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Late Spring To-Do List

  • Read scholarly book #1
  • Read scholarly book #2
  • Catch up on professional journals
  • Administer evaluations
  • Grade seminar research papers
  • Write two final exams
  • Grade final exams
  • Compute final grades
  • Order books for fall
  • Find apartment in New City
  • Attend INRU Commencement!

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Good news/bad news

The good news:
I have five pages of introductory material for chapter one roughed out, and most won't require much revising.

The bad news:
I'm back fucking around with pages 1 & 2 again. The first part of the first paragraph I'm really happy with, but the rest of the set-up--that initial big overview statement of Why This Matters for Scholarship, that should come around the bottom of page one--is still causing me trouble. I don't know why; I mean, I have a very solid analysis of the most important text already written, and a rougher analysis of the secondary text, and I'm very clear on why I'm looking at these two particular works and how they relate--but somehow I'm having a hard time framing the issues for this author's entire oeuvre, and for the period as a whole.

I guess that's part of the problem: this is the first chapter, so I feel that in addition to setting up the material in this chapter, I also need to be thinking about how it leads into the other three (I do plan to write an approximately 10-page introduction to the diss as a whole, but there are bigger scholarly/disciplinary/theoretical fish to fry there).

And maybe another part of the problem is that the two works I'm looking at are a little odd--one of them is virtually unread, even by scholars who work on this dude, and the other one, though much beloved by those who have read it all the way through, is more frequently excerpted for a few pretty passages. Neither one is what this author is really known for writing; they're generically and structurally problematic; and the scholarship on both is relatively limited. So I guess I feel that I want to make a larger claim about how they relate to the rest of Author's works, and why they're sophisticated and fascinating texts in their own right--and I haven't really had to do this in my other chapters (where it's clearer why I'm looking at the particular works that I am), though they'll definitely benefit from this kind of Big Claim.

Anyway, it's tiring.

(It occurs to me that I haven't really described my dissertation's shape, and if you've read this far you may be curious. Basically, I'm tracing a particular literary and intellectual-historical phenomenon that I see happening in my period, & that has implications for certain other periods and genres, using a one chapter/one author format. All of four of my authors are pretty well-known, with one being a lynchpin of the canon and another being a survey-course staple; the other two are less familar to a nonspecialist--though one is strangely more popular on Amazon.com right now than he is in the college classroom.

HOWEVER, the specific works I'm dealing with, though they're all still in print, are not nearly as well-beloved as their authors. My diss examines eight or nine works at length, of which many scholars in my field may only have read two or three all the way through. So, I feel as though I'm really trying to reclaim these works and others of a similar nature, as literature, at the same time that I'm trying to make detailed and interesting arguments about them and their authors on an individual basis. And at the moment that just feels like a lot of plates to keep in the air.)

Other bad news
I really really really don't want to go back to Schmancy tomorrow.

It's hot and gross out.

I'm facing up to the fact that I'm going to have to start teaching--new courses, at an all-new place--in just over a month.

I'm not getting nearly enough sleep, and I'm cranky.

I don't know when I'm going to get around to doing my laundry. Possibly tomorrow, when I get back from Schmancy. At 7 p.m. In the heat. Ugh.

I need a vacation!

link | posted by La Lecturess at 12:12 PM |


Blogger BrightStar commented at 8:49 AM~  

I recommend leaving 1 & 2 alone. They'll need to be changed again at the end when you're done, anyhow. :) I wrote my chapter 1 last, or next to last, I think. It's good to have a draft, sure, but leave it at that for now.

Unless another strategy works for you. What worked for me may not work for others, and perhaps this strategy works better in some fields rather than others.

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