Planning and panicking (and some academic cussin’)

My supervisor sent me an outline of the final project:

Intro : 7-10 pages
Lit Review : 15-20 pages
Comparative Analyses : 15 pages
Conclusion : 5-7 pages

My heart may have developed a temporary arrhythmia when I saw that the lit review is expected to be longer than the analyses. I’ve sent a clarifying question to see if there’s any flexibility there, but I’m reworking my plan and starting to come up with an outline to keep myself (hopefully) on track.

It’s a very vague plan.

The Plan:

Read a lot of things.

Write. A lot.

I’m kidding. That’s not really the plan. Well, it is. But not really. I mean, yes, really. But… it’ll be better by the time I’m done with it.

One of the ways that fibromyalgia is impacting my academic work is that my cognitive functioning is reduced. It takes me twice, sometimes three times, as long to read an article or a book chapter as it ever has. I often have to reread, and my retention is not great. I’m relying much more on things like calendars and reminders to keep myself on track, and I’m struggling to keep up with my reading for any of my classes. I haven’t even started writing.

When I say I haven’t even started writing, I mean that there is not a single usable word written for my honours thesis. There is not a single word written for either of my deferred papers. There are no words. They do not exist. When I add up the pages that I will have to write this semester, I panic. And then I bury my head in the sand rather than working.

This is frustrating and self-defeating.


This blog exists to make me accountable. I originally imagined that accountability being related to the messiness of academic life – a path through my research process, highlighting the areas where I take a wrong turn and have to correct, creating a living document that contradicts the idea of pure, objective academic writing.

I am re-imagining the purpose of this blog now. Perhaps I can use this accountability to keep myself working, to keep myself on track. It will still serve its original purpose, but now it has another purpose. This will be the imaginary whipmaster standing behind me. Or perhaps the cheerleader. Either one works for me!

So, accountability.

This is what I have on my plate now:

– The above list of sections for the honour’s project. Due mid-April.

I feel fairly confident about being on top of the reading and research for this. The long lit review might even be a blessing, since it will allow me to incorporate some of the community emergent work that I’ve been reading. It can provide context for the discussion of the tropes I’ll be using in my analyses, and I can see how it has potential to be part of the activist academics I’m trying to engage in. I’ll be posting it as its written and would love feedback!

 – One 12-page paper for the London course. Due Jan 31.

This paper is killing me. Downriver is nigh unto unreadable for me right now, and I can’t find an audiobook of it. I am halfway through the book, not even up to the chapter I’ve proposed writing on. I haven’t done any serious research into secondary sources. I don’t have a thesis. I haven’t even started rereading Neverwhere (but thank fuck it is a rereading!). Basically, I do not have even the beginnings of a handle on this paper.

Okay. That’s an exaggeration.

I have a bit of a focus – I’m looking at both novels as representations of ‘contemporary gothic,’ and focusing on representations of time, specifically cracked, fractured or caught time in both novels. I’m focusing on one chapter in each novel, chosen because they both take place in monasteries/churches. So, that’s… something. I’ve decided that I’ll incorporate a serious look at railroads and their place in the novels in relation to time and gothic themes. (What are ‘gothic themes’? Fucked if I know. That’s research I have yet to do!)

 – One 12-page paper for the Romantics course. Due Feb 15.

I’m writing on Mary Wollstonecraft, and proposing that she is performing feminism in A Vindication of the Rights of Women and performing femininity in her novels (I haven’t decided which one to write on yet). I haven’t read either novel or reread Vindication. I haven’t done any research. I have no idea whether my theory can be supported in the texts. I feel very concerned about entering into a research project with my theory laid out before I’ve actively engaged with the primary texts. It seems like that’s how bad research gets done. But… I had nothing for this and then I started the Performance and Performativity course and the tension within her writing suddenly seemed like it might make sense if I placed feminism counter to femininity, especially given her position within liberal feminism, and the misogyny in a lot of her work. So. Yeah. It’s something?

 – One commentary response for the Romantics course. Due Feb 15.

I’ve read most of the texts for this class, and just need to decide which one to write on. I’m not panicking about this.

This is what’s coming:

– One 1500-word paper for Performance and Performativity. Due Mar 19.

– One 12-page paper for Performance and Performativity. Due Apr 22.

– Unknown writing projects for Feminist Film Theory. Unknown due dates.

Since so much of my problem is that I haven’t done the readings yet, I’m going to report back on what I’ve read here. Also, find me on Good Reads and I’ll try to post there. That seems like a start, at least.


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