Sometimes dissertation progress does not move in a straight line.
I am often reminded of the Family Circus panels where Billy seems incapable of going from point A to B in a straight line.
That was me the last couple of weeks. It's been busy, all good, but frenetic, busy.
I worked all last week and weekend turning around a revise and resubmit. The feedback and notes were great, so I was happy to work on it. Sent it off to the editor Sunday. And he liked it, but it was 2,000 words over their limit so Monday I had to cut, and cut, and cut. Always amazes me that I think all the words are precious and then I start editing. And realize they're not.
Then, I spent this past weekend working on my Milton chapter (even though the calendar doesn't have that scheduled until the end of July) because there was a journal essay prize I wanted to submit it to. So I first addressed all the notes from my director, then I completely reorganized it (as she suggested). Then I had to cut it down.
The bonus is that I just need to add an introduction that ties it to the Shakespeare chapter than comes before it, and add the Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes parts to the end but the chapter is mostly done. Which is good.
So I submitted that Sunday which was good because the deadline is Tuesday. Because I really need to get back to the pamphlet chapter. Then Monday got an email from the editor that it was over word count and they'd unsubmitted my manuscript until I fixed it. So yesterday I spent the morning fixing that, and resubmitting.
Then I FINALLY was able to get back to the pamphlet chapter.
But I spent a lot of the day struggling. Because it's a lot to look at- 179 pamphlet covers, divided into eight subtopics.
What I was writing was rough.
I have a lot of pieces like this:
The references to treason in 1606, are easy to connect to Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators being executed for the events of the Gunpowder Plot.
Which yes, is true, and yes, is an application of psychoanalytic folklore studies and historicism, but BLECH. It's too bald. To inelegant.
But I pounded through all the subtopics yesterday, identifying patterns and just writing. Because progress is progress.
I finally finished by early afternoon. And I have a solid 24 pages of analysis that needs a lot of finesse. But didn't see a way to fix the above mess. So rather than force it, which just results in hours spent undoing, I decided to start reading some of the secondary sources I was going to use. I thought it was reading I had to do anyway, and it might provide something to job my writing. I started with Alexandra Halasz's The Marketplace of Print: Pamphlets and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England.
The book is older (1997) but had some great stuff. It also provided me with a methodology for how to fix my problem.
The first is that I can fix the chunkiness of the above statements by grounding them and situating them amongst scholarship and a greater historical lens.
But all that is just the ramp up, the big picture. The heart of the chapter is going to be an analysis of Pierce Penniless. It's a perfect encapsulation of all the topics I need to discuss, and this grounding in the text will keep the analysis from being all over the place. It will also connect to the bigger picture ideas while not losing focus.
So, today I have to run up to Santa Fe, so it's a dead day work wise, but I plan on knocking out some smaller secondary readings (about all I'll have time for by the time I get back). And tomorrow I'll start digging into the analysis of Pierce Penniless.
So, that's the progress, and the way through.
I need to finish the pamphlet chapter this upcoming week. Then I move onto two weeks of working on expanding the Shakespeare chapter from conference to chapter, which should be easier because the conference paper is solid. Then the last week in July is to add those bits to the Milton chapter, and then send chapters 4-6 off to my director.