Is that the new three or the old three?

January 27, 2006

During the blog hiatus I was working on chapter two of five, which had a serious logical problem in it. The first half was tight, well argued, and compelling. It told an important story and came to a resounding finish. On about page 35. The second half was no good at all.

So, I took the metaphorical cleaver to chapter two of five, and suddenly found that I had completed chapter two of six, and that chapter three of six now needed work. That new chapter then got expanded and rearranged, and then sent to my advisor earlier this month.

He does not like it - it has some clever ideas but the transitions need to exist and I need to explain what I am doing before I go off to be clever. So, I am working on a precis of the chapter, boiling about 55 pages down into about six paragraphs (intro, conclusion, 4 body paragraphs for the 4 sections of the argument.)

Not surprising, it takes a lot of thinking. And, not surprisingly, I find myself doing almost anything rather than do that hard work. I am not yet at the point of polishing the copper cookware as a way to avoid writing. I don't think I will get that far. But I do need to figure out my plans. More below the line.

Chapter 3 of six has four major sections. There is a discussion of religious groups in the two decades after 1800; a discussion of Thomas Jefferson, The Danbury Baptists, and Jefferson's invocation of geography instead of Providence; the story of the sabbath mails controversy of 1810-1817; and a look at James Madison, the midwestern constitutions written between 1810 and 1819, and James Monroe's Burkean civil religion where he invoked the founders and the Constitution to fight sectional splintering during and after the Missouri crisis.

The challenge is to make sure that I have a clear argument for each section, and then to tie the four sub-arguments together into a single argument about the changing nature of American civil religion between 1801 and 1820.

And so to think.

Posted by Red Ted at January 27, 2006 07:34 PM | TrackBack