Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dissertation Fear

So, my dissertation proposal was well received by all faculty members at my oral exams, and they recommended only minor changes in the form of including an outline of the project and a bit more detail about what I want to do with the material on which I'm focusing. I made these changes, submitted the revised copy to my committee chair, and she commented on what I "super" project this is. After looking at the newest draft, she only had one suggestion, which related to identifying more clearly the texts I'll be using in my work. This, however, is a PROBLEM right now....

Because the kind of project I'm working on hasn't yet been done (seriously, there's this black hole in the literary scholarship), I don't know which texts will be best served in my work. I'm looking at British literary texts (fiction, non-fiction, women's life writing, advice books, economic ledgers, wills, etc.) between 1695-1722 that reflect women's access to, representation of, and participation in the discourse of credit. As an 18th c. scholar, I'm familiar with the canon of the long 18th c. My project, however, covers the period before the canonical novel is established and just as the first professional female novelists are coming to popularity. And because much of my focus deals with non-fiction texts like advice books, wills, women's letters and journals, etc., I've only had minimal contact with them up to this point. Basically, the problem is that I haven't yet read enough material from these specific years and in these specific genres to know which texts I want (or should) use for my dissertation. I don't want to simply cherry-pick works at random for the sole purpose of finishing the proposal and submitting it to the Office of Graduate Studies either. Argghhh! I'm meeting with my chair tomorrow for coffee, so we'll see what she recommends, but for now I'm really feeling like I'm flying blind. That's both a good thing (because I don't have any particular agenda or biases), and a bad thing (because who knows what I could inadvertently miss).

1 comment:

Supadiscomama said...

My dissertation fear: I have no idea what I'm doing!!!