Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The End of the First Round of Revisions CH 1-3 of #DevilDiss

Chapter one of #DevilDiss has been kicking my ass all week. In part because having a complete draft I now see all the little seeds I have to plant in this first chapter, and in part because I had great notes from Speculum readers that meant completely rethinking parts.
I also realized early in the week that I needed to completely reorganize the chapter.

So while it's all GOOD work it's been really HARD work this week.

I'm also struggling with some general end of dissertation issues.
  • I don't have a defense date, as it depends on the revisions on this first half of the dissertation. Right now it's probably summer, with the recommendation to take more time than that. I really need it to be spring. Mainly because I can't afford another year of taking out $10-15,000 in student loans to cover what the TA ship doesn't, but also because I'm really struggling with the idea that my writing is so shitty I can't revise a complete draft in less than a year. Plus I'm 40 in February and I'm kind of ready to go back to being an adult with a salary, benefits, and an adult life.
  • I'm applying for fellowships, as back up plans.
  • I'm checking out changing my teaching license from NC as a back up plan.
  • I'm wondering if I have the energy for back up plans.
But this past week has been a whole lot of feeling like this:
 One advantage to just finishing the second week of class though is that students don't quite feel comfortable coming to office hours yet so I had additional time to work on revisions this week.
I managed yesterday to finish all of my handwritten notes on chapter one, except the conclusion. I wanted to finish it ALL but by 530p I'd been working since I got up so I called it quits due to brain fry. Plus, as you can see, I wasn't kidding when I said chapter one needed a lot of work.

So I finished writing the conclusion this morning. This is where my notebook continues to come in handy. I jot notes as I revise, color code Post-Its for sections and so far it's made writing the conclusion, and making those big picture statements, easy.

Then it was just a matter this morning of typing it all up. I was telling someone on Twitter today that for me this is the easy part because I've done all the heavy lifting in the handwritten revision notes, so these days really are just mindless typing, and cutting and pasting as I reorganize.
I've printed it out, and I still have to copyedit it and add footnote and some other secondary sources.
But other than that, I feel comfortable that I'll be able to send this off meeting my end of August deadline.
So that will mean the first of round of revisions on CH 1-3 of #DevilDiss are done and off to the director.

Just as finishing a complete draft felt like a big milestone, so does this. I feel like I addressed all the notes I was given, worked to join the chapters together, and really improved them.

I've reordered the white board for entering the next phase, editing CH 4 and 5 which I got notes from this past week.
But I don't know. Because I felt really good about the second half of the dissertation. I really felt like it was a huge improvement over the first half which I knew was stupidly rough but needed fresh eyes before I could improve it. I thought I made connections, and had good sources. And that was not the case. While the notes are fewer than what I had on the first half, there's still a lot of "complete rethink this" type notes.
And I'm not sure what to do with that. Because today I *feel* good about my CH 1-3 revisions, but I felt good about CH 4-6, so now I don't necessarily trust how I feel about my writing. Which I know in part is what my director and committee are for.

But not trusting how I feel about my writing is translating into not trusting sending chapters to the committee for job market purposes, and not trusting cutting down some of these chapters for writing samples.
And a whole lot of just not trusting anything at this point.
And it also means that I'm not having a lot of confidence in anything else at this point, which makes me nervous about the job market.
As soon as chapter one is copyedited and finished, I'll send it off (by Monday).
I'll spend this week revising chapter four.
I'll spend next week revising chapter five.
I don't have chapter six notes yet, but if I get them between now and then they'll be in the next week.
That means that I will have turned around a complete revision in seven weeks. My deadline for the revisions of the second half is mid-September so committee members can have the most up-to-date rough (but not approved) drafts to inform their letter writing. And I really hope that kind of work ethic counts for something, but more, I want, I need these revisions to be a huge improvement so I can have a defense date.

I figure that's all I can do. All I control is what I do with the notes once I get them, so I'm just staying focused on turning revisions around as quickly as I can and still serve the work.
I certainly thought chapter one was going to be an easy revision because I worked on in a seminar this past spring, and felt really good about it. But Speculum notes, and director notes, and my own distance of a few months meant that it wasn't close to done. So rather than rushing through notes at the beginning of this week and being done, it took twice that to get it where I was happy.
But even now I don't trust that feeling.
But I can't do anything about that.
So I'm going to walk Nehi, who is not happy that another day was spent with me working and her ignored.
I will get up tomorrow and grade the student papers I neglected today, and lesson plan for the week, which I also neglected today because I needed to get these revisions done.
Then with some fresher eyes I'll copyedit, add the footnotey stuff, and secondary sources and hope it's good, and send it off.
Here's hoping each step in the revision process shows major improvement.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chapter Three Revisions of #DevilDiss Finished and the First Week of Class

Despite being derailed/delayed this week by a stomach bug that lasted too long, I managed this morning to finish my chapter three #DevilDiss revisions and send it off to my director.
I'm going to take the rest of the day off. I have been working through weekends all of August, so I think I'm due.
Especially as I feel like this:

I tweeted earlier this week that I seem to have lost the ability to read for pleasure. I was able to do it this summer. I think it's part of this revision process that I just don't have a lot of time off, so when I have it my brain is oatmeal and I'm pretty much just capable of zoning out to Criminal Minds and Law and Order  and Law and Order: SVU marathons.
On the plus side, when I lived in NYC I had to stop watching Law and Order because it freaked me out to watch how easy it was for people to break into your apartment and kill you. So I'm over that!
But I do think that revision space is a separate space from writing.
I've woken up at 3a a couple of times to jot down notes I need to address, footnotes to add, a way to fix a problematic portion. I didn't do that when I was drafting.

I'm not sure how I feel about these revisions either. I know they're a huge improvement over the initial drafts, and I addressed my director's notes, and definitely think chapters two and three functions better together now, and set up the second half of the book better. But still have a nagging "not sure" feeling.

But they're done, and this week I just have chapter one to revise, and then the entire first half will be revised and done.
That leaves me on track to spend September and October on job market materials and applications with the goal of those being finished by the end of October, when I think I'll have chapter four through six notes, and aim for turning those around by the end of November.
I think too the uncertainty of the revision process is part of my uneasy feeling. I don't know how these revisions will go, how many rounds I'll have to do, how each phase will affect the project as a whole. I figure the best I can do is the best I can do. Do my best work, and stick to my timeline of turning things around as quickly as possible.
There was a New York Times article today about first generation students. And I emphasized. My parents didn't stay a week (we lived two hours away) but the rest rang true. And I feel the same about getting my PhD. There seems like there are a lot of rules, or knowledge that first generation students like me don't know. I don't know how this process works, and there's a lot that you can't find the answer to online.

In other news, the first week of classes despite feeling sick, was great. I am super excited about the Early English survey, which I think will be a lot of fun, and seems like a really great group of students.
I'm trying some new approaches to the semester that also seem to be going well.
I also tweeted tips and tricks for starting the new semester off in a positive manner, #First10Days.
I'm trying not to get upset by the flurry of posts and tweets that focus on student shaming and negative tones. I'm all for sharing things that work in teaching but not telling students not to do things "just because."
But I also had a fairly simple epiphany this morning. I don't need to follow these people. I don't need to listen to people who shake their fingers at students who want to use laptops of phones in class, or people who think lecturing all the time is fine, or otherwise take a "kids these days" approach. I will never convince people that being student focused, transparent, and geared towards teaching doesn't mean I'm not rigorous or lowering my standards. So why would I try? People who are spending their week screaming "It's in the syllabus" and looking down on students they just met are not people who are ever going to think differently.
So I'm just going to ignore them. I deleted and unfollowed  bunch this morning. Because I can use that energy for something else.
So that's it for today, and I'm taking the rest of the day off...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Derailed Work Days

Today I had a bad social media day.
A PNM meter reader who was not only rude, but called me a liar.
My insurance wouldn't let me enroll online, so I spent time on the phone enrolling, then had to call back because I also needed to enroll in the dental.

This was on top of a week where I've been sick, the first week of classes incidentally, where I spent a good portion of my time wondering if I was going to be violently ill in front of my classes as a first impression.

I blog a lot about the process of a PhD and teaching. And weeks like this impact our work. If you're like me, simple interactions (like my bad social media morning) can put you in a funk all day.

There are lots of ways to break bad days or writer's block. For some people a walk, yard work, housework, anything that jostles you out of the routine works.
For me, work works.

I have the same schedule every day. Nehi gets me up between 5-6a. We get up, I start coffee, we got for a 40 minute walk, I come home, she gets breakfast, and I sit down with coffee and start work. Regardless of how bad the day is I am at my desk until 4 or 5p on days I work from home.

There are lots of days I sit and stare at my computer. There are some days where I get a lot done. Regardless I'm not allowed to leave my desk. Most days I realize that because I know I can't leave my desk I eventually end up working on things and getting things done.

This week I needed to get my chapter three revisions finished. I managed because of office hour time to get all my handwritten notes done by yesterday so all I need to do today istype up these notes and add secondary sources as needed.
The good thing is this is fairly mindless work. I've already done all the heavy lifting/thinking/arguing with the handwritten notes.

Which is good because I don't think I have anything left in me this week.
If I can type all this up today I can look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow for final edits, then lesson plan, take Sunday off, and on Monday start chapter one revisions.

And of course this is all predicated on me actually feeling better not worse the next few days.
So not how I would like the first week of classes to go, but these things are all real life things. And they impact how we feel when lesson planning, grading, writing, planning, etc. As much as we would all like to say we're superheroes with capes, it doesn't always work out that way.

The plus side of this week has been my classes. The "Here Be Monsters" themed Survey of Early English is off to a great start, and the ENGL 110 class paired with the acting class is always fun. So I'm excited about both of those.

And I'm still on track for my #DevilDiss revisions, so I'm not panicked about that.

I think too that when juggling so much, and stressed about so much, sometimes little things trigger major meltdowns.
I like to turn into the skid, have my meltdown, then get back to work.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

First #DevilDiss Chapter Revisions

The last two weeks I have juggled attending the job seeker's workshop with working on #DevilDiss revisions. The workshop was really helpful, and it was great to have another set of eyes on stuff, but it was a weird schedule to be on right before the semester.
And it certainly impacted my revision schedule.

I finished handwritten notes on chapter two earlier this week. Then I just needed to go back through and add secondary sources, mostly footnote stuff. The good part about this was I had the articles and books already annotated, so I just had to go through the pile of stuff. This also meant I was able to prioritize my filing box to only include current revision drafts and the secondary sources I put in the chapter went into the box.
Because I used part of chapter two in my writing sample, I also got additional notes on it from the job seeker's workshop. One of which was a great book on England post Norman Conquest (Elaine Treharne's Living Through Conquest) which I ordered, and added yesterday and today. It was a great piece to really help me situate and bridge the historical introduction I had in my chapter with the analysis.

I know this revised chapter is a huge improvement over the first. Part of that is because having finished a complete draft I am in a better place to put in throughlines and understand how the dissertation works as a whole. The notes I got were incredibly helpful. And I spent a lot of time of this.
But I'm still nervous. Because there's a lot riding on this.
In order to make a spring/summer defense with a 2-3 month turn around on drafts the only way I can make that deadline is to cut down on the number of revision cycles necessary. So this draft needs to be really close to done. And that's a lot of pressure. I've also always had issues with copyediting, stemming from always missing grammar instruction with constantly moving in middle school. And the advice of "find a friend" doesn't work because I don't have any. I don't have a writing group who will read my drafts and give me input. I'm doing this alone. So chalk that up to something else that is hard when doing this alone with no support network.

So I feel good about the chapter 2 revised draft.
And I sent it off to my director.
Except I also feel like I have two voices in my head- one that tells me that the draft is good, and it's a big jump in improvement. The other one tells me it's full of errors, and I'm going to get negative feedback on its condition. And that will push my defense and that will impact my job chances and that impacts my whole life.
I'm learning it's really easy to spiral out of control at this point.

But let's try to regain our zen- the revision is done, it's sent off, it's time to move on.

So this semester I only teach Tuesday and Thursday so Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are dedicated #DevilDiss days. This week I need to revise chapter 3, the personality and actions of the devil in medieval and early modern popular literature.
I have about the same amount of notes to address, and some of the same goals as chapter 2:
  • pull the Milton framing out
  • make sure that the title is mentioned in opening as a focus on important ideas
  • add explanation/emphasis on "fracturing" of folk that I revisit later in the Milton chapter
  • Resituate some of the discussions about the seven deadly sins and how this relates to the devil
  • same note as for chapter 2, I need to interact more with secondary sources and add footnotes that demonstrate the breadth and depth of my reading
My goal is to finish these revisions this week.

On a separate but related note, this was a hard week personally.
I don't understand people who are passive aggressive, or not nice, or don't seem to understand why I'm privileging dissertation revisions over everything else.
I think only being on campus twice a week to teach will help me stay focused on finishing the revisions, and keep in mind what is important. I just need to remind myself to #AlwaysBeToby

I'm really worried about the job market. Which I imagine is natural. I'm worried two out of my three committee members that are here at UNM are not here this year. And the third has taken on extra duties. I'm worried about having one on one advising this semester with job questions. I'm worried I don't have a face to face support network for this really hard year.
I'm worried that the job market and finishing the dissertation seems guided by rules of privilege that I know nothing about as a first generation college student who is maybe a millimeter above white trash.
I'm worried that this is another whole set of things that are going to be infinitely harder because I'm on my own.
Although I have to tell you that I am incredibly grateful to my Twitter support network who the last week has encouraged my blogging here, taught me how to clean up my leather bag for interviews, and looked at job market materials.

I am trying to focus on positives.
I have most of my job market materials done. I have some revisions to make to my research statement, but I'm waiting to revise writing samples until the chapters are approved, figuring there's no reason to do it piecemeal.
There have been a couple of fun job ads that while I understand not getting excited about, would still be cool.
Classes start Tuesday, and I'm excited about both classes I'm teaching.
Nehi is recovering well from her surgery.

So I'm trying to stay focused on the tangible- my deadlines and timelines for revisions. The progress I've made on job market stuff. The ads so far that I can apply for.
Onwards and upwards...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Women and Campus Safety

In the episode "The Wish" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cordelia wishes the Slayer had never come to town and her timeline magically resets to reflects this. Sunnydale without a slayer means curfews, high death rates and people dressing in bland, boring clothes so as not to attract a vampire's eye. When Cordelia shows up to school in her normal, revealing clothes Harmony asks her what's up with the "come bite me outfit."
Cordelia is of course killed.

This keeps running round and round in my head because UNM the past year has been the subject of investigations because of its campus safety (or lack thereof) and in the last week there have been three instances where women have been groped/intimidated on campus. The suspect flees and other than the Lobo Alerts I get on my phone, I've heard nothing else about it.

Now, I bring up the Cordelia story because it highlights an unpopular idea, the fine line between victim blaming and realistic actions.
Do I believe that women should be able to walk around a college campus dressed in whatever manner they want and not have to worry about molestation? Of course. Do I think it's necessarily safe to do so? No. Not on many college campus, and in the two years I have been on UNM's campus, certainly not here.

As I walk across campus, often at night, once I've gotten out of class, I see many behaviors that worry me. They worry me because they show absolutely no regard for situational awareness or personal safety.
  • Women in shoes they absolutely, positively could not defend themselves in or run away from a situation in.
  • Women whose heads are down, glued to their phone screens as they walk through dark spots, and past trees.
  • Women who have ear buds in, thus ensuring they will have no previous warning of an attack.
  • Women who have their hands full as they walk, so they will waste precious moments in defending themselves.
Should women have to think like this? Of course not. But I also wear slacks and comfortable shoes to defend myself or run. My stuff is always in my back keeping my hands free. As much as I love to listen to music, I would never block out sound when walking on campus, and I put my phone away as soon as I leave the building, never having it out or advertising I'm a target. I also couldn't tell you the last time I approached the parking garage without my keys griped in my hand.

One of the things too I've noticed about these reports on campus.
No a single one mentions these women fighting back. Now when I mentioned this yesterday, as our classes' cellphones all went off with the latest Lobo Alert, the other females in the room said it was shock. And I get that. But I also think it goes deeper than that. Women are not for the most part taught to fight back. We are taught to run if anything. While some may take self defense, or have some pieces of advice passed down from others (see my above behaviors) if faced with this situation, of a man approaching them and touching them inappropriately or pushing them, would name fighting back as a first choice.
And that says a lot.

So as colleges and universities start back, and once again students are on campus, I urge women to be safe, be smart, and be aware.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#DevilDiss Revisions CH 2

A little over a week ago I sent the second half of my dissertation off to my director, thus clearing one of the major hurdles of the dissertation process, having a complete draft in a short time (heck having it at all puts me ahead!)

Having a complete draft just means I have a solid foundation for more/better work though.
I have said from the beginning that I thought the second half of the #DevilDiss, which looks at how the English folkloric devil is USED in Shakespeare, pamphlets, and Milton was not only better written, but also more clearly conveyed what I want the dissertation to do.
Chapter one, on the emerging Anglo-Saxon devil is solid, but I had the advantage of writing it in a course, with a great professor who gave me great feedback, so it needs minimal notes.

But the survey chapters, two and three, which examine the physical and then personality/actions of the English folkloric devil, I've always thought were rough. I wasn't happy when I sent these off to my director, but after nine months of revising and revising, I could no longer see the forest for the trees. I needed to send it out to get notes so I even knew where to start.

Each weekend in August is assigned a chapter, and this past weekend was chapter two's turn, so this was what I did:
  • Back at my prospectus defense (which now seems very, very long ago) the question of whether or not my dissertation was about Milton came up. While the culminating chapter is about his portrayal of Satan, I realized (mostly from tweeting the hashtag #DevilDiss) that the focus was the English folkloric devil, not Milton.
    • So initially I had followed the advice to frame my survey chapters with Milton passages. Reading back through, having written the Milton chapter, I realized a couple of things. The first was that the argument I was trying to make with the framing is already covered in the Milton chapter, and if I need to make any alterations, I'll make them there. The other was that the Milton framing of the survey chapters felt artificial and forced. So I cut the framing. This also helps with these chapters feeling bloated.
  • Originally these chapters were organized by subtopics- Merlin narratives, animals, contrast with angels. These are all subtopics of the English folkloric devil but they were not a cohesive organization. They also didn't connect the physical appearance of the devil, which is the whole point of the chapter.
    • What defines the devil is that he is visually different, monstrous, and not us. So I reorganized the chapter around that. This means that there's now a clear throughline in the chapter around this, it also means that I revised those subtopics to emphasize the constructed monstrosity of each of those topics/groups.
  • I also used (because the chapter was so big) images to represent each subtopic as signposts. But as my director correctly pointed out, I was using them for lazy writing (although she was nice about it, that's what it was). I was depending on the image to make the argument instead of MAKING the argument. So I removed all of the images. Then I revised transitions and opening lines in paragraphs in order to make a clear argument.
    • But I did add three images in the section where I talk about how Jews were used as a constructed Other/external threat/monster to Englishmen in the medieval and early modern period. I thought this was a rare case where it was important to see the images.

  • I managed to make all these changes on Saturday. I always handwrite my notes first, so by 5p on Saturday, this was what I had, and needed to type up on Sunday.

  • So those were the major changes, but I also had what I consider housekeeping tasks. I needed to go through and add more secondary sources. As my director pointed out, while I've read widely and deeply, the citations and footnotes didn't reflect that, so I went through yesterday after I typed up my revision notes and added more references.
    • The nice thing about being organized and taking my notes in books with tabs that are color coded to my chapters is that I literally just had to go to my bookself, start at one end, flip to the blue flags for chapter two, and cite.

  • Today I will print the chapter out on campus (because I'm out of paper and it's still a lengthy chapter). I'll spend today and tomorrow afternoons after the job seeker's workshop reading through and making any last minute notes.
    • I think I may need to add some more footnotey secondary sources but we'll see.
So that's my revision process.
As soon as I finish these revisions I'll send it off to the director, as I said I'd send each chapter as I completed it versus all the chapters as a chunk, since she's already seen (roughly, oh so roughly) how the chapters function together. 
This Saturday I'll follow the same process for chapter three which focuses on the personality and actions of the English folkloric devil.
I'm hoping the process runs as smoothly.

I'm trying to focus on just doing the best work I can. I'm trying not to focus on everything that is riding on this- what my director thinks about my revisions, the progress I make, is what will determine (in addition to the quality of my chapters four through six) my defense date.

On a side note, and because I'm brutally honest here- my director was nicer than she should have been about seeing the big ideas in these chapters versus the INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING number of errors and crap in these chapters. While I appreciate being able to see the big picture (and helping me see it) I understand now why she said "tentatively" I could go on the market.
But on the flip side, with my work ethic and the fact that I wrote a complete draft in less than a year, I still think I can revise in less than that.
I still wish I could defend by campus visit time, and am aiming for an early spring date, but also recognize that revision cycles take time, so making my peace with that.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Job Seeker's Workshop Reflections

Last fall my university conducted a job seeker's workshop. We met once a week, covering a document a week, workshopped the documents, and heard from other faculty members.

As I've said before it was very helpful, not just to draft solid templates, but also because the professor leading it brought in a lot of different professors so we got a lot of feedback from different places. I felt really good about the templates I created and revised.
This time, it's a two week intersession class, four hours a day. I like this better for my second time around because it's more one on one, and being on the market, I feel that's what I need more.
We've been going over the requirements of a document, then workshopping our documents. There are eight of us in the class, one master's student, the rest PhDs, but I think only two (maybe three?) actually on the market this year.

A couple of general notes that I've thought of this week:
  • You cannot compare yourself to others in different field. Numbers and anecdotes vary but I've heard numbers roughly this: if you're a contemporary American literary scholar you could face up to 400-500 people competing for a single job. Anglo-Saxonists rarely face double digit competition. Medieval and early modern (ME) seem to fall in the middle. Of course this varies for R1s, SLACs, certain states and regions. 
  • If you can even remotely imagine living somewhere, apply.
    • However don't imagine an entire life when a job ad hits your email inbox- it's WAY too early for that.
  • I have noticed here that in general people are told that one publication is enough to go on the job market, and I've never heard professors really explain why grad students should be presenting at conferences. 
    • I can understand that professors want to be supportive, and don't want to discourage students they believe in. And I get that. But I also believe that they are not doing their students any favors. 
      • This is part of a larger issue- if your student is not doing any of these things, and has proven in other ways that maybe they lack the rigor for this profession, a serious conversation should be had about what their future holds. Competition on the job market is hard enough without dumping someone in the chum water who has no hope of surviving the shark attack.
      • I advised a grad student earlier this summer that small, regional conferences weren't really where she should be aiming for at this point. I got a fairly negative response.I won't be giving advice anymore. On a side note, it's a pet peeve to ask people for advice and then tell that person you're not going to listen to them. THEN DON'T ASK!
    • I was taught that you should present at the major conferences in your field, at least twice a year, and you should think of these conference presentations as prep for articles. So roughly every conference paper should be turned into an article. They won't all get accepted but it does a couple of things that are great professional habits:
      • You're consistently researching and writing
      • You get in the habit of submitting, and having things in the pipeline, it's professionalism
      • The exposure to publishing, and revising and resubmitting is also great experience
      • Your CV will then show a clear connection between conference presentations and publications
    • I think these expectations need to be presented to grad students their first semester. The timeline of submitting to a journal, and the the time it takes to get a response means that IF people are on the market this year, it's too late for a publication.
  • If you plan on making a career in academia, you need to be on Twitter. You need to have a professional social media presence. You should be aware of the scholar-activists in your field and you should be aware of the specifics of the job market. I have been surprised by how little advanced PhD students seem to know about the job market they are prepping for. We're spending a lot of time explaining basics. I do think it's good advice to take this workshop more than once, so you know what to prep, and then to actually prep. But still, this is your chosen field, you should know more about it.
    • The downside of this is that the workshopping is helpful, but the information provided is not anything new to me.
  • I feel good about the documents I have, and it's helpful to know that there's an expected template to these documents (like the cover letter, CV, and research and teaching statements) so that there's a checklist committees will look for. Knowing what specifics in the job ad to address in the letter has also been great advice. 
    • I do worry that because these documents have a formula, and because I don't have a pedigree, that I won't stand out. Nothing I can do about that, so relying on my publications and conference presence as well as my strong teaching record.

  • Because I'm on the market ABD I've made sure in my research statement to detail the chapter descriptions of #DevilDiss so I can prove of one of THOSE ABDs and not one of THOSE ABDs.

  • For me it's also super helpful to have lots of different sets of eyes on things. My academic support network on Twitter and Facebook have also been great about looking at drafts, offering advice and sharing documents.

  • So far I've added five jobs to my tracking documents Google Sheet. I am encouraged about the number of pre MLA Joblist postings. While they are all different, they are all good positions. The last couple of years there were 20-30 jobs initially (not counting later additions) that I would have qualified for as someone who is marketing themselves as a medievalist/early modernist so the more positions posted, the better for me.
    • And while I said to not compare yourself to others in your department, I'm also not competing with anyone in my department. The other person on the market is an Anglo-Saxonist and the possible third is an ALS. While I don't care about competing with people in my department,  knowing this isn't an added level of things to deal with is nice.
  • And I guess this is my last point that is only tangential to the workshop but key to the market and the profession. This is work. This is a job. This is a profession. So you should comport yourself as though this was true. This means that passive aggressive high school drama should not play a role. This means the people in your department are colleagues, not friends, and you should keep that in mind. If you act/dress like a child, a student, that is how you will be seen. Likewise the reverse is true. 
    • I will admit that part of lack of patience about this has to do with age difference. At 39, I am not a 22 or even 25 or 30 year old graduate students. Having been an adult since before I graduated undergrad, and having held a job, I do not have a lot of patience for immature or unprofessional behavior.
    • That being said (which really should be the name of my blog as I do seem to use that phrase to excess!) there's no excuse for not acting like a professional in a professional environment and I think it needs to be made clear to grad students how these negative behaviors can impact their careers.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First draft of #DevilDiss complete

This was a busy and important week in #DevilDiss land.
It was a bit of a crunch, as I have a pre-semester job market prep class starting Monday so this was my last week to work on the dissertation full time. I had set today (1 August) as my personal deadline to get a draft of the second half of the dissertation to my director, so this week I had to print out chapters one through six, and revise chapters four through six to send off to her.

For the record, this is what a first draft of the dissertation looks like.
I certainly feel better about the second half of the dissertation than I did the first. I think in part because the first half is mostly a survey of almost a thousand years of the English folkloric devil in popular literature, and that's a lot of heavy lifting for three chapters to do. I also struggled in the survey chapters with making an argument, seeing a throughline. So there's a lot of rough- he's in this, and does this, and this reflects THIS historical event.
I printed the chapters out Tuesday, and sat down to start revising chapters 4-6 (Shakespeare, pamphlets and Milton). Going in I felt good, because I'd done a first pass on the Milton chapter in June to submit a version of it to a journal, had spent a lot of time working on the pamphlet chapter, and the Shakespeare chapter was in conference presentation form so I had a good base.

Yeah, no. I started panicking on Wednesday when I realized how much revision these chapters needed. Not that they were bad, but more that there were connections to other arguments in the dissertation that I needed to make, and throughlines I needed to connect. The pamphlet chapter also had a lot of instances of me just summarizing other scholars that lent nothing to my argument so I needed to cut those. A note of chapters one through three from my director was also that I was using my subtopic headings as lazy narrative, counting on the headings to do the work when I really needed to focus on signposting those arguments within the work, so there was a lot of that work to do. This was all good work, necessary work, it just was more time consuming than I thought and I started to be worried about meeting my deadline of having it all finished today.
While I understand this was my deadline, no one else's, and therefore a little arbitrary, it was still important that I meet it. For one, today and tomorrow are my last day's of summer, so there was that. Monday I start classes for two weeks, half day, and then I start teaching my classes right after that. I also wanted to have this done so I can start this week on revising chapters one through three based on the notes I received from my director. I'm aiming at revising one chapter per week, which I think is reasonable, even with classes starting, and the heavy revisions these chapters need. That means I shouldn't have any issues with completing all revisions on the first half of the dissertation by the end of August.
That leaves September to focus on prepping job market materials, and apply for jobs. I also still need to revise the prospectus into and intro and write a conclusion, but having drafted the whole thing I'm not worried about that.
My director said I'd probably have notes on the second half of the dissertation in October, probably near the end, so once applications are already due, so I'll spend November focusing on those revisions. I don't know when I'll have notes back on the second round of revisions for chapters one through three but imagine we'll touch based about that later in the fall.

At this point that's as far as I can plan because I have no way of knowing where the cycle of revisions will be past that. One of the reasons I was so focused on revising chapters four through six more tightly was because I'd really like to cut down on the number of revision cycles. Because I'd still really like to be able to defend before the timing of campus visits, which is early.
I don't know if I'll hit that goal. We'll just have to wait and see.

I also this week renamed chapters two and three but may continue to mess with them. The up to date table of contents for the dissertation is here if you're interested, with hyperlinks to the chapters.

So I'm done.
Not really.
That would be some hoodoo magic shit right there.
But having a complete draft of the dissertation feels like a milestone, so I'm going to go with that. I know a lot of people don't get this far, so I'm taking the win. I think I've done a lot in a year, and while I know that there may be a lot (A LOT A LOT) of revising in my future, I've always though revising was easy once you had something. And so far even though chapters one through three need a lot of revision, my director and I seem to be on the same wavelength about that, and understanding notes so I am once again incredibly grateful for my director.

On a personal note...
So I'm taking today and tomorrow, to try and take a mental break from this, despite the fact that last night I had to hospitalize Nehi because she ate two rocks. And we spent three hours in emergency care before they sent me home around midnight, keeping her to give her fluids. Which didn't work. So the doctor called me at 430a telling me we had to go with surgery. Which they had to put off because they had critical cases come in, and as of 1050a, they still had not rescheduled.
So the irony that on the day I could really use the distraction of work, I flew through revisions.
I will attempt to keep busy, but will probably just end up dicking around on the Internet, because I can't really focus.
I would like the surgery to be over, and successful and be on the other side of it because I'm a worrier and things I can't control make me batshit crazy. Especially where my bebe is concerned.
So send the boo book good juju.