I’ve been trying to find a way to make my dissertation topic “unique”. That being said, I really wasn’t looking forward to my dissertation class today. We were suppose to meet in groups of 12 (there were 10 groups) and talk about our topics. Supposedly we were all stuck in groups based on our preliminary topic choice form. Once we got to the right room the head dissertation professor announced, “Medievalists are one group, Early Modern another. Modern – well, I just stuck you in groups where I felt like it.” So much for based on topic.
My group had I think 7 people doing a topic with something to do on Nazi Germany. I’m pretty sure half of them didn’t read German. Yes, a lot has been translated but what if it hasn’t? I shouldn’t retort because I don’t know Czech but German is a pretty easy language to learn and it’s offered at a lot of places.
There was a guy who wanted to write on how Stalin’s purges led to the KGB. Interesting. Another guy had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do. I felt a little bad for him because our final topic choice forms were due at the end of the class. Then there was a guy who wanted to do the Suez Canal Crisis and finally one who wanted to do it on the Winter War between Finland and Russia. (Nope, he doesn’t read Russian or Finnish.)
A professor I had come to dislike came to talk to us individually. As I was talking about my topic I mentioned – and I have absolutely no idea why I said this – I wondered why Slovakia didn’t continue with lustration policies while the Czech Republic’s lustration policies have been extended indefinitely. The professor’s eyes lit up and said, “Now there’s something you can do!” There’s lots written on the Velvet Divorce, including a book I’m currently reading, and also about Czech-Slovak relations.
I thought at first, yeah, but I’ll have to research the Prague Spring which I’ve been avoiding like the plague and even earlier. I thought “Hey, that’s not social history enough for me!” But then I realized I was happy. I was looking forward to answering the question I said earlier about lustration. I haven’t felt happy or looked forward to my dissertation in a while if I’m being honest. I came out of that class feeling ready to tackle the massive amount of research I now need to do. I’m changing my angle which means I have to go back through books I threw out because they didn’t have what I wanted as well as books where I skipped sections. But still, I’m happy knowing I have a better path.
The other big thing that’s been happening lately academically (we won’t go into socially) – has been my War and Society essay. I switched from writing on war ideologies to the legacies of the Vietnam War. I think everyone knows my dislike of studying American history so it was more out of necessity than anything. I’m going to be travelling A LOT in the next few weeks and the essay is due the 13th. I needed something I could do a little research on and still bang out a nice essay.
I chose to write about how student protests during Vietnam led to some big changes in the U.S. and how those protests were a legacy in and of themselves. I started my essay and it was dragging. Then I remembered something from the 2008 election – how hugely involved the youth vote mattered. I had just finished reading about the 26th Amendment which lowered the voting age. And then I was off!
I’ve got 700 words left on that essay, 1400 on my Archives essay (due the 19th) and I’m off to London tomorrow. After London I’ve got a week before I’m off to Scotland, therefore my plan is to finish both the essays in the week between London and Scotland so that I don’t have to write while in Scotland. I’m trusting it’ll work out. 🙂