Wednesday, November 23, 2005

dissertation journal

They say it's good to have a dissertation journal - so you can keep track of good ideas and keep track of quotes and all that good stuff. I am not sure I am ready for the administrative aspect of a dissertation yet, I can do the thinking and sometimes the writing, just not the mechanical processing. This is what I have to learn.

Now, I think that is partly what the proposal stage is for - to get you deep enough into the material to have something to work WITH when you try to figure out the rest of the process. So I will use this to learn about the proposal and then work on something searchable to do the actual book part thingy (so scary to keep talking about dissertation, it is easier to think about a thingy ...).

So, what I need to do next:

Write a paragraph about my project - scary.

Read some of the books I have brought home with the idea of looking at how the women present themselves.

Reread Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning and figure out if I want to use his model or make my own.

Rewrite the paragraph about my project and include a very brief outline of the chapters - eeek.

1. There should be an introduction, of course, with a discussion of what my project is, who I picked and why and what methods I am using.
2. Then a something about the legal status of women in the period, the development of the public sphere and the argument about separate spheres.
3. Then a chapter on how scholars have attempted to look at the interaction between the individual and the structure, or gender roles, point to the contradiction between what women were supposed to do and what a number of them actually did, and the differences between different groups of women - depending on class, geography, religion etc (determine what all those factors are).
4. Then argue for a model that accounts for the individual and structural differences - greenblatt & bourdieu mix. Try not to get too fancy here but this might be a two step process, first seeing what they do - how these women construct themselves a public persona and then going back to bourdieu to determine what semi autonomous fields they are leaning on (ask about currency exchanges - using capital from one field to buy stuff in another) ... this could get awfully complicated.
5. Introduce the women, who they are, why I picked them and what they did. A short bio of each of them as well as a discussion of previous scholarly work done on their contributions.
6-7-8. One chapter each on how they presented themselves - close analysis of texts here, from letters and published works, showing how they wanted to be read and how they engaged in the debate (what KINDS of arguments are they using and who are their implied opponents AND implied readers).
9. Reactions - what did people write about them - supporters and opponents. How were their arguments accepted and were responses directed at their writings or tangential? (Do I need to know more about discourse analysis???) If Macaulay says "we need to by blue cars", do people say "no, we need to buy red cars or green apples" or do they say "she shouldn't tell us what to buy because she married the wrong person" ... this would necessitate an overview of the respondents comments about OTHER people - does Hume comment on Rousseau's skirt maker as well as Macaulay's hair color or does he comment differently?? I.e. If I want to draw conclusions about how women are discussed I need to know how men are discussed - I need a norm.
8. Counter attacks - do I want to look at how the women countered? What kind of arguments THEY used to silence opposition - how do I do that???
9. The bigger picture - not only writers did this, but all women who were wanting things the could not have - and Conclusions - Public Women needed to be thoughtful about presentation - we have seen what strategies they used and how succesful (or unsuccesful) they were. We also see something about the relationship between any individual and the surrounding structure and I believe we would find that ANY individual behavior is really this kind of negotiation between different roles. Sometimes the strategies are aimed at creating a new autonomous field, and sometimes just at converting currency between existing fields, but the behavior works on all levels.

Phew - I guess that is, in a terribly garbled form, what I am going for. Enough for one fit.