Keep Calm and R&R

It’s August, and for academics hoping to get some writing done this summer, it’s go time.

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In conversations with my writing group colleagues, who come from fields as diverse as information sciences, business, community health, and religion, we spend a lot of time discussing ways to respond to a revise and resubmit. Some of us charge right in, addressing comments the day we receive them. Some of us (in the more quantitative fields) make tables of reviewer comments and check them off one by one. Having spent years in the trenches as a writing tutor, and continuing to teach writing, I’m always fascinated by the different methods writers use to approach challenges such as interpreting and implementing reviewer feedback.

In the spirit of the many posts here at the Junto on the nuts and bolts of academic writing, I’ve written up my own process for tackling referee feedback in a revise and resubmit. It’s inspired, in part, by Wendy Laura Belcher’s brilliant Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks.

Here’s what I do when a new crop of reader reports lands in my inbox: Continue reading

Should You Write your Dissertation as a Book?

Impostor syndrome comes in many forms in academia, and this is how it comes for me: I shouldn’t be a doctor, because I never wrote a dissertation. I just wrote a book. It’s not that I regret the choice. But since that book came out, I’ve had the chance to think about what can be gained, and what lost, by writing your dissertation as a book. This is not a pro-con list. It is a pro-pro list. The hitch is, you can only pick one. Continue reading

Narrative, Biography, and Hagiography: Reflections on Some Challenges in Microhistory

Narrative, Biography, and Hagiography: Reflections on Some Challenges in Microhistory

1810weemsthelifeofgeorgewashingtonShortly after the publication of Parlor Politics, Catherine Allgor was invited to reflect not only the political wives she’d written about, but also their husbands. Reflecting on John Quincy Adams, Allgor quipped “I like complicated men.”[1] While tongue-in-cheek, Allgor’s comment undoubtedly reflects why historians decide to study individuals. Unpacking the layers of “complicated men” (and women) can make for a fascinating project. But historians have also had a complicated relationship with biographies. No doubt this is because, like many narrative histories, some of the earliest Early American biographies were written as exercises in nationalism, and/or with hagiographic tendencies.[2] Moreover, when researching and writing on higher-profile individuals, many of the sources we encounter ourselves are of the narrative sort.

Continue reading