From the very beginning, Joyce Carol Oates brings music to the forefront of her widely anthologized short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” with the dedication that simply reads, “For Bob Dylan” (1003). Other people have written on the ways that Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” from Bringing It All Back Home (1965) work in relation to the story. Others, such as Tom Quirk, have discussed “The Pied Piper of Tuscon” Charles Schmid and the ways that he inspired Oates to write the story and construct the character Arnold Friend.
Recently, I taught Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of LýLoc and His Seven Wives (2014) for the first time, and during this read through, I began to think about the topic of the American Dream even more along with colonization and intrusion. These themes pop up in numerous poems throughout the collection, and I have written about them before. Today, though, I want to focus on “Fidèle,” a poem that appears later in the book and talks about Pham and her family’s new life in North Louisiana.
Over that past 14-15 years, I have attended numerous academic conferences, typically 1-2 per year. That means I have gone to about 28-30 during that time span. Initially, when I would go to a conference, even one with hundreds of people, I would feel alone and somewhat isolated because, as a graduate student and instructor, I did not necessarily know how to take full advantage of the opportunities a conference environment provides in the forms of intellectual and pedagogical discussions and in regards to networking. Over the years, I learned how to become more engaged while attending conferences, but even then, I still felt alone at times, especially if i did not attend the conference with anyone that i knew.