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Summer Update

July 8, 2014

So, I finally sat down with one of my two advisors to talk about my first chapter. Overall, it was a tremendously productive meeting, and he was very positive about my progress. We both came to agree, however, that my first chapter is, for the most part, an “information dump.” Too many interesting things going on, and not enough of the “so what?” factor that tells my audience why they should care about these interesting things. I sort of knew this going in, and this is partly due to my own personal research methods. I tend to go through my primary sources carefully, write up my commentaries, and stitch these commentaries together into a coherent narrative. Later, I fill in the gaps from my readings of secondary sources. At this point, I have not even come close to reading all the secondary literature I need in order to develop my “so what?” argument. So my current strategy is to take a step back from chapter one to 1) begin sifting through my primary sources for chapter two and 2) tackle a good chunk of my reading list for chapter one. Baby steps. I am still dreading the beginning of school and the inevitable shelving of much of my dissertation project that comes with it, but you’ve heard that song before so I’ll stop my whinging. I am still excited about my project, and have a clear sense of the work that needs to be done; I just need to learn to trust that all the pieces will fall together in time.

I have a meeting with my second advisor this Thursday; I expect pretty much the same report from her. The wonderful think about having two excellent advisors, though, is that they are two very different kinds of historians and thus I have multiple perspectives to draw from when developing my story – this is a great thing for writing a dissertation that will one day (I hope!) become a published book for a more generalized audience.

Onwards and upwards!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2014 11:41 pm

    When I had to do my dissertation, I only had contact with one personal supervisor for the large majority of it. Hopefully having two will help you achieve a better grade, good luck with it!

    • July 18, 2014 11:22 am

      Thank you, Waseem! So far it is working well – I truly think I will produce better work because of it. But, in the meantime, it also means arranging more meetings – ugh.

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