A senior colleague had sent me an email urging me to consider a particular junior scholar for a job. What a relief to write back that I have no part in the appointment of anyone for quite sometime. He asked what I was working on and I owned up to the BOOK project and especially my difficulties finding an appropriate authorial voice. He owned up that he was one of the presses anonymous readers for the series and that he was looking forward to my volume. He went on to suggest so useful templates–writers he admires, some of his own writing he thought successful. A warm fuzzy exchange.
After paying as little attention to the rest of my email as I felt possible (still took an hour), I found the editors’ and peer reviewer’s [=PR] comments for the PREVIOUS CHAPTER. I tried to read them straight through lying on my back but got too nervous and defensive. [“How dare they judge me?!”] Giving up on that holistic approach to accepting feedback, I decided to start at the beginning of the chapter and treat each comment like an item on a to do list. So far so good. Discovered I hated my own abstract, so restructured that and then got paranoid about my survey of the literature so did a couple sweeps through the online journals for missed content. Found one ‘gem’ which resulted in an expanded footnote.
Now I’m into the meat of the feedback. The PR is telling me that I’ve given too much credence to the assertions of another scholar who is claiming to have identified a major change whereas the phenomenon observed may only be an increase in the previous trend. Now we’re stuck in an irritating framework of continuity/change. Worst of all the PR (who I almost gendered as ‘he’, but then resisted) used my own words later in the same piece to convince me I don’t agree with the other scholar as much as I seem to suggest.
But what do I think? The other scholar’s work seemed useful. I didn’t find it very bright I’ll admit, but it seemed nice and easy to mention it up front and then move along to my own work. It was like saying I’m not walking this line of reasoning myself others have been here.
Part of me is tempted to adjust the nuance of my presentation just to make the editors happy that I took on board the PR’s comments. I can then ‘produce’ the chapter faster. Get it done. I feel strangely like I don’t really care if its continuity or change. The question doesn’t really interest me. I think I’ll adopt the ‘continuity’ line because the PR suggests that would give my work greater internal coherence. I do wish to be coherent.
In other news, emails produced proofs for a book review not on the list from the previous post. So I corrected them. In that instance, I was generator of Other People’s Opinions [OPO]. And, I discovered I missed a major local conference at which a number of my grad school colleagues were present this past weekend. And, I received a reminded that the September deadline for the paper is firm.
It’s now after 5 pm and I’m getting a little punchy working through the suggested edits. I’ve decided I like my PR. The best OPO of the day is certainly: ” ‘for fear of being accused of Quellenforschung.’: this sounds as if Quellenforschung is a dirty word. Is that really the case? I know we’re all critical of old-school Quellenforschung these days, but I wouldn’t say that you could ‘accuse someone of Quellenforschung’. Perhaps you can accuse them of ‘uncritical Quellenforschung’, though?” Nope. Quellenforschung definitely sounds like a dirty word and is going to remain one in my vocabulary, EVEN when I indulge in it myself.