I have heard it said that literary research is a way to put your thoughts down on paper to help them mature and grow. Well that is what my attempt right now it going to be so I apologize if my thoughts seemed scattered.
As I was thinking about the research I have been doing for James Joyce over the semester I realized a very important fact. Most of that research that I have done did not include very many ‘scholarly sources’. Until last week I don’t think I had gone to the BYU library’s website to look up anything. I was doing informal searches online.
My results I feel were just as good as if I were to look up more official sources. I came across several blogs and other websites that had put up their opinions and interpretations of James Joyce’s Dubliners.(The Chinese Jar, The Reading Life, Mr. Center's Wall)
Literary Criticism is changing because of the digital age. There are so many mediums to consume literature with and so many ways you can find and procure information about the literature you have read. It is not difficult to get online and type a question into the search engine. Within seconds your answer will appear and you will no longer be confused about the issue.
As I was searching for more information about what it meant to be Irish and more about James Joyce’s life I did not have a difficult time finding that information. There were sites dedicated to James Joyce (Ask About Ireland, Ask.com Classic Literature, The James Joyce Society, James Joyce Center. However, if I were to write a formal paper about James Joyce my teachers would not think a blog or some website was official enough to quote. I would then have to change my search and find what I was looking for in a more scholarly location, which always proved more difficult.
Maybe in formal writing secondary sources have remained relatively the same but secondary sources have sprung up everywhere today. People are writing blogs or joining forums to discuss the books that they have been reading. They are not scholars but some of them make the same points that a scholarly paper does. Secondary sources are changing from the formal to informal, from inactive to interactive, and from unsocial to social.
In my research I was able to contact several people about their readings of James Joyce. I felt like this was very useful in my research. One blog I came across was from a woman who actually lived in Ireland. It was interesting to see that her perspective on Dubliners changed as she spent more time in Ireland. She noted, just as James Joyce did, that people in Ireland do experience a sort of paralysis or at least a loyalty to their country and a reluctance to leave it. (C'est la Vie)
As we research our reading also changes. There are so many things that we can look at using the Internet. I found a video that incorporated two stories from Dubliners as well as someone’s creative story based on “Araby” (Link to Video, Link to story). After reading the story and watching the video I had a different perspective of the stories involved.
“Araby” is about a boy who is infatuated with his friend’s sister. He has elevated her in his head and thinks being in love is this great thing. He is so head-over-hills that he offers to go to the bazaar, Araby, for her to get a gift. To him this market possess a “magical name” as if he is on a quest to some magical place for the one he loves. His illusion his shattered when he arrives and he realizes as the story closes that he is “a creature driven and derided by vanity.” The story drops off there and we are left to wonder about the boy and what happened to him afterwards. Did he go back to his crush? Did he grow out of his boyhood fantasies?
The story that I came across a story about “Araby” answer some of those questions that I had. Jude Mai had written this story for an English class as an attempt to continue on the story. She had then published her story on a fan fiction website. Fanfiction.net or Fictionpress.net are two places that people can recreate or create their own story. These sites have enabled my reading of certain stories to alter and change. It gives the audience a fresh perspective on characters that they are familiar with and a chance to see how other people view and interpret the characters.
In Jude Mai's story our young hero was just returning from Araby. As he was leaving the train station he spots the girl that he was infatuated with in the arms of another man. Jude Mai writes of the boys heart being crushed. But then at the end of her story the boy declares that it no longer matters because he is in love with someone else. I think it is an interesting take on the story of "Araby." The boy continues to go through these fleeting feels for these girls as if going to the bazaar had elicited no change in him.
The evolution of secondary sources are changing our interpretations and reading of the text. Just as other forms or creation and recreation of those texts. Like Jude Mai's story has given me more to think about in the character of the boy, other sites have also answered questions and raised more questions. Knowledge is not limited to what is inside our head any longer. It is so easy to find the information that we need. The real question is are these sources legitimate? I believe that they are. They don't have the stamp of scholarly attributes but they still contribute. We are part of a big collaborative world and most information is within easy reach.