Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Post about Research

Ok, so the Next Book. I feel like I need to give it a title or something so that I can post about it in a way that is vague but at least entertaining, as opposed to posting about it in a way that is vague and boring. Or maybe I should just pretend it's a book about something that it's not about and translate my research ramblings into that fake book project? I know, I know: why not just write about what I'm actually working on? Well, because a) I'm a paranoid freak and b) because there surely are like 3 people in the world who don't know who I am, and I wouldn't want to interfere with their blissful ignorance.

Thinking. I'm thinking.

Ok, so for my purposes here, my next book is going to be titled Housewives and Hussies and it's going to explore representations of women in their home environments in, say, television shows and movies throughout the 20th century. Yes. That's what I'm going to say I'm doing. It is not, in fact, what my next book is, which is sort of unfortunate because I totally feel like I would enjoy reading a book with that title and topic. Ah well. I will write about my fake book here in order to write about what's going on with my real book, which, of course, is not a book but just a jumble of ideas, really.

Anyway, I've been reading. Reading a lot. And can I just say that the experience of doing the research for this is radically different from when I did my diss research. Now, part of that is just technology. It is so. much. easier. to get one's hands on articles and books now than it was 10 years ago, and I'm saying that even though I had access to what is likely the best consortium of academic libraries in the country when I was in grad school. So I'm finding that my research is much more wide-ranging and much more... promiscuous? I think that's the best word to describe it. I'm sort of going wherever my fancy takes me without worrying about consequences.

I'm sure that two things do contribute to that sense of freedom: 1) the fact that I've already got a job and I'm not under the kind of pressure that I was under when dissertating or when taking the manuscript from dissertation to book; 2) tenure, and tenure at a non-research sort of place. It seriously doesn't matter whether I write this book, and with having tenure, I really can just have a good time with this project - it doesn't need to be "serious" in the same way that I felt like my dissertation had to. So, maybe that means I've become a lazy scholar? Eh, I've always been a lazy scholar - now I just get to embrace it :)

But so anyway, here's the thing with Housewives and Hussies, as a project. I feel very certain that this is a book that needs to be written. And apparently I'm on the cusp of something "hot" with the topic, because all over the place there are these books and articles that are adjacent to what I'm thinking about, or that have a sentence or two that gestures toward what I'm thinking about, but nobody ever quite gets to where I'm trying to go. On the one hand, I feel like this is good sign... that I'm on some sort of a right track. But then on the other, when I'm feeling less than confident about myself and the project and whatever, I feel like maybe the reason nobody ever gets where I'm trying to go is because I'm a loser who has stupid ideas. Like that the reason nobody wants to think about what I'm thinking about is because I'm thinking about stuff that is passe or because I'm thinking about stuff that is just boring.

I don't know. Anyway, so that's what I'm doing. I'm reading, and feeling like I'm really onto something except for when I feel like I'm a boring idiot who doesn't have original ideas. But then I figure that I can't really be a boring idiot who doesn't have original ideas, because, well, I'm just not any of those things. I am not boring, and I'm not an idiot, and I am totally original in the way I think. I mean, really now.

But so, I suppose I'm going to get back to it. And the next time I post I'll try to be more specific about some of what I'm doing - in terms of the Fake Book that I'm not writing.

[Aside: Do you notice that I seem to have a certain attraction to thinking of things as "fake"? I really do. I mean, fake boyfriends, fake books, where will it all end? And why is the thought of something being fake so comforting to me? Because seriously: I like it. It's like all is right with the world when things are fake. No lie. I think it might have something to do with commitmentphobia....]


physioprof said...

You know what would be totally fucking hilarious? If you spent so much time thinking and blogging about your fake book, that you ended up writing the fucking thing!

Katrina said...

I have no idea who you are, but I'm happy to hear more about housewives and hussies. It sounds like an interesting book anyway, especially if you mined some of James Lileks' retro advertising archive. Know what you mean about research too, I remember requesting articles on interlibrary loan, that would arrive as photocopies weeks later... haven't had to do that in a while!

Sisyphus said...

Not *fake*. it's artifice! And we are so totally into artifice because of our status as literary scholars!

And while I *totally* love the idea of a book on housewives and hussies and would absolutely read it, I want to know what is your new exiting research topic on the cusp of hotness!!!! Spill, spill!

Dr. Crazy said...

Sis - I sent you a Fb mssg about the real book. No details on blog, for again, I'm paranoid and also shy :)

Physioprof: The day I write Housewives and Hussies will also be the day that I marry my fake boyfriend, i.e., never. The allure of the fake is that one doesn't need to do the legwork or deal with the consequences :)

physioprof said...

Shit happens. Just sayin'.

Susan said...

Housewives and Hussies is an awesome title. Should you ever decide to write it.

But I think the sense of freedom is also at the point where the project is coming together -- you have the general shape, but it's not completely focused...

Doctor Pion said...

That truly is an awesome title, particularly because I am a fan of 40s and 50s movies and grew up in the Ozzie and Harriet decade!

But have you Googled that phrase? What a bizarre set of links!