This conversation is totally imaginary, but totally plausible; thus, like all fiction, making it at least as true as anything that has actually taken place.
Karen: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me to discuss the potential of my PhD candidacy.
Academic Dude (AD): No problem at all … [added under breath] … it’s what I’m paid to do.
Karen: Excuse me?
AD: Nothing. Now tell me what you have in mind. [Reaches for a piece of paper.] It says here that in the past you expressed an interest in a specific avenue of postgraduate study.
Karen: That’s correct.
AD: And what was the subject?
Karen: It was going to be a feminist-slash-critical-slash-cultural-studies-flavoured reading of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
AD: This is no longer of interest?
Karen: Oh, it is. I just figured it has been done to death already. “She saved the world. A lot.” But, hey, it’s over now.
AD: In any case, I feel I need to explain that at this particular university we prefer our research students to continue on in the field in which they began. Your Masters thesis was on Post-Freudian Psychoanalytic Literary Theory in Gothic Literature.
Karen: In a nutshell, yeah …
AD: You don’t sound too enthused.
Karen: I suppose I’m still a little Freud-fatigued.
AD: So that’s a ‘no’?
Karen: I’m just afraid of becoming too specialised, I guess.
AD: Um – this is a PHD. That’s the POINT. [AD picks up a pencil and starts to nibble the end where the eraser is missing. Presumably already eaten.]
Karen: That’s why I was wanting to ask how creative I can get with my scope of it. Or at least have someone as a sounding-board for my ideas.
AD: And what are they?
Karen: I’m sure I could do it in creative writing, which is what I primarily want, and make the exegesis literally drip with lit theory – because I really miss that, actually – in such a way that will be publishable on its own merits, aside from the creative writing part which will, obviously, kick ass. Somehow, someway, I want to weave all the below in because I love them all and can’t decide. Think CULTURAL MASH-UP.
In no particular order I’d like to study:
The concept of ‘The Renaissance Man’ as it has been redefined by James Franco
Literature in the Fin de siècle era
The friendship of Hemingway and Fitzgerald
The Australian bush and how it is depicted and conveyed in a genderised sense [AD: YAWN]
Buffy [Karen: I still like it!]
The rise of post-apocalyptic fiction
How does that sound?
AD: [Takes a moment to flicker a look of distaste before turning to gaze out the window. Outside, the branch of a eucalyptus tree dips up and down from the wind. He begins to mutter...] … I could be writing my novel right now. I could be at home, revising that chapter. It will be great! It will be my making! Instead, no. I’m here.
Karen: Oh! I’ve thought of something else! ZOMBIES!
AD: [Folds his arms across each other on the table, puts his head down and starts to cry.]
Karen: I’m thinking I need to go think about it some more?
AD: [Still face down, nods.]
Karen: Fair enough. I’ll just see myself out. Thanks for your time!