Michael Bogucki’s areas of expertise include modern British and Irish literature, Victorian and modernist performance cultures, narrative theory, and the philosophy of psychology. His current research focuses on the relation between perceiving genre and moral perfectionism in Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett.
As a teacher, Professor Bogucki has always been drawn to a remark Ludwig Wittgenstein made while reading James Frazer’s The Golden Bough:
The historical explanation, the explanation as an hypothesis of development, is only one way of assembling the data--of their synopsis. It is just as possible to see the data in their relation to one another and to embrace them in a general picture without putting it in the form of an hypothesis about temporal development.
It may not be as unforgettable as some of Wittgenstein’s other formulas (i.e. “To imagine a language means to imagine a form of life”), but Professor Bogucki believes it speaks to a different way of thinking about education. In an intensive, student-centered classroom, we can let go of the generalizations others think we should know and instead focus on honing the skills we need to actually see things in relation. Especially in academic writing, we often paralyze ourselves searching for the perfect explanation or “synopsis,” rather than treating writing as a matter of acknowledging and actually conversing with our audience.