The past couple weeks….

My two chapters are written, revised, and submitted.  It was quite an adventure to actually write….  After spending so much time on research, it was exhilarating to finally put some things together.  Having two chapters written (though I’ll definitely revise them to a greater extent in the future) will make things go much more smoothly next semester, too.  I won’t get too overwhelmed by the writing process (in regards to a thesis) because I’ll already have had experience with it.And now it’s winter break.  My advisor and I plan to meet on a weekly basis throughout the spring semester, and she wants me to submit an annotated bibliography, a revised outline, and a brief introduction to the outline before our first meeting of the semester.  That will help me keep my thesis work up throughout the break.  I also hope to write my introduction chapter, or at least put together a decent outline of the chapter, so I’ll be better prepared to tackle the writing of the thesis in the spring.And I hope to keep this blog up, too.  My research methods class is over, but this blog really helped me keep up my thesis work throughout the semester.  Even if I didn’t accomplish much during the span of a week, I knew that I had to post my progress and continue with my research, etc.  That may really help me once it’s time for some intense writing and revising. 

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November 24- November 30

Ahhh, writing.  I’m excited to actually have reached this point.  Something about it is really… invigorating.  Finally putting all your research and ideas together is great.  I keep on finding, however, areas where I could expand my research even more.  So the draft I’m currently working on will soon be supplemented with a source or two I’m currently waiting to receive through ILL.  Which means they will have to be added during the revision process….I’m currently working on two chapters for my Research Methods class.  Because I am looking at many aspects of women’s lives and have divided them up thematically, my thesis will end up having a decent amount of shorter chapters.  I think this will make the writing process go pretty smoothly for me in the spring, but I’m not managing my focus very well at the moment.  Instead of writing one chapter, and then the other, I decided to kind of alternate between the two.  Definitely not the best idea.  I was feeling a bit ambitious, I guess, and I couldn’t decide which chapter to write first.  That said… I’ve decided to put one on hold for a bit and finish the other.  And then return to the first one to finish that up.  And I must say… I am very glad it’s a draft.  I am cramming way too much writing into too short a period of time to produce anything too impressive.And Thanksgiving Break… definitely not the time to accomplish a lot (academically, that is) if you’re in my family.  I did fit a bit of work in, but I primarily focused on work for my other classes.  My family actually got a puppy over the break and I ended up spending most of my time playing with her.  The break is over now, though, and I’m in Swem.  Ready to spend the night writing.

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November 17th-23rd

I’m really happy with my progress over the past week.  I met with my advisor, and she and I were both really pleased with my write-up for our meeting.  My arguments are really developing well, and my sources are all fitting together.  I plan to expand the write-up for my Research Methods chapter.  My write-up only briefly covered a lot of things I want to examine in depth, so it will essentially serve as the perfect “outline” for a chapter.  At this point I think I’ll be writing two chapters, for it does not look like my individual chapters will be very long.  I may end up merging some topics together, though.  (I’m still figuring that out….)  Regarding the Research Methods chapter… I hope to accomplish a lot over Thanksgiving break (ambitious, yes).  I’ve also stumbled upon another diary that seems quite applicable to my topic and will likely offer me some new insight, so I’ll be working on going through that, too.I’ve also reached a point (again) where I need to re-organize my notes.  I prefer taking notes for each source in its own Word document, and over the past couple weeks I haven’t been classifying those notes by theme.  I’ll be working on that over the break, too.

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November 10th-16th

Okay.  I’ve gone through Low’s diary in much greater detail this past week, figuring it would be helpful to look at it more closely since my larger argument and thought processes have really developed over the past week or so.  And going through Low’s diary again has been a really rewarding experience.  It fascinates me but also helps me link a lot of pieces, especially regarding the federal government’s intervention in the Dust Bowl region and how women perceived that intervention and its effects on them.I’ve picked up some new secondary sources that will help with little bits and pieces of my research.  Things that I’ll discuss but not necessarily in great detail.  They’ll just help place my argument in the broader context by connecting it to other historical topics, including the idea of gossip as a means of entertainment and communication.Other than that, I don’t really have anything new to report.  Things are fitting together nicely; as a result, I’m not feeling too intimidated by the writing process.

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November 3rd-9th

My advisor and I had a very successful meeting on Tuesday.  We went over my outline (I’ve shifted a couple things around as a result), and my advisor thinks everything is quite well organized.  I’m tackling things thematically; I will thus use my primary documents as support throughout my thesis, as opposed to using one diary for a case study, one set of letters for another case study, and so on.  I’m doing this not only because of my personal preference (when it comes to reading academic texts) but also because I’ll be most effectively able to communicate my argument this way.My advisor is also quite happy with my recent write-ups.  They’re becoming more and more like short papers, with arguments and supporting evidence, as opposed to short overviews of sources and how they communicate with each other.  My most recent write-ups are essentially short versions of some of my chapters.  I’ll just need to expand them.  And I have lots of avenues through which to expand them, so I’m excited.The second half of the week was not at all productive; I left campus Wednesday afternoon for a funeral and just got back about an hour ago.  And, while home, I spent my time with my extended family… schoolwork wasn’t the priority.  Now that I’m back on campus, however, I’m ready to dive back into the work.  I’m feeling really good about my progress and know that I’ll be able to accomplish a lot over the next couple weeks.  I hope to put together a rough outline of my Research Methods chapter(s) this week and go from there. 

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October 27 – November 2

This past week has been pretty productive.  I’ve spent a lot of time digging through Ann Marie Low’s “Dust Bowl Diary,” which (to me) is a truly fascinating text.  Low was an incredibly independent and individualistic young woman; she embraced responsibility on her family’s farm and didn’t want to marry unless it was to a man who would help her “get someplace in this world” (Low 43).  While her personal views are not exactly representative of Dust Bowl women in general, the experiences she describes are powerful and parallel those of many other women.  She writes of the hardships she and her female relatives faced while also placing those hardships in the broader context of not only the Dust Bowl but also 1930s America as a whole.

I now have a tentative outline, though I do think the order of topics/chapters will switch a bit between now and my finished product.  I also expect to combine some of the topics and consolidate them into single chapters, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do this until I’m a little further along in the process.  Also, I have yet to review my outline with my advisor.  We had to reschedule last week’s meeting, but we are meeting tomorrow so we’ll discuss it then.

I am also finding more and more avenues to explore regarding women’s conditions and experiences in the Dust Bowl.  Things seem to be going really well right now!

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October 20-26

As hoped, I spent a good amount of time this past week organizing my notes by themes and ideas.  This will make it much easier to actually write, and it is currently helping me identify gaps and points of weakness in my research.  Organizing my notes in this way led to the formulation of a broad outline of my thesis, too.

Other than that… I don’t have too much to say at the moment.  My American West professor mentioned the text on which I wrote my book review, which made my day.  Otherwise, things are just plodding along.  A bit slower than I’d hope.  I’m going to try kick up the momentum this week.

And I’m meeting with my advisor tomorrow.  I hope to discuss my outline and how to best organize the actual thesis.  And go over some of my more recent reserach developments.

So… nothing too new here.

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October 13-19

This past week was spent focusing on my book review and the text on which I wrote.  I’ve also been digging through Caroline Henderson’s letters in greater depth.  They are so much fun to read but also provide great insight into her life, and the information they provide seem to become increasingly important in my research.

I think I probably need to start organizing my notes by theme.  I’ve been taking notes by text, document, etc., but I’ve reached a point where it would be much more useful to have them organized based on the ideas they cover.  That will be part of the plan for the week ahead.  Having my notes organized in such a manner will make it much easier to write my chapter, too.

I’m starting to feel nervous about actually writing this chapter.  I feel like I still have so much research to do, so many ideas to put together, before I’ll feel ready to write the chapter.  I do have little sections already written (the write ups I put together for my advisor meetings have really helped with this), but actually writing a chapter seems, at this point, pretty intimidating.  And I still don’t know how I actually want to organize my thesis.  I’m also struggling with how much background information I need to include.  I don’t want to spend too much time discussing the Jeffersonian ideal, for example.  It’s one of those things that I feel everyone who reads my thesis will already understand, but I need to describe it so those who don’t will still know what I’m talking about.  And I want to make sure such information is presented in a clear and effective manner.  I just don’t know how great to go into these things that are essential to my thesis but are still on the sidelines.

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October 6-12

This past week’s research was a bit slow for me.  I focused primarily on the causes of the Dust Bowl.  Nobody can deny that the removal of the grasses, etc., from the soil, in conjunction with high winds, caused the dust storms.  It is interesting to read about the different ideas (such as failures of capitalism) that are connected to the Dust Bowl.

I met with my advisor on Tuesday, and she really likes the direction in which my work is going.  I’m really excited about my work, too.

Also, I’ve decided on a text on which to write my book review.  It was a difficult decision primarily because my most applicable secondary sources either focus on the Dust Bowl or Women’s History, and my thesis will essentially connect the two.  Granted, New Western History has incorporated Women’s History, but few texts substantivelly cover the Dust Bowl and women.  My book review will be on one of the “Dust Bowl” texts.

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September 29-October 5

Let me start by saying that I literally spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to update my blog.  The new site looks great, but I really cannot navigate it!  I ended up using a link in an old e-mail to actually get to this page (meaning the “write” page).

Technology.  Definitely not my forte.

I accomplished very little this past week with regards to my thesis.  I met with my advisor on Tuesday and we reviewed my plan of action for the next couple weeks.  This past week was devoted to LSAT prep.  The test is now over (Yay!) and I’ll have much more time to focus on my thesis, which I am so so excited about.  This upcoming week will be dediated to secondary sources (it almost feels like I’ll never get through them all).  Hopefully I’ll have worked my way through all of them by the conclusion of Fall Break.  Then I’ll be able to focus on primary documents.  Dig through diaries and the like.

While I did very little thesis-related work this past week, I did gain an increased understanding of the historiography relating to my topic, especially that of the New Western History.  I am able to place my work (broadly speaking, that is) in the broad historical picture.  Figure out how the changes in women’s rolse, as well as in views of women and femininity, fit into the New Western History.  And how these changes fit into the shift between Old Western History and New Western History.

Overall, I’m feeling quite confident that I will accomplish a lot over the next couple of weeks.

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