Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book proposal update.

I think I'm done with this thing. After "finishing" a few days ago, I sent the proposal with its intimidating retinue of supporting documents to my frighteningly brilliant colleague, who, despite working in a different field, identified the project's conceptual shortcomings and directed me toward a more expansive set of conclusions. A harrowing process. I freely admit to being, shall we say, theory-impaired. I can identify all the major theorists by name and can provide a one-sentence summary of what they did, suitable for faking it on the GRE more than a decade ago. But I'm a text-based girl, dammit, and it's not easy for me to pan back and grasp the "implications for the critical method" contained within my humble readings of 17c verse, especially when I haven't actually written many of the chapters I'm summarizing in my proposal. I suspect that eventually I might get to one of those macro-level epiphanies, but I can't see them from the front end. Thank goodness for my frighteningly brilliant colleague, who can, and who responds to my queries with encyclopedic and frenetic thoroughness. The result of which is, I think, a completed proposal--some fakery involved, but it's educated fakery, based on stuff I know and imagining where that stuff might take me. I've sent it off to Luminary Friend In My Field for a look-see, and if he thinks it's ready to storm the barricades of academic publishing, then I will armor it up and shove it out there.

My visceral need to have this book get published and subsquently well-received is embarrassing and a little perplexing to me. How appropriate, and how roundly applicable, the title of Neophyte's recent post: "Love me, love me, love me!" Is everyone in academia so pathetically needy for affirmation? and is that need a product of academia? or do people who are pathetically needy for affirmation naturally gravitate toward a discipline which offers little of it, to keep the desire engine churning?


Neophyte said...


I want to hear more about why you think not being a big theory head is a drawback.

I also want to say that I was very happy a couple of weeks ago to discover your blog -- the more Renaissance girls in this world, the better, as far as I'm concerned. And I completely worship anyone who can be a mom and a scholar at the same time.

Renaissance Girl said...

Neo--I guess I should have been clearer. I'm not upset that I'm not a theory head. I've been doing okay for myself without fluency in theoretical discourse, and in fact I think I arrive at many of the same points that my theoretically-inclined colleagues do but in more accessible terms (at least, that's what my students report). But there's a certain theoretical facility required to make the leap from "This project has really interesting things to say about 17th century poetry; it helps us to understand that literature better" to "This project approaches 17c poetry in such a way that we as critics must revise how we conceive of X, Y, and Z." I can do the first really well. My colleague, who can do the second with breathtaking skill, showed me how to make the leap to that larger view, which I couldn't have made on my own, especially at the beginning of a project. But now I've made it in this proposal, I'm going to have to own it as my chapters come together. Not a bad thing--really a great thing in terms of what my project might now do--but opposite the way I usually work, which is to understand the large-picture stuff slowly, after I've obsessed over Donne's commas for a while.

Thanks for reading--and for writing such thoughtful stuff here and elsewhere!

Flavia said...

I'm not at all a theory head, either, and I'm still quite self-conscious about it; in my daily scholarly life I get along fine without it, but I do feel as though I missed some essential year of graduate school somewhere, somehow.

And as for the neediness: I often think of that bit from Chicago: "I'm a STAR--and the audience loves me and I love them for loving me and they love me for loving them and we all just love each other. And that's because none of us ever got enough love in our childhoods; and that's showbiz, kids."

Flavia said...

And, oh yeah: congrats!