I spent much of today (and part of the past weekend) working on research for the dissertation conclusion.
I haven't done much with the dissertation since I got the manuscript back from my chair in May with suggestions and comments. For one thing, I was kind of burned out on the thing. And for another, I needed some distance from the specifics of individual chapters in order to write the conclusion, which needs to take a broader look at the thesis and what it means. And finally, I needed a contiguous block of time to work on the thing, and to consider some really broad materials on American constitutionalism and American political thought (and Constitutional change).
So I'm taking several vacation days from work this week. Combined with the 4th (and 5th) holidays, that gives me a nice solid block of time to knock the conclusion out. And right around the 4th, which seems entirely appropriate.
Conclusions to longer papers have always been the toughest for me to write. It's really easy for me to immerse myself in a highly technical subject, do the research, and essentially "figure it out." In fact, most academics can do that -- it's one of the requirements of academia! It's the rarer intellectual who can place those narrow findings in some sort of historical or philosophical context. I'm not saying that I'm necessarily one of those who can, but that's what I'm trying to do. To do it well requires a great grasp of the discipline, and a good knowledge of the literature -- as well as the ability to think in a multidisciplinary manner. So for the next few days, I'll probably just be reading, taking some notes, and making trips to the library. I haven't even begun to think concretely about the chapter, although I have made mental notes (abstrations?) of a few matters that I must cover. This part is always the toughest for me, though. The actual writing of the chapter won't take any time at all once I finish this final contemplative phase.
[Posted at 00:25 CST on 07/02/02] [Link]