I had a pretty good day yesterday, considering the fact that it was a million degrees and so humid that blinking caused me to break into a sweat. It was gross. I spent most of the day holed up in the study hovered over the air conditioner. I did a lot of blogging – I had to catch up on what everybody was doing after all my time away. It is amazing how fast time moves in the blogiverse.
Then, in the afternoon, I could stand it no more, so I took myself to the local Evil Corporate Bookstore with Embedded Even More Evil Coffee Company because they have wicked cold air conditioning. It was yummy. And the Iced Decaf Mocha I had wasn’t bad either. I was really, really productive. It was some kind of alchemy of cold, coffee, chocolate, and screaming children that did it, I guess. (Seriously, not to gripe because I don’t have kids so lord knows what the hell I would do in this situation, but there was a child who was seriously screaming at the top of his lungs, and his mother just walked around the store and let him follow her around. It was like she didn’t want to even acknowledge that her kid was in hysterics. Maybe it was a bold parenting strategy. But, as I saw her take her 9th or 10th lap past the coffee shopish area, I was tempted to buy the kid whatever the hell he wanted to get him to stop screaming. The Complete Harry Potter Collection? Grande Mochachino and Super Deluxe Enormous Brownie? Big Bottle of Bourbon? Eh, kid? What’ll it be?)
So, here is what I did when not watching the Screaming Child 500: I sorted through all of the existing material I have for the Intro, for Chapter 1, and the stuff I cut from Chapter 2. It was really great. I laid out a plan for what has to happen next, and was sort of surprised that it was all clear in my mind. I think that what I am going to do is to turn chapter 2 into the Chapter Formerly Known as Chapter 2, a.k.a. Chapter 3. Then, I’’ll take the stuff I cut from that chapter and put it into the New Improved Chapter 1. THEN, I’’ll take half of old chapter 1 and turn it into the New Chapter 2, plus some stuff I had cut out earlier because it didn’’t work with my old organizational schema but that I was really sad about having to cut.
After I had worked all of this out, I kind of got a bit terrified about what I was up against, and so decided it would be a good time to call it quits. (And besides, the 500 was over. I think the kid won.) Then, I went and got Spousal Unit from work. We went home and had leftovers so that there was absolutely no creation of any additional heat whatsoever from the kitchen. We spent the evening together huddled around the air conditioner. He worked on MatLab and I sat on the floor surrounded by 15 different Intro textbooks completely overwhelmed by trying to decide which one to use in my course this fall. As far as I can tell, they’re all totally alike and completely different at the same time. I’m kind of daunted at the thought of shaping young minds by my book choices. Even if they won’t really read what I assign anyway, I still have to decide if I want to emphasize the experience of American unfree workers, Native Americans, women, or dead white men with funny wigs. It is sort of overwhelming. Any suggestions?
Anyway, my new dissertation organization looks like this:
New Chapter 1: The Politics of Reconstruction
New Chapter 2: “The Doctrine of our Fathers:” Reconstructing the Family Politic
New Chapter 3: The Rights of Manhood
New Chapter 4: “Awakening the Public” or “Blocking the Wheels?” Woman Suffrage Petitions and the Politics of the Fourteenth Amendment
New Chapter 5: The Racist Turn
I just noticed that almost all of my chapter titles start with ““the.”” Oh well. Something to deal with later.
So, today, I am going to dive into the New Chapter 2. Today, I’’ll do a little reading and start in on the new intro. Later in the week I’ll do some serious hedge trimming on the old material. Maybe this time it will be less like clear cutting and more like topiary. Hopefully I’’ll end up with a chapter and not a giant hemlock dog when it is all said and done.