna," Harper says. "Actually being in the city where the novel is set helped me to fully experience the work."
Harper, a double major in German Studies and art, says the research is beneficial to both of her majors.
"Jelinek encourages responsibility within the world of art and has a penetrating aesthetic approach," she says.
Wilson said, "I hope to explore Jelinek’s strategies of intentionally disrupting easy reading processes through scenes of violence and sexuality and language that confuses and constantly guides the reader astray. Jelinek’s central concern during her 40-year career has been to highlight the deep structures of gender repression, violence and fascism present in post-World War II Austrian culture."
Wilson and Harper plan to continue their research on Jelinek throughout the course of the upcoming academic year, as Harper will be serving as Wilson's student assistant. Wilson hopes to have his book finished by 2009.
"Caitlin will receive much deserved thanks in the preface, and the chapter dealing with Die Klavierspielerin will without a doubt feature many thanks for her perceptive observations and comments during our summer work," Wilson said.
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