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Just when I think I have an interesting argument…nevermind, nope, just kidding! Try again.

November 4, 2014

My motivation is flagging quite a bit lately. It has been hard to find dedicated time for my dissertation, and when I do have the rare luxury of a day devoted exclusively to writing and research, it seems that I find nothing but evidence against my emerging arguments. I have been forced to rethink two major arguments in my chapter on Ireland’s medieval coroners, and my frustration is growing.

1) I first argued that the coroner was an essential agent of the Crown because his office allowed him to take landed property seized from felons into the King’s hand, and these lands were incorporated into the royal demesne (the Crown’s private property, rented directly from the King as lord and landowner). In fact, these lands were most often restored to felons or their heirs, and were only temporarily taken into the King’s hand. The coroner’s office thus did not contribute to expanding the Crown’s demesne at all.

2) I also argued that the coroner was more important than the sheriff because his jurisdiction gave him access to a greater territory. In fact, I’m finding that the coroner and the sheriff often worked together when investigating, seizing, and restoring felons’ lands, so…hrmph. New tactic needed.

I know and understand that revising and rethinking arguments is a natural part of dissertation writing, and ultimately it will make my dissertation that much stronger, but it’s just so discouraging to encounter these kinds of problems. Knowing that I now need to restructure my entire argument has not only stalled my progress on chapter two, it is crushing my will to continue sifting through the evidence because I fear what it might mean for all my other claims and arguments about Ireland’s medieval coroners. Historical research is a steep learning process, for sure, but man…what a bummer it can be sometimes.

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