Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 3 dissertation notes (week 2)

Things done this week:

  • Submitted my outline, along with the 9-page project summary I’d written earlier in the summer. On Tuesday I came to the conclusion that I could spend another couple of weeks trying to perfect the outline, but that what I actually need right now is feedback on the dissertation’s current state. So I sent everything off without much further ado.
  • Finished typing notes on the two books I mentioned last week—John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy and The Art of Listening in the Early Church.
  • Read/skimmed five journal articles of potential relevance. The impressive thing here is that I did skim, as this is an academic skill which I have generally balked at mastering. Even though I know it’s necessary and expected, it always leaves me feeling a bit yucky. I see the point, though—of these five articles, only one (on Gregory’s preaching on festal occasions) is likely going to be cited much, so it would have been a waste of time to read each of them closely. I guess.
My intent for next week is to begin working on one of my chapters—on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit—in earnest. But that’s sort of pending my advisor’s response.

Other stuff

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the last few years is that I process new material fairly slowly. I don’t feel I’ve actually read something until I’ve written about it, or, at minimum, taken some notes on it. So going through a highly pertinent secondary source (book/monograph) takes me a long time, because I first have to read it carefully, mark important passages with Post-Its, then type up my notes in a Word document. I’m not very quick about any of it. I’ve thought many times that my colleagues must have more efficient ways of doing research, but I haven’t stumbled upon an alternative that works for me. I don’t like reading on or in front of the computer—when I’m reading a book, I really prefer to read a book—and while I have no objection to handwritten notes, I don’t have a system for keeping track of them, and it’s easier to have notes in a searchable format for a project on this scale. So I just keep plodding through everything. I guess you can see why I’ve been kind of a slowpoke about this. And why I have a hard time with skimming.

It’s worth noting that I found a route for a good 30-minute walk through the neighborhood this week—on the days I’m working at home, this is as important for my mental well-being as anything else.

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