I am sure my thousands of loyal followers on this blog have been devastated by the recent lack of posts.
The past few weeks I’ve been doing the final pre-defense editing of my dissertation, and it has eaten up much of my time and all of my brainpower. I had submitted a relatively final draft to my committee back in October, so that I could focus on the job market while they looked it over, if they felt like it. I wasn’t too worried; each of my committee members had already seen most of the chapters, and the only things that nobody had seen yet were the introduction and conclusion. My hope was that in January and early February, if they had any comments, I could do another round of editing before the defense.
As it turns out, only one of them is giving me comments, although one other says he has some small observations that he’ll give me at the defense. The professor who’s giving me comments though is giving me very thorough comments, at least on the introduction and Chapters 1-3. I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve caught up with her comments finally (I only got them recently-ish), but it’s taken some doing. They’re predominantly stylistic, with a few requests for amplification or explanation.
And one request that I include the spreadsheets that I put together for a few of the texts. These are two different things, actually. One is a spreadsheet of manuscripts that contain Leonardo Bruni’s novella about Seleuco and Stratonica, and shows whether each manuscript also includes the frame narrative, a letter that may have been part of the text, a translation associated with the letter, or the text that the translation is based on. The distribution of these texts through the manuscript tradition is relevant to my argument about the construction of hermeneutic communities, but I hadn’t planned to include it. Fortunately, that one I had already straightened up and made pretty for an article that I submitted in January.
Unfortunately, I had not cleaned up the other spreadsheet, which is a chart of the 250-odd novelle in Franco Sacchetti’s Trecentonovelle, showing which of them use first-person singular pronouns or verbs and which include references to other novelle or to the structure of the work as a whole. Even more unfortunately, making it all pretty and ready to put into an appendix of the dissertation meant going and finding some additional information that I knew I’d have to find eventually but hadn’t planned to need at this stage. (For the book, maybe, I thought.)
I wish I could say that I have grown as a researcher through this process. My notes were clear enough that I could find exactly where I needed the extra information, which was good. I know more about what kinds of information I have needed for these particular data projects, but that won’t necessarily help me for the next project. The joys of research: looking through texts like this for the five things you think you need, and then doing it again when you discover one that you should have included but didn’t. And then maybe two more.
It’s a good thing I like this work.
In any case, the defense is scheduled: March 5. Because I had already sent them relatively final versions, my committee members have been flexible about when I need to get the edited text to them, so I have a few more days. So I print it, read it through a bit between handing it in and the defense, and in the meantime, work on two conference papers and an encyclopedia entry!
I might not have another blog post for a while. Priorities and all.