It’s no secret, at least on this blog, that I’ve been feeling stuck and a little dejected about my progress on my dissertation. Despite moments of real progress (several pages written!), I end up tempering them (they still need footnotes!) so I don’t really feel the joy fully. I know it’s a sign of burnout, or at least a sign of burnout for me. It’s long past time to reduce stress and anxiety and find a way to reenergize myself. While my stress load gets lower every month, my exhaustion with my sources doesn’t.
I’m going to be presenting an aspect of my research this week at a conference. It’s taking the article I wrote and advancing the argument. But the problem with the article was the small sample size I had to work with. I ended up doing a lot of extrapolation. I have realized the Marine Corps chapter either has to be smaller or requires more research – more varied source material. Now, I could find there’s no more source material (which I think is the case, actually), in which case I have to adjust my thesis accordingly. There’s a different rationale when the same 5-10 images are used over and over again, rather than dozens. Be that as it may, that’s a question for this summer.
The conference has pushed me to pick up the thesis of the article and push it. See where it gives, find the weak points, reinforce or restructure as needed. To do that, I’ve needed to both boost my theoretical understanding and use another batch of sources – bring another branch into the discussion. The theoretical aspect is bogged down because I’m spending a lot of energy elsewhere, so I needed to move on to the other sources.
Tonight, I opened the folder of Army posters I pulled from NARA the same time I got the Marine Corps images. I have 111 images (including duplicates, I still have over 100) of all kinds of Army specialties. I have several distinct campaigns directed at women that are different from those directed at men. And yet…then I looked into the Navy folder and it’s even clearer:
THE MESSAGES ARE THE SAME. It’s “You’ll become a MAN” versus “You’ll still be a WOMAN.”
HOT DAMN. I’M RIGHT.
I’M FUCKING RIGHT.
It’s time to write the dissertation. For real.