On Rereading One’s Dissertation
One of my colleagues recently told me to stop thinking of my dissertation as a dissertation and start thinking of it as a manuscript. So I’ve attempted to do that by actually rereading the darned thing while thinking of it as a manuscript rather than a dissertation. Keep in mind that I haven’t actually taken it out of its little drawer since late October when I sent it in to be bound. Rereading went something like this:
Ooh, look at the title page. How nice!
I made a table of contents? Really? I have no recollection of doing that.
DOOM! There’s a conspicuous typo on page 19!
Reading…reading…reading…hey, this is really interesting! I didn’t know I knew about these things!
Clearly the two hours I spent dividing up the monochapter that became chapters one and two was *not* time successfully spent.
I recently discovered that Isaac La Peyrere was a Huguenot. Yet I write that he spent his final days in a monastery. Is there a problem here? What did I miss?
Ooh, Chapter Three is full of dirty fornicators! Excellent!
Chapter Four definitely needs to go on a diet. Yet trimmed up it could be interesting. (Note: I did in fact just trim it up and send it off to an essay competition. We’ll see.)
The fifth chapter is ostensibly about household violence and “unchristianlike usage.” It also touches on slaves beating masters, Bacon’s Rebellion, and the “just war” doctrine that allowed the enslavement of non-Christians.
Chapter Five thus needs to be, clearly, three chapters.
But I don’t have enough *research* to actually fill out three chapters with good, original, informative arguments! (insert whine here)
Then do more research, historianess!
I can’t believe this. On page 236 I actually wrote the sentence, “Slaves had a tougher row to hoe.” Was I trying to be punny?
And after that, Chapter Six drifts back into Chapter Four. Ergh. I think I was repeating myself…
I have a conclusion! Really, I do! I have no recollection of writing it, but there you have it.
I used to be terrified of my dissertation. Now I’m terrified of my manuscript!