Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to Plan a Ph.D. 8: State of the Field


So you have your archives, and you have your methods down. And you've developed some hypotheses for investigating those archives. (Click on the “Ph.D. advice” tag to find the six previous posts.) Now it's time to assess the state of the field.

This is now incredibly easy. Why? Because the state of the field is just the current state of your methods as they pertain, or not, to your archives.

The order in which these 3–4 page subsections of your proposal actually come are:
1. Statement of purpose
2. State of the field
3. Archives
4. Methods
5. Chapter Summary (with hypotheses)

(Often you'll be expected to swap 3 and 4 around because of the epistemological turn in humanities. I've argued against this on the blog numerous times if you search.)

But it's much much easier to write them thus: 3, 5, 4, 2, 1.

Of course if no one has ever done deconstructive readings (method) of Gorboduc (archive), you're in luck.

If others have worked on x using method y, this section is where you need to talk about that. The golden rule: positioning is not cool nor is it expected. How can you possibly say “My work will be much better than scholar z's because ...” at this point? You can however give a decent outline of the state of the field. Then in your written or oral exam to qualify for your Ph.D. you can outline how you'll differ or go beyond.

2 comments:

Heather J. said...

Thanks for sharing these posts with us at UCD. REALLY helpful framework as I take prelims and write a prospectus over this next year.

Heather J. said...

Thanks for sharing these posts with us at UCD. REALLY helpful framework as I take prelims and write a prospectus over this next year.