January 09, 2009

A structure

I didn't do a monthly round-up at the end of December, as the last couple of weeks of the year were a bit, um, quieter in terms of the amount of work I got down. Well, it was Christmas. However, I did get quite a bit of reading done over December, and now I'm back into term with a vengeance.

A few changes this year. One is that I'll be working more in Stratford, using the resources of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Shakespeare Institute. As good as the Warwick library is for some things, it simply doesn't have the sheer volume of resources, and it's far easier to go to Stratford than arrange for transfers.

I've also, only today, finally drafted out a structure for my entire thesis. Currently, it looks like five chapters of 10-15,000 words each, plus introduction and conclusion. It's rather scary looking at my projected thesis in this form, but not the kind of scary that I was expecting. Instead, it all looks rather doable and easy. This is scary because a) it won't be, and b) it will almost certainly need massive beefing up. My biggest fear is that the 80,000 words I've scoped out will end up being reduced to a single chapter while the thesis takes me off in entirely new directions.

I don't expect the structure to remain intact. Already, this week, I've read an article which uncomfortably closely echoes a lot of the work I've already done on the eighteenth century treatment of the apocryphal plays. This doesn't invalidate the work I've done, but it means that it doesn't have the same clout I was hoping it would. Therefore, already I have to start redrafting and rethinking my ideas. One of the hardest things in Shakespeare Studies is to say something genuinely new, but I'm still optimistic that, over the next three years, I'll be able to make a substantial original contribution to the field. If I don't, I don't get a thesis, simple as that!

Finally, for today, I'd like to highly recommend Ben Jonson's Every Man Out of his Humour. Long, but extremely funny. Includes a scene with a drunk clown making his two sack-glasses have a fight.


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I’m Peter Kirwan, a final year doctoral student in the English Department at Warwick, and this is my PhD blog.


Conferences, reviews, articles, thoughts and links relating to my interests in the Shakespeare apocrypha, early modern drama, authorship and performance.

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