Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Monday, October 26, 2015

Round One of #DevilDiss Complete

Saturday I sent my Milton chapter, chapter six of #DevilDiss to my director, delayed by almost three solid weeks of being sick, thus completing my first round of revision on the dissertation, with roughly a week to spare.
My schedule had first round of revisions finished by October, second round completed in November, and then with the delay with the end of the semester and the holidays, receiving notes to begin the third round in January. And so far I feel confident that I'll be able to hit those deadlines.


One of the things I noticed, with this deadline, as with all the other #DevilDiss deadlines, they loom super large as you're heading towards them, but then you're passed them and there's no time to dwell on the accomplishment because it's onto the next to do item.

This semester hasn't just been about finishing round one of revisions though. I've had classes to teach, a first year composition and a survey of early English. I've also been spending each Friday on job applications. Most weeks I was applying for 10-15, last Friday I submitted one, so I expect that will continue the next few weeks.
This past week I also started to sit in on the Old English class as the final requirement for me to prove fluency. I translated Beowulf this summer, and did some graduate level reading responses over fall break, and now I attend the last few weeks of class to answer grammar questions about the text. I saw another grad student who gestured for me to sit near them versus in the back, the comment was along the lines of welcome back to the land of people.
And it's true- I've very much been a hermit this semester. In part because my two classes are Tuesday and Thursday, and late in the afternoon/early evening, so I don't see many people.
I've also said no to requests to give time, volunteer. I'm usually bad at this, but just the other day, when asked to do something that would have been a huge time suck with LITERALLY no reward for me I said:
"No. I'm graduating this year. I'm revising. I don't have time for anything else."
And I didn't feel bad about it.
You're either Neo from the Matrix or a PhD student
 Because the fact is, no one else is looking out for me. No one is asking how job applications are going, how they can help, if I need anything, how revisions are going, how's the process, how I feel about where I am, do I need anything?
So I'm looking out for myself.

Round 2 Revisions
I have feedback on chapters 1-3, which I submitted in September, so I'll start on those first. Chapters 4-6 were sent off in October, so hopefully I'll have notes on those by the time I finish the 1-3 revisions.
Initial notes were very specific, and in some cases line edits, but these notes are more big picture and trends.
So far my director seems pleased with my progress and revision schedule.

So, here are the things I need to consider:
  • Chapter 1 right now covers the English folkloric devil (EFD) during the Anglo-Saxon period up through the Conquest. Chapter 2 and 3 function as survey chapters, tracing the English folkloric devil through the medieval and early modern period through the lens of physicality in chapter 2 and personality/actions in chapter 3. I did this for a couple of reasons, the first was because I have real issues with periodization, and the EFD crosses these boundaries, and pushes against that containment, much as Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues monsters do.
    • However, there is also a lot of overlap between physicality and personality/actions. I need to explain this, and the methodology for keeping these divisions.
    • I think too this means tweaking how I present Chapter 1, as having THAT be by time period, when nothing else is, needs to shift. Not the time period per se, there's no getting around the fact that the EFD appears first during this time. But I think I can shift the discussion to the foundations/origins of the figure, and away from the time period, and add some as to how this figure bleeds across time periods. Treharne's book about Conquest which I already cite will help with this.
  • While these chapters do function as survey chapters  in many ways, I also have to make sure I clarify what my argument is. I think one way I can do this is by strengthening the arguments about the subtopics I mention:
    • Borderlands: how liminal space and borderlands both contribute to the EFD as a constructed Other and as something for domestics to define themselves against.
    • Jews: While the EFD is associated with many Others, and threats, in many ways because of their absence, English Jews are the  figure/group associated the most with this figure. But because they are absent, the presentation is stereotypical, and a caricature, so I continue to struggle how best to present this.
    • Women: as representatives of the domestic space, both the actual hearth and the homeland, their role in the creation of national identity needs to be expanded more. In keeping with this, this will then allow me to talk more about how and why the EFD attacks women, and what these represent in larger terms
So these are what I need to correct/revise, but now I need to figure out HOW to approach all this.
I've changed my board to reflect what I need to focus on.
Right now #DevilDiss is at 334 pages, with the second half, the chapters that deal with function and use much larger than the rest. So at this point, since my director had me pull out the subtopic signposts, one thing I struggle with is the sheer size of the material. It's a lot of pages to track stuff through.

When I initially read my director's comments I briefly wondered if the survey chapters (2 and 3) SHOULD be reoriented around periodization: medieval and early modern, since chapter 1 WAS based on Anglo-Saxon. But too much of my argument is based on how the EFD tradition crosses boundaries and defies periodization, so instead I think I just need to strengthen the chapters as I have them, as I've noted above.
So I'm going to start with chapter 1 revisions, revise, then move onto the next chapter, then the next. But I am going to focus on the themes, the topics that I've identified as throughlines above.

I'd like to stick to the revising schedule I had before three weeks of sickness completely messed me up which is one chapter per week. That means that chapters 1-3 would be revised and sent off by 1 December.
I feel good about the revisions I made on chapters 4-6. I did have some questions about them:
  • Chapter 5: I had to read all of the Stationers' Register for a footnote of number of times "devil" appears in titles versus EEBO. This holds the potential to be a rabbit hole- keeping distracted. BUT I do think I need to move it from a footnote to the body and talk about how the Stationers' Register has very few titles, almost none that EEBO has and what this might mean.
  • Chapter 6: I had to expand the end where I gesture towards Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. But this has the same rabbit hole potential. I need to successfully gesture towards how these works revisit the ideas in Paradise Lost without it becoming a chapter about those works.

And with all of this, there are still other things playing in the background.
I'm still having issues with anxiety every time I go to campus.
I'm trying not to stress about the the fact that I don't know what my life will be life in eight months. How I'll pay rent. Eat.

But I'm going to try to focus on what I can control- which is round two of revisions.

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