Social Spectres: an informal research proposal

It’s Friday the 13th – election day 2019. A glum fog hangs on the corners of my colleagues, lecturers and families’ smiles. The farce and self-deprecating humour haunts me.
So, naturally, I am ready to declare to the world – or rather, to the few “followers” I have – that I am working on a selection of essays on what I call “cultural ghosts”. In my mind, this phrase encompasses a number of themes: themes which springboard my thought process into an explosion of intriguing historical and contemporary ideas. Post-structuralist literary thinking, digital art and virtual reality, feminism and racism: all of which I have found a deep passion for whilst studying for my degree. For that, I cannot credit my brilliant lecturers and tutors enough.
In a sense, this is a research proposal. But, having only Evernote as a place to express my feelings solitarily, I feel the urge for feedback.
There is one problem, though: one cannot study a Full-time MA in art, work a part-time job, have a social life and get enough sleep and exercise whilst also attempting to research “on the side”. Hence, this project will reach its final draft stage further in the future than I would like to claim, but nevertheless,
I am working on it.

Some context
My first recollection of a ‘ghost’ comes from the noughties film The Others. As a pre-teen, that movie terrified me. Retrospectively, I can clearly see just how influenced by the late Victorian ghost story this turn-of-the-century feature was.
After this, and a multitude of horror movies and Halloweens, my next major (and academic) encounter with ghosts was during A-Level. For my Language Investigation project, I decided to reference Edgar Allan Poe’s The Sleeper as a model for my commentary and creative writing project. My interest in the Romantic era began to grow considerably after reading Mary Shelley’s fantastic Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Her brilliant novel ignited my passion for English literature – more so than I could have ever predicted – particularly with regard to a comparison exercise my teacher led contextualising Fuseli’s The Nightmare and Frankenstein. 
In my second year of A-Levels, I fell in love with Shakespeare’s King Lear, investing a majority of my study and leisure reading to the world of magnificent classic literature.
Finally, I gave into debt and began studying a joint honours course at Aberystwyth University. This, in my opinion, is the pivotal point in my research, and at the conclusion of my first year in art, I painted my first ever abstract landscape.
I was no longer a quiet art student
lost in a crowd of creativity and the noise of art.
I became visible. People noticed my passion. And
I noticed that there is much more to art than photorealism.
I could go on and on about how much I’ve learnt by digging myself into a debt of tens of thousands of pounds. But I will say, I loved it so much that I kept my job during my third year in order to fund my masters. Welcome to present day.
Although, as I said, I could go on and on –
I want to leave my speculation and conceptual ideas for my essays. Which currently are in a state which one can only describe as a “brain-storm” (is it still PC to use that term? Honestly, I had to Google this one). Each section, chapter, essay etc. I have formulated in thematic groups – not necessarily in this order – or with these titles, but along these connotative lines:

– Unspeakable Trauma in the ghost story
Following my Haunting texts module in third year – an insight into classic ghost stories and their undeniable significance to everyday life in the 21st century. featuring Dickens, James and Poe
– Haunted by my own gender
Exploring sexuality, gender and sexism as a member of Generation Z. Presentation, representation and rejection of gender and sexuality
– The 21st century: Virtual realities in the Information Era
An investigation into new media, technology and art. The chaotic limbo of virtual reality and actual reality

…And that, I believe, wraps it up.
I will be working on a formal version of this proposal/suggestion/explanation of my passion for non-fiction and academic writing.
Soon there will be something. For now, I am working hard on my MA, utilizing it to the best of my ability. I can assure you (if you’re interested and actually made it to the end) my artwork is not disconnected from this research path.
Thank you so much for reading,
enjoy this historic Friday the 13th,
Molly 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Pat Cawthorn says:

    My goodness some deep thinking here. So interesting to hear how reading and writing is influencing your art. I,m sure the thoughts you have will find their way into writing

    Liked by 1 person

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