18 December 2009

A Gonzo Christmas

One of the things that has kept me from blogging is that I am trying to get into a PhD program. I have been accepted into a non-degree program while I get my materials together and once they are in I can petition for degree status. The process is interesting, but that isn't the point of this post.

My focus when I start taking classes and preparing for a dissertation will have something to do with the study of creative nonfiction. I'm fascinated with the research that is involved with this form of writing and I hope to translate what I learn into something for my Basic Writing and First-Year Composition courses. It is unfortunate that the way many students relate to research is wretched. There is little to no investment in the investigation and there is no sense of ownership.

After reading an interview with Gay Talese in The Paris Review I started to make the connection between New Journalism and creative nonfiction as a form of invested research writing. A contemporary of Talese and the New Journalism movement was Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson invented/discovered his own form of writing called Gonzo Journalism.

I've read a few of Thompson's books and as an English professor what I love about them is that his research has no limits. He pushes the topic into strange and unconventional areas. He's just starting where many researchers would stop. Sometimes what he discovers about his topic and himself can be jarring, but it's real and it's his.

The other day when thinking about what to read over winter break, a colleague brought in a box of books he was looking to unload. In the bottom of the box was a copy of Thompson's Hell's Angles: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs. I'm about 100 pages into it—I should be grading finals, but shit this dude was good. If I remember I'll give you all a review when I'm finished.


our friend Ben said...

Go Kelly go!!! Wish I could read your dissertation---it's bound to be a fun ride!

Kelly said...

I have yet to meet anyone who said the dissertation process was fun. I'll do what I can to be the first:)