Thursday, April 17, 2008

research paper... on fiction?

I'm attempting to put together a research paper about Anna Karenina, specifically, the psychology of Anna and Kitty's illnesses, which are caused more by psychosocial stress than anything physical. But stress affects people physically! That is the least of my worries. I feel weird saying that characters in a novel exhibit features of a mental illness. Am I trying to diagnose a made-up person? The world of fiction is separate from ours! I am imposing science's reality on Tolstoy's diagetic reality, and it isn't jiving with me. "Not jiving" is a poor excuse though, so I'm going to have to write the paper anyway, even though I disagree with the whole idea.

Why am I having such a hard time with this paper? My last research paper practically birthed itself, although then I was mostly summing up research rather than analyzing a text with the analysis supported by research. The two epistemologies are so different! Writing this paper is like trying to explain why we like apples by putting a slice under a microscope and describing its structure. It's just so much easier and makes so much more sense to be superficial... the apple tastes good because it's sweet, there. Granted, it doesn't take up 12 pages...

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Ugh, I hate writing a paper that I don't agree with. It just feels like robot words instead of actual passion. Sorry school makes you do things like that. :-) But, on the other hand, at least fictional characters can't be offended that you're psychoanalyzing them. ^_^