Heavy stuff this week, my friends. I’ll start with lighter fare, to get the fun out of the way first, and then I’ll turn to the concerns weighing in on my mind. Those concerns deal with what my professors told me, and as I promised last week, I’ll reveal it after these brief notes:
Macross Delta 13 and Jojo 13.
Macross: Sheeit, a setpiece battle, and what a battle it was! Some folks didn’t think much of it, but I was mighty impressed.
Jojo: There was actually no fighting at all in this episode–it was pretty much straight slice of life, though of course with stands. And Josuke’s relationship with his elderly father gave me major feels by the end, really reminded me of my own dad ;-;
More Gravity Rush. Man, that game is great. Hits just about every one of my preferences that had been tickled by Shadow of the Colossus: A large, beautiful world with wonderful architecture (Rush’s architecture is quite different from that of Colossus, since it’s more contemporary-urban than ageless fantasy ruins, but still very good) and a sense of both profound otherness and sublime mystery. My only complaint is that it gets pretty frustrating later on in the game, some of the enemies can be very annoying.
Episode 20 of Dragonar! Sorry for not releasing it last week, but both Starseeker and I had to deal with a lot of commitments–me with the dissertation stuff I’ll mention soon, her with some tight deadlines for her IRL job. But now things have cooled off a bit, so here you go:
Slowly working my way through Higginbotham and Franklin’s African American history text, From Slavery to Freedom. I’m also reading Allure of the Archives by Arlette Farge, a book about the experience of physically making one’s way through the archives, at least for historians. I may say more about that later, but not this week, as I’ve been busy…
Well, you know my profs–more specifically, my dissertation advisor– got back to me. Lemme break down what he said.
He started off with some nice compliments. He was very impressed that I managed to get the WHOLE dissertation done before I was even scheduled to have my first chapter conference; he explicitly said I put out an “exciting” amount of work in an appropriate amount of time. So that was definitely good, but…it seems my speed also posed a few problems.
The main point he made was, essentially, that I may have been working a little *too* quickly. See, if I had just been satisfied with one chapter and sent it in, the feedback on that would have informed the rest of the dissertation, so that if I made a mistake in that first chapter, I wouldn’t make it again throughout the rest of the work. Unfortunately, since I did the whoooole thing before getting feedback, mistakes I made early on were repeated throughout the text. So really, I probably could have saved myself a ton of stress by just sending something in when I finished one chapter! Ah, well…I guess this really was a case of going 2FAST2FURIOUS! XD
So, what were those mistakes? Most were little things I knew I’d have to correct–spelling errors, awkward turns of phrase or unclear paragraphs that could obviously use a good editor’s eye, and it seems I messed up the formatting of my block quotes, I’ll have to change ’em. But others are more far-reaching. My advisor left extremely detailed comments, and the most important were these:
1: I have to do some reorganization, a lot of the time I said stuff like “this point will be raised later on in the essay.” That’s easy enough to change, just gotta move some paragraphs around and connect them better; again, the sort of thing I thought I’d have to do. But in other cases…
2: I need to add a bit more information here and there. Specifically, my advisor recommended I spend a bit of time on motherhood, since I wrote so much on fatherhood. That shouldn’t be too hard, I should be able to work in some nice data in there somewhere easy enough. But a bigger challenge awaits…
3: More abstractly, I need to give my work a better sense of “time.” Now, as y’all know, I made the timeframe I was working in very clear (19th cen), but my advisor wanted me to be even more clear about both how the ideas I’m discussing changed over time *and* why these changes were important. One way he suggested of doing that was to incorporate the biographical data about each of my six subjects into the story as a narrative thread, rather than keeping that stuff in a single chapter. That sounds like a capitally good idea to me, so I’ll try to incorporate it. One good thing–my prof said “There may be, for example, a few key moments or places or publications around which you can bring your protagonists into conversation, even if metaphorically” and that strikes me as an *ace* idea–even if none of my six protagonists got in one place together at the same time, there were different places or moments in time that connected them; they all wrote about England a fair bit, for instance, so I could use that as a thread between all of them that would also highlight the importance of their ideas in an international context.
Doing things like that is easier said than done, of course…but not impossible. I’ve already got some more ideas, but those do involve some susbstantial reorganization…I’m thinking of making my chapters chronological rather than thematic, like going from 1840s – 1850s – Civil War – Reconstruction rather than my previous chapter scheme of -What the Subjects Said- What Other People Said About Them – Family Lives – Reconstruction. But to decide that, I’ll have to meet with my committee, because they want to talk about my work in person with me, so that I’m clearer on what I should be doing and don’t end up making any more avoidable mistakes.
Ironically enough, that puts me in a bit of a dilemma…the earliest my professors can meet with me is in September, which is 2 months away. So on the one hand, I GOTTA GO FAST and really want to make the corrections and improvements I’m thinking of, maybe even going as far as to craft a whole second draft as soon as I can, but on the other hand, “GOTTA GO FAST” was exactly the thing my advisor was warning me against. So as much as I want to get this dissertation over with, doing a whole ‘nother draft before September would likely just irritate my committee and result in me not actually accomplish much without their firmer guidance.
Then what should I do till then? Well, I guess I can first make all the small corrections my main advisor mentioned–fixing the block quote formatting, lil spelling errors, etc. Another thing my advisor mentioned was that I should go find some more archives and primary sources. And that leads me to…
This week I’ve been mainly writing to universities and archives asking for sources. I managed to get a lot of scanned material relating to Harvey Wish (author of my main biography of George Fitzhugh), but not much relating to George Fitzhugh (as opposed to Wish’s other books). I had more luck with the Virginia State Library, which gave me some of Fitzhugh’s scanned petitions to the legislature! 😀 😀 Those might come in handy. I also sent an email to some historically black colleges I hoped might have some more stuff on Martin Delany and Henry Garnet, but not much avail there, they haven’t gotten back to me yet ;-;
There are a bunch of Fitzhugh papers at Duke university, and I’m not sure how many of those are scanned…I’ll have to ask the Duke people and check. If they’re available online, yay, if not, I guess I’ll have to take a trip over there.
At least, assuming I can solve some problems at home. Making matters worse is that I have to send my Digital Storm Bolt III in for repairs–I might describe that later, it’s been tetchy recently. AFTER that’s done, I hope I can head off to North Carolina to ALWAYS BET ON DUKE university and see the George Frederick Holmes papers…
Well, maybe after I clear one more IRL hurdle–yes, one more, not even my malfunctioning desktop was bad enough! You see, I might have actually gotten myself an appointment to keep.
It represents a big step for me. I’ve finally began to enter into…da world of gunz.
No, really. I’ve been interested in my state’s gun laws ever since…well, recent events, so I decided to learn more about the subject. I signed up for a “local gun laws” class at a nearby range, so they’ll call me when they’ve set up a time for it (hopefully it’ll match my schedule). After that, I might go for some actual range practice! I read that article about Gersh Kuntzmann getting PTSD from firing a rifle, and I saw all the other articles mocking him for it, so I wanted to see for myself if it’s as bad as the anti-gun folks say, or as easy as the pro-gun folks say. But that’ll keep me busy, along with working on my dissertation! So, until next time, my friends…