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Studying with Saccio

My thesis, "When the Periphery Comes Knocking: the Dramatic and Narrative Power of the Returned Exile in Shakespearean Drama," focused on what was at the time something largely unstudied. I noticed that a number of characters are exiled for a variety of reasons, but that many do not remain the marginal characters we would expect. Instead, they return from the periphery, often in some form of disguise, to the center from which they have been banished.

Buchberger '04
Buchberger '04

That center can be literal - a kingdom, a country - or figurative - a social rank, for instance. Once they return, they often have a great deal of influence. In several cases, the returned exile has more power than he or she did as a central character.

The two terms I spent with Peter Saccio researching and then writing my honors thesis were the most rewarding of my time at Dartmouth. Peter has a quiet way of allowing a thesis writer to work in his own way. During our meetings, he let me talk out whatever idea I was struggling with, taking pains to be sure my thesis would always remain my work. That said, his facility with the text of the plays and his familiarity with Shakespearean criticism greatly simplified the task of narrowing my focus and finding other resources to consult.

Once, about two weeks into the spring term of my senior year, Peter looked at me during one of our meetings and said, "these discussions are lovely and you certainly have enough material, but I think perhaps you ought to consider WRITING something." It was precisely the spur I needed, and not a minute too soon.

Two months and one hundred-some-odd pages later, Peter had helped me transform an unruly collection of observations into a coherent work. He spent countless hours reading draft after draft and poring over texts to provide me with additional material.

In the end, my abilities as a close reader and critic - in short, my measure as an English major - are summarized in the pages of my honors thesis. Peter's imprint is there, too, informing from the periphery and never intruding on the center.


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Last Updated: 5/30/08