Gunlord’s Dissertation Saga, Episode 30 (Season 2): Still stalled

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. Still haven’t finished up chapter 1. Partially, this is motivation: It’s gotten so much warmer that I’ve been spending more time outside eating and enjoying myself. But partially it’s because the act of reorganizing the chapter seems to be like a “one step forward, two steps back” sort of thing. Here’s what my methodology has been:

When I first started the reorganization project, I opened up the word document of my first chapter second draft, and added the subheadings I thought would be cool. I came up with:

1.1: Patriarchy and Paternity

1.2: Patriarchy and Paternalism

1.3: Patriarchy and Control

1.4: Patriarchy and Patriotism

1.5: Patriarchy and Force

1.6: Patriarchy and Fraternalism


The point of all this was to follow Dr. H’s advice: “you should focus your energy on the close analysis of the ideas that are actually at the heart of the project—patrimony, paternalism, paternity, patriotism, and so on. This work still feels more pointillist than it should; I either want more narrative that holds everything together or more theory (I think the consensus of the group today was that more theory—again, focusing on the “patria” words—is the way to go.)”


So this was all well and good, but my initial method of reorganization ran into some problems. I first moved around all the paragraphs of my initial word document, trying to figure out which subheading each should go under, and I also moved some parts (like some definitions of terms) from my intro into chapter one. This got confusing and I wasn’t sure which parts I had moved around where.

Hmm…time for another approach! This time I made separate word documents in a folder labeled “Chapter 1.” I made six separate word documents–1.0, introduction, 1.1, patriarchy and paternity, etc.–and cut and pasted the relevant portions from the original draft into each of those separate word files, with the plan to put them all together into a single “3rd draft” document when I was done with all of them.

That worked a little better–I found myself better able to keep track of where everything was. However, I ended up running into two issues:

A: As I worked, I found that some of the primary source quotes I put in one section could also fit into another section! For instance, there’s some stuff that could be good in both “paternalism” and “control.” So I’ve been busy thinking about whether to move them around, or address them in both sections. I think I’ll go with the latter, since Dr. H said I should keep as tight a focus on ideas as possible, but it did give me a headache for a couple of days trying to figure out what my approach should be…

B: Additionally, I found another issue: My thesis, as you’ll recall, was that the black abolitionists I’m studying offered a vision of fatherhood that wasn’t just conservative, but not “radical” either–it was more innovative. So I’m comparing them to proslavery guys to tease out how a conventional vision of fatherhood could be innovatively turned towards abolitionist purposes rather than proslavery purposes, but it also occurred to me that if I was going on the “innovative” angle, I’d want to show the black abolitionists differed from their white Garrisonian allies as well. So that gave me some material to chew through. I think I’ve found a decent argument to make, but it meant I had to incorporate a good deal of stuff from Michael Pierson and Kirstin Hoganson’s writing, and that took some time.

So yeah, definitely more of a challenge than I thought. As I said on Twitter, sometimes it feels like editing can be even tougher than writing the first draft! You might think I’m discouraged, but…nah, not yet. Yeah, this is taking much longer than I thought, but I’ve found I typically get much more efficient when I have my back to the wall, so to speak. I work slowly when a deadline is far away, but faster when it’s closing in, and I have about 2 weeks before I hit the maximum date I promised my profs. So I have about 15 days to work on chapters 1, 2, 3, and the Epilogue. That’s about 3 days per chapter, with a little leeway. I’ll definitely have to PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT, but I’ve done so before, and I think I can do so again. 😀

And on that high note, here’s what I’ve been enjoying in terms of food:


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