maybe put my picture back on the fridge

Half of those who responded to the survey I posted in early January said they would like me to write more about my research. For a few years there I was making regular trips to England and digging in the archives, finding a great deal of very interesting material. Now I’m in something of a different mode, where I feel that I should devote more energy to writing up the results of my research and getting it published. I would like to say I’ve made more progress on that front, but after one of the worst years of my life, the fact that I’m still alive is good enough for me. Now, however, I’m working on getting back into getting back into getting back into my research.

Here are three trains of thought I’m pursuing at the moment:

  1. Generally speaking, I’m wondering whether I want to publish a monograph, or whether I want to publish a series of articles. [Dr. Crazy, Jason Jones, and Jeff Rice have each recently published great blog entries on publishing “the book.”] I know that the scholarly monograph carries a great deal of professional weight, but do I really think that such a project will make as much of an impact as several well written articles placed in diverse journals? And will I be as satisfied by writing a book as I will by writing several articles? What if we take the question of what’s best for me professionally out of the picture? What if the questions instead are about disciplinary impact and personal satisfaction?
  2. More specifically, I have an article I’ve been sitting on for far too long. I was encouraged to revise and resubmit, but I was so irritated by the comments that one reader gave me that I’ve been sort of procrastinating. Here’s the thing: I’m writing on something about which some senior scholars have long-held beliefs that are not necessarily supported by the available evidence. This reader scoffed at one of my claims, saying that I had my numbers wrong by a factor of 10. I don’t, but I know why this reader would think so. I suspect this reader has not conducted the level of research I have. The original manuscript document, made in the eighteenth century and held in a British library, features the original, correct number. The manuscript copy, also made in the eighteenth century and held in an America library, features an incorrect number: the copyist simply dropped a zero. I’ve seen both documents. If all you’ve seen is the copy, then you would assume one of my claims is overblown. It’s not. I should get over it, I know, and just resubmit the article with my substantial revisions. The misunderstanding regarding this number isn’t even the major issue. But the feedback came at a time when I was feeling underappreciated by my own institution regarding the research that I was doing, so I was not prepared to digest the valid comments along with the ones I disagreed with.
  3. The extended deadline on the call for papers below strikes me as a sign that one of my pieces needs to come out of my intellectual deep freezer and into the warmth of attentive development. I have a ton of notes and about half an article or so on a particular preacher and his heavily annotated Bible. Some longtime readers might remember me talking about this research in a previous blogging life. I’m confident I can make this into a valuable contribution to the field.

I suppose I could say there’s a fourth item: a famous preacher’s posthumously published sermons might not really be his, and there are more of his sermons published posthumously than published during his lifetime. Cue dramatic music: Dunh-dunh-duh! I already had my suspicions, but when I found a debate about the matter in the back pages of one of the eighteenth-century periodicals I was researching a couple of summers ago, that sealed the deal. I have some ideas for how to tackle this mystery, but it’s much more at the early stages than these other two article projects.

Anyhoo, here’s the CFP I mentioned. I will do my best to blog the process of working out these three trains of thought. Your feedback, as always, is welcome.

According to Jean-Paul Sartre, “a concrete act called
reading” is necessary for a text to become a literary
object. LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory is
soliciting critical, historical, and theoretical
explorations of the act of reading. Suggested
questions are: How should the act of reading be
conceived? How do historical, social, and cultural
conditions shape the reception of texts? How have
readings of texts changed historically? How do gender,
race, sexual orientation, and other categories of
social difference factor into reader response and the
reception of texts? How does one read across these
categories of social difference? Submissions should
engage with specific literary texts, range from
5,000-10,000 words, and must be in MLA style. Guest Editor: Patsy Schweickart, Purdue University. Send three copies to

Regina Barreca, Editor
LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory
University of Connecticut
Department of English
215 Glenbrook Rd.,
Unit 4025
Storrs, CT 06269-4025
USA.

Deadline for
submissions: July 15, 2007.

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