Saturday, January 15, 2011

Square One

Well, it's not exactly square one, because I'm ABD and in the third year of my program, but it's basically square one as far as the dissertation goes. I went ABD in October and I've made very little progress since. One archive visit, some secondary source sifting, and no writing.

I'm in an early American history program, and the dissertation will have feminism, archaeology, material culture, critical race theory, chemistry, religion, and maybe a dog and pony show for good measure. My advisor (who we'll call Dr. Asiago, because his real name sounds like a different sort of cheese) refers to the dissertation like it's its own person: "The dissertation should locate itself at the intersection of X and Y fields; the dissertation has to grab attention; the dissertation can't lose energy." He says I should keep a writing journal, but he also has stacks of paper falling over in his office and walls of filing cabinets. I bought my first little two-drawer filing cabinet this summer and I can't bring myself to make more things I'll have to file later. I'm sure he'd hate to know that I'm starting a dissertation blog, but I'm sure he'd also hate to know that I'm planning on sewing a couple of dresses when I finish my next round of fellowship applications, instead of jumping straight into more fellowship applications.

But hopefully the blog will keep me honest. Being ABD, my only responsibilities are TAing a course unrelated to my dissertation this semester, and I'm hoping to get a couple of short research trips in this semester instead of staying home and fretting. I'm trying to keep my responsibilities and commitments down to leave me time for writing, because in college I had periods of over-commitment when I didn't know whether I was coming or going, but I seem to get more done when I have some deadlines to work towards. Maybe the next step will be goal setting, but first I have to figure out a starting point.

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