I got my topic for the trial lecture I’ve got to give the day before my defence: îUser-avatar relations in cybertextsî. So now I have a fortnight to write a traditional 45 minute lecture of the sort you read slowly from a carefully prepared manuscript.
It’s very close to the topic of my thesis. It nearly is the topic of my thesis, though I suppose maybe I could have spent more time discussing the user/avatar thing. I was hit by communication model fatigue, you see, you know, the real author – implied author – narrator – narratee – implied reader – real reader stuff. User and avatar (though I’m not sure I like the word avatar) go in there instead of “real reader” and “narratee” – more or less, perhaps a little less than more. You get into those questions people often get stuck in, too, like should we really be using models devised for literature and reading for works that aren’t simply literary, and then there’s the whole how structuralist do you want to be discussion. I delved too deep in all that in the first year I worked on my thesis, and got so tangled in definitions I had great trouble disentangling myself. Threw most of what I wrote into the “probably rubbish” folder. Perhaps I can write about this differently, though?
I think I’m going to do a close reading of something, and discuss the user/avatar question through that. Careful readings of actual works are my favourite kind of academic writing these days. Perhaps I’ll write about Magictree.com, it’s fascinated me, and I’ve not really written about it at all. And it involves the user quite peculiarly. Or I’ll find something else. Suggestions?