Joe Rollins, a Ph.D. student at the University of York, is one of five scholars from the United Kingdom who will be conducting research at the Ransom Center in the next year as part of the 2016–2017 International Placement Scheme (IPS) administered and funded by the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The AHRC provides residential fellowships to doctoral students and early-career researchers from the United Kingdom to study at international libraries and research institutions, and the Ransom Center serves as one of seven host institutions.
Tell us about your research.
My research will focus on the Don DeLillo papers at the Ransom Center, particularly on the holdings that correspond to the author’s novels from the 1990s. This research is intended to contribute to my Ph.D. thesis, which looks at how American fiction in the 1990s experiments with forms of resistance to the dominant politics of the decade. I’m particularly interested in finding out what DeLillo thinks about the figure of the artist and the role of art in this period, especially in terms of art’s social and political impact, and whether his ideas then can tell us something important today.
Which collections at the Ransom Center are most relevant to your research?
The Don DeLillo papers. My research is primarily intended to contribute to the final chapter of my thesis, which will be a single-author study of DeLillo’s three novels written in the “long nineties,” the period 1989–2001.
Outside your primary research interest, are there other collection items at the Ransom Center that you hope to see?
I would also like to see the David Foster Wallace collection.
Can you share a particularly exciting moment of discovery while working in other research libraries or special collections?
This is my first time carrying out research in an archive, but I anticipate many exciting finds. I’m particularly looking forward to reading the correspondence between DeLillo and David Foster Wallace, who I will also be studying as part of my thesis.
Beyond researching, what is at the top of your must-see/do list while in Austin?
I’m lucky enough to be in town for SXSW 2017, so I’ll definitely be attending some of the events (and parties) during the festival. Apart from that, I’m looking forward to exploring the city and immersing myself in American culture, checking out Austin’s famous music scene, the Austin Film Society, and of course eating lots of great BBQ!