¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 I could scarcely believe how simultaneously comfortable and productive the first meeting of my dissertation committee was. My advisor, Professor Stephen Cushman, introduced me to the villanelle and to the work of Elizabeth Bishop in his superb lectures for History of Twentieth-Century Literature in English, and his Fictions of Form was highly important to my thinking. He also took me on as a dissertation student when I half expected him to turn me down, and when he was very busy with other commitments. Like Professor Cushman, my second reader, Professor Mark Edmundson, gave me by example the courage to be unfashionably individualist in my scholarship with great books like Nightmare on Main Street and Teacher. He also came to hear me play the guitar once, which was cool. Professor Lisa Russ Spaar of the Creative Writing Program offered a friendly ear and insight into the culture of creative writing, and Professor Mary McKinley of the French Department was particularly indispensable when I was preparing to write Chapter One.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Professor Alison Booth was a role model from the very first. Professor Jerome McGann offered advice on directions for a project and read my attempts to formulate one. Professor David Vander Meulen first introduced me to the principles of bibliography and was no less than essential to the development of the historical collation that forms Appendix III. Professor Michael Bishop of Dalhousie University at Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada answered my questions on contemporary French poetry via e-mail. Professor Julie Kane of Northwestern State University at Natchitoches in Lousiana wrote a great dissertation that sparked my imagination, wrote a great manuscript of poetry that ditto, and wrote me very fully and satisfyingly back when I wrote to her, which she certainly didn’t have to do.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The English Department gave me employment as well as education for many years: first as a work-study student with office jobs, research assistantships, and graderships, then as a graduate instructor. In conjunction with the Teaching + Technology Initiative, they funded my position as Teaching with Technology Support Partner for three years. The Rossetti Archive and the Electronic Text Center at Alderman Library also gave me paid work marking up texts in SGML and XML. The UVa branch of the Minority Medical Education Program gave me summer work for four years teaching medical school applicants to write personal essays for their medical school applications. Every single one of these jobs did more than pay the bills; all of them were challenging and enjoyable and sometimes moving, and all of them gave me much to ponder about life and language and the relationship between them.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The Interlibrary Loan office at the University of Virginia Library labored tirelessly on my behalf. The University of Virginia Library in general amazed me with its seemingly endless resources—its stacks, its Special Collections, its diverse services, and its technological sophistication. The OCLC FirstSearch database WorldCat and the Eureka RLG Union Catalog (formerly the RLIN Bibliographic File) seemed omniscient. ISIResearchSoft’s bibliographic software program EndNote organized and formatted everything for me; I can’t imagine working without it.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Michelle Allen, June Griffin, Elizabeth Outka, Lisa Spiro, and Virginia Zimmerman (now all anointed Ph.D.s!) held my hand patiently through several years of a project that I eventually chose to abandon; my memories of that project are now colored with distaste, but my memories of our dissertation group are green and gold, like spinach and garlic, and are some of the best memories of my life. Gangs of women dedicated to a professional vocation are too rare; the members of that group all know how special those meetings were. My close friends Margaret Gardiner, Danny Schmidt, Janus Raphaelidis, Jan Smith, Browning Porter, Jeff Romano, Paul Curreri, and Devon Sproule, on the other hand, might not know that they’ve enriched my intellectual life every bit as much as they have my social life. I appreciate and admire their talents, their ambitions, their principles, and their constancy more than I can say.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Finally, I would like to thank my mother: firstly that she conceived me, secondly that she bore me, thirdly that she raised me, fourthly that she also did all the same for my beloved brother Sam, fifthly that she discreetly supplemented my income when I needed it (which was often), and lastly because she is in her own right an energetic, generous woman with the strength to start all over again.