17.6.05

The dreaded lit review....

So now that my life outside academia seems to be less out of control than it has been I'm using the time to try and write. Rather than returning to the chapter I was working on before I went on a dissertation hiatus of sorts I've started a new one - the dreaded lit review.

A lit review chapter brings with it various doubts and concerns, at least for me. In no particular order, these are:
1. There is so much more to read and re-read that it'll take me months to write this one. Am I going to run out of steam during this period?
2. Am I saying something that is worth saying? Or...the gleeful pleasure at having found a topic that folks just haven't written about (foolhardy optimism can lead to days where these folks are viewed as classic morons for having missed something this obvious) even though preliminary field research has led me, the dissertator, to believe that there is definitely some there there seems to dissipate into odd anxieties: Did I miss a source? Has this been done somewhat differently but not enough to warrant me waxing poetic about it for 500 pages?
3. Related to # 2 above, what I'm trying to say is so obvious and self-evident that it's just not possible that it hasn't been said.

Am I plagued with an odd obsession about the value-addedness of the enterprise I have undertaken? Might seem that way but I suspect that it is probably a roundabout way of procrastinating to make sure that the perfectionist in me isn't let down when I don't write the fantastic, with Pulitzery-flair (not that I want to write a piece of journalism but that was the only prize that came to mind that has to do with writing) dissertation that I want to.

Either way - it just needs to get written....so back to that. Even if starting at the very beginning leaves me vulnerable to some insecurities I kind of like the logic of starting at the beginning and the certainty of having spent time articulating the contours of my argument before I get into making it. Once this is behind me I can get to the fun stuff - films, oral histories, etc :-) .... plus since I'm more than enthused about my dissertation hiatus ending it might be the best time to work on something I find not as exciting as the rest of this endeavor.

And yes I know I'll be re-writing this a few months from now when I've finished the rest of the work...I learnt that lesson when writing my M.A. thesis...stayed up for 2 or 3 nights (I forget now so I guess it's kind of like child-birth...you forget the unpleasant pains from the first-time round to have the next one...or so I've been told) prior to submitting my thesis when it dawned upon me that the lit review I wrote a year ago made no sense...

Dare I say onwards :-)?

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