"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Monday, July 25, 2011

Research Update and Project Outline

So here's another in my series of research updates aimed at tracking Project Dissertation-to-Book -- a series of posts mainly to keep me honest about my efforts but perhaps of interest to anyone working on a similar project, especially independently.

On Saturday, I finally made it up Grad U Library to return two Whole Foods bags full of books I could have (and should have) returned months ago. I don't know why I was hanging onto them. I had this crazy idea that once I got my head back into the project I might need them. But that was because I took a very long time getting my head back into the project after my defense last year. Once I finally did (within the last month or so) -- and made a new reading list for the project -- I realized I would not have any use for them and could always check them out again anyway should I need to.

So, thanks to Peaches and his air-conditioned car, back to the library they went. I also brought my new book list with me and checked out 5 books (off a list of 40 or so) I need to look over. Why so few? Because, with my new status as alumni borrower rather than faculty/grad student, I can keep books out for only a relatively short time. I need to efficiently go through what I check out from now on, take notes on what I need, perhaps make photocopies of parts I might want to revisit, and get the books back to the library. Plus, there was a stack I forgot to bring back that need to go back before August 1st. I need to get done with these 5 this week and then go back for more.

I've also been thinking about how the book needs to differ from the dissertation -- what needs to be revised, added, etc. Thinking about this before was a bit overwhelming, but, having actually begun the process of moving ahead, it seems much less so. What I have to do is actually not that overwhelming at all.

In a nutshell, here's an outline of what I have in relation to what I need to do:

Introduction to X
Parts of the original intro I like a lot and will keep, but a revised intro needs more contextualization, mostly historical. A lot of the material on my new reading list (a lot of which has been published between 2010 and 2011, i.e. after my diss was done) is aimed at this, at doing a better job of framing the project. Not the most exciting work but certainly not overwhelming.

Part One: Early Literary Responses to X
Chapter 1: In-depth discussion of Author A. This is done. Will change very little in the original except to cite a few important critics I left out. Mostly in footnotes.

Chapter 2: Discussion of authors B, C, and D who were contemporaries of A. Author B is done. C and D need to be written and all woven together. This chapter will take some work. A chunk of my reading list is devoted to this chapter. It will take some time but is absolutely manageable. This is the part I will work on first.

Part Two: Texts That Use X to Re-Imagine Past and Present
Chapter 3: Authors E and F that use X to look at the past. This is 100% done. A short version is a published article. No revisions here -- this is my favorite chapter, and I like it as is (and readers have responded similarly)

Chapter 4: Author G that uses X to look at the present. This chapter is mostly (and possibly all the way) done. What's already written does not need revision. Again, it's already published (was actually my first publication), but I think I may need to add another seection that contextualizes Author G within hir genre. My committee didn't think this was necessary for the diss, but I think it might be for the book. We'll see. Will deal with the intro, Chapter 2, and Chapter 6 first and then reevaluate.

Part Three: Texts That Use X to Think About the Future
Chapter 5: Authors H and I. This is 90% done. A condensed portion is a published article. It doesn't need major revision in terms of things I left out or that need to be substantively changed, but the prose could probably use some tightening up.

Chapter 6: Author J. This is completely new. Will be written from scratch. The primary text is one I love and really want to write about but didn't for the diss because I had written enough (page-wise) and didn't want to step outside of national boundaries. This author lies outside the project's original national boundaries, but I think I can make a case for including this text. It's an appropriate way to end. Considerable work here, but I think I wii enjoy doing it.

My original conclusion is OK but very short. Needs a little more substance. A little more writing -- not at all taxing. Will worry about this (and probably write it in a day) when the rest of the revision is done.

So, that's that. I have plans, and I have books. What else does one need?

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