Tag: writing

A week in the life of writing a dissertation

I recently had a whole week to work on my dissertation. Each day I wrote my
thoughts at the beginning of the day and a short To Do list. I thought I would
share as it is a small glimpse into the process of writing a large scholarly
work.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Today I worked on
– flow and structure of Chapter 1, part 2.
– take out all of the passive voice in chapter 1, part 2, and parts of the
Introduction.
– Export parts of the Intro and Chapter 1 to Word document to send to
committee.

Didn’t finish going through:
– flow and narrative of Research Question and Argument sections of the
Introduction.
– flow and argument of Chapter 1, part 2, to see if it fits section
conclusion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I should read through the chapters about the prisoners to see if they actually
uphold my new argument…

To do today:
– Read Introduction for flow and narrative. Check for grammar, argument, etc.
– Read Chapter 1, part 2 for flow, narrative, grammar, and to see if it fits
the conclusion of that section.
– Format and send it to committee.

Need to research:
– which historians argue that “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” was selectively
applied, and which do not.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Maybe I should just roll Chapter 1, part 1 into part 2 and not have parts.

To do today:
– Read through Koel book on history of the SS.
– Start reading Langerich’s biography of Himmler (decided to get the English
version for the sake of time).
– Read through Chapter 3 to see if my new argument is supported
– Notes while reading:
– Clarrify argument for the chapter and rewrite the chapter introduction.
– Use available works about the Neuengamme KL when discussing the
Neuengamme KL
– Address the vast literature about the Holocaust and KL research. Put
the most important in a big footnote.
– Passive voice should be removed!
– Prison Infirmary section: Add wordage that talks about how the SS did
not care for the inmates and wanted them to die.
– Technical writing point: Add @ to the end of the Zotero source when
citing multiple sources. Then in Word, search for '.@' and replace with
','.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Really frustrated and depressed about the dissertation today. I don’t think I’ll
get it finished, and I don’t care to work on it anymore. I don’t think I’ll get
the argument right. I probably can’t justify/support the argument based on the
research I have already done, and I can’t handle any more research at the
moment. It’s never enough! (This song comes to mind: https://youtu.be/37tzsSP-Dc0)

Well, suck it up, quit whining (elitist, 1st world problems) and get back to
reading through Chapter 3.

Notes while reading:
– At beginning of Prisoner Hierarchy section, discuss why important and what
it shows about SS ideology vs. economic drive.
– Do this for each section.
– Prisoner Hierarchy section:
– Make note that this camp used similar hierarchy as other camps. Self
regulating inmates.
– Section on hair: provide more analysis. What did the different hair cuts
mean?
– Letters and packages section: Show that Danish were privileged because
they were the only ones allowed to send and receive letters and packages.

Friday, July 15, 2016

So, good news back from the committee which means I’m in good spirits again.
What I did was actually good and acceptable. So now, moving on. Some thoughts:
– Perhaps just merge part 1 and part 2 of chapter 1.
– Maybe leave Chapter 3 and 4 as is with a clarification or argument that the
survivor voices should stand on their own. Then a fifth chapter analyzing
them?

To do today:
– Read through Spoerer book, to say that I have and footnote it, shows basics
of SS history. Found really good article by Spoerer with discussion about
defining the terms forced laborer, foreign laborer, slave laborer, and
less-than-slave laborer. Use this in Chapter 1 instead of the confusing
paragraph I had before.
– Merge part 1 and 2 in Chapter 1. (not done yet)
– Write up this weeks notes as a blog post (done a few days later)
– Format Chapter 1 and update the dissertation website (not done yet).

The Writing Stack: Zotero -> Scrivener -> ODT -> Docx -> Markdown -> HTML

Scrivener to Markdown and HTML

How to write in Scrivener and display in HTML, Markdown, ODT, or Doc and keep the footnotes and images.

This is the process I use for getting my chapters out of Scrivener and formatted into Markdown and HTML for putting on the web. Markdown for Github, and HTML for a static website, and Doc for turning in to advisors and the Library.

Write it

Use Scrivener to bring all of the notes and sources together in one place.

Note it

The process of writing actually begins while reading through books and looking at original source documents. For each source (whether book, document, image, or web page) I create an entry in Zotero. With an entry in Zotero, I create a child-note for that entry and take notes in that child-note. I always include the page number in the notes for easy referencing later. A typical note for an entry in Zotero looks like this:

Kaj Björn Karbo (July 4, 1920)

{ | Karbo, 1947 | | |zu:312:A6J3JADD} 

page 1,
1400 men were supposed to wash in half and hour at 20 faucets.
Longest roll call was 4 hours because a couple of men had escaped.

page 2,
Relationship to Kapos was bad, also to Russians, and somewhat so to other nationalities.
Kapos were German, Russian, Polish and Czech

page 3,
Punishments consisted of beatings with boards from a bed and truncheon. 
Stretched over a bench and held by four men and then beat

page 4,
Was part of many different work commands. In January 1945 was Schieber, 
the lowest rung of prison hierarchy. He was in charge of a 16 man work 
gang. they helped German civilian workers build a factory for synthetic fuel.

The part in curly braces { | Karbo, 1947 | | |zu:312:A6J3JADD} comes in handy later when adding citations in Scrivener.

Compose it

With all of the notes taken (for now, it can be a never ending process), copy and paste the relevant notes in the correct section of the Scrivener outline. Basically, each idea gets its own ‘page’. This boils down to each paragraph, more or less, on its own ‘page’.

Export it

First step is to export the chapter from Scrivener.

  • Export it as the OpenOffice (.odt) format. Give it a name like chapter2.odt.

Scan it

To get the footnotes into the correct format (MLA, Chicago, etc), we’ll scan the .odt file with Zotero. This creates a new file.

  • Open Zotero, click the gear, and select ‘RTF/ODF Scan’.
  • Select the file you created above (chapter2.odt).
  • Create a new name and place to save it (chapter2-citations.odt)

Cite it

The Zotero scan converts all of the coded citations from Scrivener into ‘normal’ citations.

from this: { | Blanke-Bohne, 1984 | p. 16 | |zu:312:KMQEIBU0N}

to this: Blanke-Bohne, 1984.

To get it into a different citation style, we’ll open up the file in LibreOffice and change the citation style using the Zotero ‘Set Document Preferences’ menu.

from this: Blanke-Bohne, 1984.

to this: Blanke-Bohne, Reinhold. "Die unterirdische Verlagerung von Rüstungsbetrieben und die Aßuenlager des KZ Neuengamme in Porta Westfalica bei Minden." Dissertation, University of Bremen, 1984.

After the changes finish (could take a while), then save the document as a Word, make sure to do a ‘Save As’ .docx file (chapter2-citations.docx).

Fix it

Only the .docx format is supported by pandoc for extracting images, so we’ll need to use Word as the final format before converting to Markdown and HTML. Frankly, it also has much better grammar and spell checking.

Open the .docx in Microsoft Word and fix up any formatting issues.

I also turn this version in to my advisors for review.

Convert it

In the terminal, we’ll use the pandoc command to convert the file to Markdown and HTML.

This will convert the .docx file to a markdown file, extracting the images and putting them in a ‘files/media/’ directory.

The images are named incrementally in the order they are encountered in the document. The images are given a default name, keeping the extension. If I had four images in the file (two jpegs, one png, and one gif), they would be extracted and named like so: image1.jpeg, image2.jpeg, image3.png, image4.gif, etc.

We’ll have to go in and fix the tables and check for other formatting issues.

pandoc --smart --extract-media=files -f docx -t markdown_github chapter1-citations.docx -o chapter1.md

Next we can create an HTML file using pandoc and the .docx file.

pandoc --smart --extract-media=files --ascii --html-q-tags --section-divs -f docx -t html5 chapter1-citations.docx -o chapter1.html

This creates an HTML file with the images linked to the files in the files/media/ directory and the footnotes converted to hyperlinks.

Version it

Now these files can more easily be tracked with a versioning system, like git, and the HTML files can be uploaded for a static website version of the
dissertation. Styling can easily be applied if used in a Jekyll site.

For sharing on Github, there are two repos, main and gh-pages.

main repo

The main repo is simply the chapter directories with each of the document versions and the extracted media files. Once edits and conversions are done, this is updated with a simple

git add .
git commit -m "Updates chapter X"
git push

gh-pages repo

The gh-pages repo contains the files needed to convert the html version of the doucments into a Jekyll based static website. The trick here is to get all of the updates from the main repo into this gh-pages repo. This is accomplished with doing the following command while checked out in the gh-pages branch.

```
git checkout master -- chapterX
```

Before I can push the new changes to Github, I’ll need to fix a few things in the html version of the chapter.

First is to add some YAML front matter. I add this to the beginning of the HTML version.

---
layout: page
title: Chapter X
---

Second, update the path for the images so that they will work. I open the file in Vim and do a simple search and replace:

:%s/img src="files/img src="..\/files/g

Now I can update the gh-pages branch and the site.

git add .
git commit -m "Add updates from chapterX"
git push

The Mechanics of Writing a Dissertation

Update from this post: Setting the Pace from January 3, 2013.

I’m a nerdy, geeky type of guy, fascinated with technology, so I just had to figure out a way to keep myself on track using a spreadsheet. I chose Google Docs through my Google account as it is safely backed up online and I can do cool things like provide a link for anyone to see it and thereby keep track of my progress.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aq1zQ58RVggudG5lc3FUZm54VU9DMXc5ZTJ6N3NwLUE&usp=sharing

Weekly Schedule
Weekly Schedule

The Plan

With ideas and thoughts cribbed from Eviatar Zerubavel’s The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books, I came up with a deadline (December 31, 2014, so that I can edit and finalize things before graduation in May 2015), and looked at a calendar to plot the days I would be able to work. I first put down all of the events and times where I know I will NOT be able to work on the dissertation. Saturdays and Sundays are out because of family and religious reasons (my family gets me for 2 whole days of the week, where it’s my turn to take care of the kids). 40 hours a week for work. Sleeping time (although that’s the first to go). And any other times I knew I wouldn’t work on the dissertation; holidays, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

With some basic numbers, I was ready to put together a tracking spreadsheet: 250 pages for a dissertation (on the short end for history dissertations, but I’ll have a lot of digital aspects to supplement), with roughly 40 pages a chapter; 175 days to work until December 31, 2014; 12 hours a week; 2.5 hours a day with 4.5 hours one day of the week. That works out to about 1.5 pages a day (that I plan on working) or .5 pages an hour. That seems easy enough. I can write half a page in an hour… when I have the material in hand (and mind) already. This is by far the hardest part; not waking up at 4am (that’s easy).

I have a sheet to keep track of the days I work on the dissertation, how many pages I write that day, and what I worked on.

Daily Tracking Sheet
Daily Tracking Sheet

This automatically updates my “dashboard” that tracks things on a monthly level, with a cell with giant numbers of how many pages left I have to write. The closer I get to 0, the greener the cell automatically becomes. (I just can’t help it.)

 

Dashboard
Dashboard

The downside to this, is that it doesn’t really track the progress of the actual chapters; how much of chapter one is left, how much of the introduction is written, etc. I don’t really have a set number of pages to reach in order to call a chapter “done”. It’s “done” when I get all of the information across and points made and theories explored and backed up with examples. That could take 40 pages or 100 pages. But a rough guesstimate and quick goal is for 40 pages per chapter.

The Tools

This is where Scrivener comes into play, or would “more better” if I spent more time figuring and configuring the awesome tracking abilities built into Scrivener. One of the great progress tracking features is to set a “words per section” goal. A quick calculation and another rough guesstimate puts us at 350 words per page, or 87,500 words. You can set a word goal for each section, and then see the results as you type and see all sections in a group at a glance. I have each chapter broken down into smaller sections, and each of those sections gets a word goal.

Now I just need to use all of these tools and get back to work!

 

Setting the Pace

It’s time to really buckle down and get this dissertation going.

I read “The Clockwork Muse” by Eviatar Zerubavel to give me some ideas on how to accomplish the monumental task of writing a dissertation. In a nutshell, the trick is small pieces, planned times, and deadlines. In more detail, here are some notes that I took away from this book and have implemented in my pacing guide to dissertation completion.

800px-BCL5_Saturday_ScheduleSchedule: Schedule specific times to write, specific hours and days each week. Look at your week, plot out all of your existing commitments, family, work, etc. and schedule writing time into the available spots. Scheduling the time gives it reality, fits it in with your already planned life, and gives it boundaries. The book suggests figuring out how long of a session works for you, and keeping your writing times limited to that. I shouldn’t have any problem, because I can only get a few hours in a day anyways. I have a family (a wonderful wife and five amazing children who want to see their husband and dad some time during the week), a full-time job, Church responsibilities, and personal health needs. That gives me about three hours on three days a week. Making some changes during the summer, I should be able to bump that up to five hours on those three days a week. Plan for known vacations, trips, and other blocks of days where you know you will not be able to write. I figured that I will have three days a week to write, but I still have a lot of research to do, so I bumped that down to two days of writing and one day of research.

513px-Elephant_at_Indianapolis_ZooBits and Pieces: Another tip is to divide the dissertation up into as small of parts as possible. This does several things. First it is psychologically a lot easier to think about focusing on writing 5, 10 or 20 pages of a section or chapter, than it is to think about writing a 300 page dissertation. I already had an outline during the prospectus writing phase. That has certainly changed already (due to the need to focus on one tunnel instead of all of them), and will change again as I learn more about the topic. To help with a very basic outline, I looked at several similar works and based my outline on their table of contents. Here is what I have so far:

  1. Introduction: Historiography, methodology, and arguments
  2. Chapter 1: Business Above Ground (193x-1944)
  3. Chapter 2: Decision to Disperse
  4. Chapter 3: Organization of Project X
  5. Chapter 4: Tunnel Technology and Topology
  6. Chapter 5: Collaboration with Killers
  7. Chapter 6: Persecuted and Perpetrators
  8. Conclusion: Meanings, Memories and Movements

That’s about it. I don’t know which tunnel, or which business I will study yet. Once that is clarified, I’ll be able to fill in the X’s and flush out the outline.

One other idea I liked about this section, is to not fall into the traditional trap of writing one chapter at a time. Zerubavel suggests, rather, to write as much as you can on all sections. That makes it that much easier when going through each revision, because you have something there already. Having a draft of the whole dissertation is much different, and far and away much better, than having a draft of only part of the dissertation, regardless of how “finished” the parts are. I’m going to give that a try.

Fail to plan? Plan to Fail: This next part was great in helping me visualize and actually help me believe that this project is actually achievable. With my end date in mind (December 2014, which will give me buffer time and time for revisions for a April 2015 defense and May 2015 graduation date), I figured out a rough estimate of pages needed, how days I will work, how many hours per day, and therefore how many hours available to write the dissertation. Dividing the pages by the hours gives me how many pages an hour I need to write, and a rough estimate of how many pages a day and week I will need to write. I gave myself a whole month of no writing for this year and next for buffer and reality. July of this year is all research, and I’m sure something will come up next year. Here’s what I came up with:

MONTHS

  • 20 months of work (until December 2014, should have first draft all done, and getting revisions for second draft in January-February 2015, third draft in March-April 2015, submit final in April, defend in May 2015)

DAYS

  • 240 days
  • 12 days/month to work on dissertation

HOURS

  • 804 hours total to work on dissertation until December 2014.
  • A) 3 hours/day to work on dissertation, until June 2013 = 144 hours, March-June 2013 (Monday, Thursday, Friday 5pm-8pm)
  • B) 5 hours/day if I don’t teach seminary = 660 hours, August 2013 – December 2014 (Monday, Thursday, Friday 5am-7am, 5pm-8pm)

PAGES

  • 300 pages, goal to write that many pages
  • 0.4 pages/hour
  • A) 1.5 pages/day, 2 days/week, March-June 2013, 12 pages/month
  • B) 2.5 pages/day, 2 days/week, August 2013 – December 2014, 20 pages/month
  • 6 chapters (not including intro and conclusion)
  • 40 pages/chapter (Intro and conclusion 30 pages each)

Next, I mapped out each day on a monthly calendar (March 2013 until May 2015) with my goals and a place to write my actual progress for the day, like so:

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 6.12.59 PM

This gives me a tangible, and handy chart to mark of progress, keep myself in line, and give something to others so they can see how I have allotted my time.

The author also suggests making up incentives for accomplishing certain milestones. I have not got to that point yet, but I know what the prize is for finishing the dissertation… a cruise!

669px-Jean-Luc_Picard_2Make It So: It’s easy for Captain Picard to get things done, he just says, “Make it so” and people do their jobs and get it done. Well, I’m the captain of this ship, and I say, “Make it so.” Some final tips to get writing are to write out a very rough, very temporary first draft of the whole dissertation. That way, when you get to focus on a specific section, I’m not looking at a blank page, but rather have something to massage, improve upon, and form.

Also, I want to make the transitions from day to day as smooth as possible. Zerubavel suggests taking a few minutes at the end of each writing session to prepare for the next. That way the time wasting and destructive self-critiquing of the previous sessions work is avoided. Some suggestions are to edit the latest draft of the up coming couple of pages, gather materials, sources, ideas for the next session.

Finally, it all boils down to discipline and flexibility. Making a plan, sticking to it, but being flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen issues.

Notes:

All images from http://commons.wikimedia.org/

The Tools to Do the Job – Scrivener, Zotero, LibreOffice

(This post is cross-posted at my personal blog)

Scrivener is awesome software for writing, that I’ve mentioned before, but I had yet to really test out the integration with Zotero (my citation manager of choice). So now that I have finally started on my dissertation writing in earnest (and not grant writing), I needed to make sure that footnotes are usable in my work flow. So this is a quick write up of the tools I will use in writing my dissertation, and how I will use them.

The Tools

LibreOffice: Free and Open Source document software. Who knows how long I will have access to free Microsoft Word? LibreOffice (the fork of OpenOffice) will always be free and freely available. The steps will be basically the same if you are using Microsoft Word, just substitute that program for LibreOffice when it comes to it.


Zotero: I’m certainly biased, but Zotero is the greatest citation management software evar! Also free and open source. I’m using the stand alone version, but you can use the Firefox extension as well. Should work the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Scrivener: The greatest writing software I’ve seen. So good I even paid for it. I don’t usually do that with software (as you can see, I like free and open source).

 

 

 

 

The Process

Here I will try to outline the process I found that will save footnotes from existing documents into Scrivener, and Scrivener created footnotes into exported documents. From there, it’s easy to create Zotero connected footnotes.

1. Copy existing documents with footnotes into Scrivener

Copy from LibreOffice
Copy from LibreOffice

The first issue to run across is to put your existing documents into scrivener. I wrote a paper for Hist 811 that is basically the bulk of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the dissertation. It’s needs some finessing in order to fit in the dissertation. It would be a shame to lose the footnotes, which is what happens if you just use Scrivener’s import file process. This is an easy fix. Just copy the text from your document and paste it into a Scrivener text area.

Then with your Scrivener project open, create a new text area, or select an existing one, which ever, and paste it in. Nothing special there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Create new footnotes in Scrivener

Scrivener makes a Footnote
See how Scrivener makes a footnote!

What is special, though is what Scrivener does with that footnote. See there, footnote number 20, right after the quote about the cocktail of causes and rearmament being one of the ingredients? Now in Scrivener we have the word “ingredient” highlighted and underlined, and on the right side of the Scrivener window, there is a new footnote with all of the content of the original footnote. Sweet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy as Format->Footnote, or use the shorcut keys Ctrl-Cmd-8

That’s all well and good. What if we want to edit the text a little bit, add some good stuff and add another footnote in there? What do we do? Well, Scrivener has a way to add a footnote. Just highlight some text (the footnote will be inserted after the last word), and go to the Format menu and select Footnote. Or you can use the fancy shortcut keys, for faster typing and footnote inserting, Ctrl-Cmd-8 (⌃⌘8).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look, Ma! A new footnote!

Now you have a new, blank, footnote area to put a footnote reverence in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select the reference in Zotero and drag it into the footnote box in Scrivener.

Zotero makes it easy to put the reference in that new empty footnote with drag and drop citations. Just pull up your Zotero (either from Firefox, or if you have the standalone version). Select the reference you want, and drag it into the empty footnote section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Moving from Scrivener to a document, and keeping your footnotes!

So, ideally, you would be able to export your text document, and all of these lovely footnotes you have made in Scrivener, using Zotero, would just magically work in a Word or LibreOffice document. It doesn’t, yet (or ever?). So here is how to get your footnotes into a document, and then get those footnotes to be Zotero enabled.

Srivener->File->Export->Files

First, you export your Scrivener document to RTF format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select RTF format

Select the plain RTF format, and the first check box for only the selected files (although, you could un check this if you want to do all of your files at once. No other check boxes are needed. Then just hit the Export button.

 

 

 

 

 

Open it up with your favorite document program, LibreOffice or Word.

Next, you will want to open your new RTF document in LibreOffice (or Word if you’re using that program).

 

 

 

All my citations are in the house!

You will notice that all of your footnotes are in this file. Yeah! Sometimes the text had odd font sizes and styles. So a quick ‘Select All’ and change it to default style and Times New Roman, 12 pt should fix that right up. Now here is the labor intensive part. For each footnote, we’re going to have to recreate it so that it is handled by Zotero. Then we’ll delete the original footnote. It would be nice of Scrivener could export the footnotes in a way that Zotero could detect them, but alas it is not to be.

 

Now you add a citation through the zotero buttons to make a zotero-aware citation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All my citations are in the house!

Insert a Zotero citation using the Zotero buttons in your document program’s menu bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prefer the Zotero classic view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new citation find view is pretty slick, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can add pages with a coma, space, number.

 

 

 

 

Now you have two citations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With two citations in the document, you’ll need to delete the one that was not made by zotero.

 

 

 

 

 

Just make sure you delete the non-zotero aware citation. The Zotero citation is usually highlighted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you can save the document as a different file format: odt, doc, docx

Now save the document as an ODT document. If it is saved as anything else, it will not be Zotero aware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take your pick of file types.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save as the correct file format if you want Zotero to be able to edit them again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One alternative method is to create footnotes in Scrivener using the format {Author, Year, Page#}. Then export as an RTF document as before. Then, in Zotero, use the ‘RTF Scan’ tool in the Preferences menu. Zotero will see all of the citations and replace them nicely with formatted citations (using Ibid. and short notation for repeat books, and such). Zotero will not be aware of these citations at all, so if you need them to be Zotero aware, you might as well use the steps outlined above. If you do not expect to update citations or the text once done in Scrivener, then this may be the easiest way to go.

Now I can happily transfer existing documents into Scrivener and save the footnotes!

Writing is like chiseling a statue

Like a block of stone

MAY 3. 2007: THE STONE IS WAITING

I recently finished writing and rewriting and writing again the essays for several scholarship applications. It is probably a good thing, but that was the most time and effort I have ever spent writing three pages of text. I went through several revisions of each essay, had the wonderful Fulbright advisers at George Mason read and reread the essays, and even went to the vastly underused (by me anyways) campus writing center.

Roughing it out

MAY 16. 2007 : DAY 14

My personal essay started out as being a little too personal, as in informal. At the writing center, I also realized that the opening paragraph was too negative. I wanted to show how as a child I deeply disliked school. In first and second grades, in order to avoid going to school I would often hide in the backyard or somewhere in the house, and generally make a big stink every morning. One time my mom drove me to school (two blocks away) and when we got there I jumped out of the car and ran off into the neighborhood for an hour or so. The rest of elementary school through high school was better; I did not put up as much of a stink, but I still did not like school. I was convinced that I would never have anything to do with school again once I graduated from high school. That’s how my essay started out, a general idea of what I wanted to write about. Like a big block of stone that I hacked away at.

Adding Detail

MAY 22. 2007: DAY 20

I wanted to convey all of that in a couple of sentences, all to point to the irony that I am now pursuing the highest degree one can attain in school, and that I am still in school 16 years later, with another three years to go (I did have three years off in there, though). But the gal at the writing center was right. It was a bit too negative. Instead I focused on my strengths as an historian and my technical skills. This worked out much better, since this is one of the major focuses of the dissertation. Through this constant revision and insight from others my project started to take shape.

Finishing
FINISHED AND ON ITS PLACE

One of the other really neat things about spending so much effort on an essay (especially one about my dissertation research) is that I was really able to focus my arguments and tighten up my thoughts on what I hope to accomplish. Through this process of constant revision I realized three things that I wanted to focus on in my dissertation: the story of the underground dispersal projects; how the projects are memorialized or not, and what that says about Vergangenheitsbewältigung; and an argument for the change in what is considered scholarship in the historical profession. Going through the constant revisions has changed my focus in some small ways from my original proposal in the dissertation prospectus, but that is to be expected. I feel that I now have a much more polished and obtainable goal.

All images courtesy of Akbar Simonse, who photographed Mark Rietmeijer sculpture. http://www.flickr.com/photos/simeon_barkas/sets/72157600224554402/

Digging in to the dissertation

Pun intended, of course.

I found a really cool piece of software that will, I believe, be very helpful in writing the dissertation. It’s a Mac application called Scrivener. I found it while reading up on an influential digital historian’s blog, William Turkel. I like it because it organizes the writing process in the way I already think about it. I can write, or rearrange bits of text as if they were note cards, and so much more… I’ll let a few screen shots speak for themselves:

 

As you can see, I’ve been working on my outlines for the first two chapters. I was worried about integration with Zotero, but found this tip to be helpful. It’s a bit of a process, but sure beats doing all citations by hand.

Funding Update

Also, for an update, I have now applied to two big fellowships, USHMM and the GHI, with one more to go at the National Archives. I should hear back about the USHMM this month.

After that, it’s the big two, the Fulbright and the DAAD.

Sources Update

I have most of the documents scanned from USHMM. There are still a bunch of microfilms I should get digitized from the National Archives (or the originals from the German Archives). Now I just need to start going through them and translating and organizing. I’ll have a post on that later.

Detail of A4 at Hadmersleben

Above is a teaser of one of the documents. This detail shows the location of the proposed tunnels in relation to the town of Hadmersleben, in Germany. The different areas of the tunnel are labeled.