[In hopes of documenting my thesis process, I will keep a log of my experience while I work. These entries are by no means a comprehensive look into all I have to say for this topic but I hope these informal summaries and reflections will help me organize my thoughts and clarify what I am doing as I work towards my MFA in Costume Design. For those of you who will be joining me on my journey, please ask questions and I hope this will give you a peek into my creative process.]
As of this moment, I'm in the midst of researching the story and writing the draft of my paper. These are just some thoughts as I move along.
The last couple weeks consisted of reading, watching, and listening to interviews of Philip Pullman. The more I read about and from him, the more I like the guy. He is a man committed to storytelling and I agree with many of his personal philosophies in the democracy of reading, the importance of storytelling to answer or explore the "big questions" of human existence and purpose, and in telling children's stories about "how to grow up, not how to remain childish." He writes through metaphorical thought, or as he says "thinking by analogy," something I believe is essential. I like his honesty and awareness. I like that he allows individuals to make their own decisions about his work.
One of my favorite things to do is literary analysis. My hands itch to annotate and my brain yearns to research. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle together and the pieces are...everywhere. I usually read or watch a story multiple times if I intend to analyze it. The first is always for first impressions and for the story. Then I go in and read or watch with different intents. It's like revealing layers of knowledge. This particular story is very rooted in biblical works and in mythology. My knowledge in the former is minimal. My knowledge of the latter is slightly more than minimal. I have a lot of research to do. With my time constraints, I probably won't be able to dive in as deep as I want to with background research, but if I were honest with myself my ideal research consists of learning new languages and reading manuscripts and that by normal means is a little crazy.
This week, I'm working on character analyses. One of my favorite elements of His Dark Materials is the complexity character. They each have a story to tell, they all have mythology, and their nature is very much human. No one is completely evil or completely good, they are driven by their experiences and relationships. They are diverse and their purpose in the story is solid. My research into their names is revealing some very interesting insights into history and Pullman's purposes in choosing these names.
While I dig up names and meanings, there are also a few secondary research items I'm slowly accomplishing. The biggest is reading and hopefully having a good understanding of John Milton's Paradise Lost, the main inspiration for HDM. A few other background readings include works by William Blake, and folklore of the aurora.
Some tidbits because they may come up in conversation.
Pullman's companion series to HDM, The Book of Dust (1) La Belle Sauvage will be released this Fall
His Dark Materials is also set to have a BBC series coming out next year
There is also a graphic novel. Omnibus out this September.
The Golden Compass is 22 years old. Here's the anniversary edition because it's a beauty.
Christmas is 5 months away.
Thesis blog series: