Admittedly, I read completely through my first draft of my first chapter of my thesis for the first time today. It wouldn’t be remiss to call it a frankenchapter. There are certainly good ideas, and it’s close to being presentable, but it was mostly written in parts, and that shows. It lacks continuity, and there are abrupt introductions of ideas that don’t go anywhere.
A couple of take-aways from today’s read-through:
1. A new introductory paragraph is needed that outlines the structure of the chapter. As this structure is likely to change over the next couple of days, I’m going to leave the current paragraph as a place-holder. But the paragraph must include, minimally, life stories as narrative, narrative identity, the adolescence importance in life story, agency & communion, imagoes, how these ideas will be applied, why adolescents are important in narrative psychology, and a defense of the use of the three novels.
2. I want to take a serious look at the number of terms I’ve introduced. One of the main paragraphs on life story for instance on page 3 seems largely out of place. I wonder if I need the term at all. It’s unfortunate that McAdams uses this term instead of narrative identity in Stories We Live By. There must be a better way of describing life story though than relying on a hierarchy involving narrative identity. Indeed, even with all of that confusing hierarchical talk, on page 4, when I get to the “Life Story and the Adolescent” I still want to know what life story is.
3. Many of the sections could be made better with better transitions, especially the “Agency and Communion” section.
4. The “Narrative structure is general knowledge” line on page 5 could be made better by discussing McLean and her work on how culture provides many of the narratives we use on a daily basis.
5. There are a couple of really cool places for growth. With the right unpacking, I have some really cool directions.
- The tension that develops as adolescents shift from collecting stories to creating them.
- The idea that a narrator of a novel cannot be observed outside of the story, meaning, on some level, that the narrator must become the imago(es) he narrates.
Feeling good about the revising process!
*For those of you who are not Dr. Bianco, I’m going to be doing these pretty regularly now (and by regularly, I mean daily). They won’t always be this long, and I will continue to blog every once in a while about things other than thesis. I just need the public aspect to keep myself motivated. If I get a lot of complaints about this, I will consider moving this portion of my blog to some other webspace.
Spencer, this ROCKS. Insightful, thoughtful, and accurate–but incomplete; your readers also deserve to know the things you are doing *well* with this project.. You forgot to mention that your thesis so far is a brilliant and sophisticated blend of psychology, philosophy, and literature, and your prose is both mature and eloquent. Keep up the excellent work. Dr. Bianco
PS: I imagine that some of your readers, like you, are working on theses or dissertations. They’ll probably find your entries to be inspiring. However, I will take full responsibility if the rest of your audience lapses into comas out of boredom…