Research Assumptions

Some twenty years ago I reached a crossroads in my life (though, like most such events, the fact seems more apparent in retrospect than it was at the time).

I’d recently moved to the lower North Island to take up a position at the college there. At the end of the first year, though, my employers felt able only to offer me halftime work for the upcoming semester.

On a trip up north to my alma mater, I mentioned this fact to one of my old professors, who promptly offered me a fulltime job at the university there instead. My immediate impulse was to make the move, shaking the dust of the less grateful of the two institutions off my feet.

The decision wasn’t solely mine to make. I was married, had responsibilities … It hadn’t been easy for my French-speaking wife to get a job in our new town, and I wasn’t sure how she’d react to the idea of resigning again so soon (even though – somewhat paradoxically – she was being employed to teach NZ studies, of all things …)

In the end we stayed. “And that has made all the difference.”

It contributed, I’m sure, to the eventual demise of our relationship, a few years later. The place was just too small, too far from metropolitan pleasures and stimuli to interest her longterm. She started to hanker for Europe, and while I shared her frustration at the geographical and social bounds surrounding us, they didn’t chafe me quite so badly.

A certain timorousness can overcome one when one enters the Academic life: a conviction that another such job will be hard to find, a reluctance to go back out into the marketplace to hawk one’s wares …

I procrastinated, temporised, bargained – and, as a result, lost her for good.

I understand how unusual an opening this may seem for this account of my Academic research over the past five years, but I don’t know how else to account for the precise nature of the investigations I’ve been conducting during this period into a virtually unquantifiable what might have been … Much of the material here falls into my field of specialisation: literature of the Early Modern era (approx. 16-17th century), but I’ve also strayed into local history, abnormal psychology and parapsychology.

Let me explain further:

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