Wednesday, April 16, 2008

on mad leaps of faith

So a couple of months back, I was e-mailing Freshman Shakespeare Prof about the Fraught Political Situation at the Beloved Alma Mater (which now seems to have settled down), and he somehow talked me into sending him the entire dissertation. This was a rather scary thing to do, scarier than the defense, really, since the general culture of my graduate program is very Southern and polite, and Freshman Shakespeare Prof is like pure, unreconstructed Essence of Brooklyn; he does not mince words or tolerate lousy writing.

For about two weeks, I was on the verge of writing again to say "no, on second thought, DON'T bother reading this, it's a piece of crap and anyhow, I don't have the slightest reason to think I'll be employed after this semester, and I don't want to waste your time." Which I didn't do, because of course, that would be the very definition of an e-mail that wastes time.

Finally heard back from him yesterday. The verdict (I'm condensing a page-and-a-half-long e-mail into its essence, here): 1) Needs a whole lot more work with primary source material; 2) For God's sake, stop shying away from talking about the Big Name Canonical Texts, because people want to hear about those; 3) This is really a pretty impressive diss, and could be a rockin' book.

Oh yeah. It will. Because if I'm going to make an undergrad prof who volunteered out of pure disinterested generosity spend a month and a half reading the damn thing, I've sort of committed myself to turning it into a rockin' book, haven't I?

Never mind that I still don't have the slightest reason to think I'll still be employed after this summer, and thinking in terms of long-range scholarly projects feels like a mad leap of faith. I think I might just need a mad leap of faith at the moment.


Susan said...

And perhaps knowing that you have a pretty impressive dissertation that could be a rockin' book will somehow help at the next campus visit . . .

It is always good to hear about a diss. from people who haven't evaluated it already!

Fretful Porpentine said...

Gosh, I hope it will -- I need all the help at the next campus visit that I can get.

Sisyphus said...

Hooray for madness! And leaping! And pirates! ---- wait, you did say pirates, didn't you?

And people have told me that having a book proposal/contract/whatever out helps with the job stuff, so if you're willing to leap into another round of fighting no matter what, this would be some great ammunition.

Good luck!

Fretful Porpentine said...

Thanks, Sisyphus. Unfortunately, it looks like I have a LOT of revising to do before I get to book-proposal stage.

Flavia said...

What a wonderful ego-boost--and all absolutely true, I'm sure.

Here's to leaping--