After several revisions, my outline - yes, just the outline - is good enough to circulate. I suppose I should count this as a victory of sorts. Blackwood says, "This is really good ... ready to circulate immediately." So I sent it off to Descartes and Victoria.
Descartes responds that he has "no doubt" that my thesis "will be plenty smart." (Notice the future tense there.) That's the good news. The bad news is that on the other hand, he thinks pretty much everything I've said in my outline is slightly wrong. He questions the idea that scholars are still reluctant to accept novels as Romantic - "Is anyone really making that argument in earnest these days?" He thinks that my topic "is actually really well-timed," but he's concerned that I may have "misread the nature of the moment in which it's appearing."
Daunted would be an apt description of how I feel. Also really dumb, because I accidentally put "Scottish Renaissance" in my outline instead of "Scottish Enlightenment." When he pointed that out in his email, I couldn't help but notice that he used the exact same phrasing that I used when I commented on a student's Final that he probably meant the "Early Modern" period, rather than the "Modern" period, when he was writing about Queen Elizabeth I.
I passed Descartes' comments on to Blackwood, and he was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing. I don't really understand why. If Descartes' assessment of Romantic studies is correct, then I have a lot of information, but no argument. I see that as a problem.
Can't wait to see what Victoria has to say.