Thursday, November 18, 2004

The short version of the dissertation trauma is this. My dissertation is on a particular social movement and how its members viewed questions of citizenship. (I have a very state-centered view of citizenship, incidentally. I basically mean what people owe their states and nations and what they have a right to expect from their states and nations in return. A lot of people use "citizenship" much more broadly, to mean social inclusion and participation in a very wide sense. Not me. I'm limitted like that.)

Anyway, I was going to have a chapter on gender, which makes sense, because my dissertation covers a time period when the relationship between gender and citizenship changed hugely. Basically, two important things happened: the WWI draft, which increased the gap between men's and women's citizenship, and women's suffrage, which decreased that gap. Both of these things loom large in my dissertation, because my people disagreed with each other both about women's suffrage and about the war and draft. I was also going to have chapters on religion, on dissent (and the question of when it crosses the line into sedition), on the relationship between culture and citizenship, and a couple of other things.

But I've realized that all the really interesting and surprising things I have to say are about gender. And I realize that if I make gender the topic of the dissertation, rather than just a chapter, I'll finish sooner, since I already have a lot of things to say about it.

The thing is, it's a bit late in the game to change my dissertation topic. And my topic was already a little esoteric to start out with, and I'm just going to make it more esoteric.

I have a meeting with my advisor tomorrow to talk about it. I have no idea what she's going to say. On some level, I think she may be happy, because she works on gender, and it's always upset her that my dissertation was so far afield from her area of specialization. On the other hand, there's the esoteric thing: she already thinks my dissertation is fundamentally about something pretty unimportant, and this may just make it more so. And then I have to go talk to my second reader, whom I've avoided for six months, mostly because I couldn't decide whether to tell her about my health problems. I have decided that I need to tell her about the health problems, which means that it's going to be a doubly stressful meeting. So wish me luck.

So that's what's going on in my life. In other news, I have decided to make people preserved lemons for their respective holidays. Because I am broke and aspire to craftiness, I've decided to go homemade until I can afford to buy people things that they'd really like. Is that a weird Christmas/ Hanukkah/ whatever present? Also, should I paint or etch pretty little lemons on the glass cannisters in which I put the preserved lemons, or is that hokey? I'm thinking about attaching a card with a couple of recipes that use preserved lemons, and maybe I'll put a pretty lemon on that.

I think painted lemons sound adorable. I personally would be incredibly touched if someone made me a Christmas present like that.

Re: dissertation, I feel your pain. Are you me?? It sucks when you're not sure of your topic, and it sucks more when you are stricken with psychotic illnesses. I guess I should be grateful that for the first time in forever, it isn't actually my immune system this time.

Oh well, keep the old chin up (I've always found that saying to be immensely uncomforting, but my inner thesaurus is on strike and I can't think of an alternative.) --Sofiya
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