In August and September 2017, I used the funds generously provided by the British Association for American Studies to cover the cost of travel to New York, NY and New Haven, CT for archival research at New York University and Yale.
The trip divided into two parts. First, I spent two weeks at NYU’s Fales library, working through the previously unsorted papers of Chris Kraus, particularly diaries, drafts, and promotional materials relating to her first novel, I Love Dick (1997). During this time, I learnt a great deal about the composition, reception, and 2006 republication of that novel and viewed several illuminating legal documents relating to the libel charges made by ‘Dick’ against Kraus’ infamously autofictional text. Material gathered in this archive will be invaluable to a future conference paper and journal article on Kraus and her contemporary, Dodie Bellamy, whose archive I also visited at Yale.
Second, while at Fales, and with the kind help of their librarians, I was lucky enough to access several previously unpublished zines by a variety of lesser known and largely forgotten women writers from the 1980s and 90s. For several days, I was also able to travel to New Haven and visit the Dodie Bellamy archive housed in Yale’s Beinecke library. Whilst there, I found correspondence between Bellamy and Kraus, verifying a link between the two authors that I hope to explore in the above-mentioned conference paper and journal article and which will provide the foundation for a larger research project on women’s life-writing, experimental fiction, and contemporary publishing communities.
The support of BAAS and the Founders’ Research Award provided crucial funding for a highly productive and motivational research trip that has kick-started a major research project and my second monograph. I am extremely grateful to BAAS, and to the committee who granted me the award, for the funds and above all for the opportunity to complete such a formative research trip, from which both myself and my future research has benefitted immensely.
Rachel Sykes is Lecturer in Contemporary American Literature at the University of Birmingham