The deadline to apply for August graduation was last Friday. Yeah, that didn't happen. I sort of went back and forth talking to Blackwood and Descartes for a couple of weeks, and in the meantime I didn't get anything written.
The problem is that when I talked to Descartes, he insisted that my argument was completely passé, and would be even more so in another five years when I want to apply for a PhD and use my thesis as a writing sample. In addition to being very smart, Descartes is, in his field, kind of like that kid in your high school who was always wearing the hot new trendy thing a couple of months before everyone else. This means that if anyone in my department is likely to know what's hot in Romanticism, it's René. On the other hand, he also tends to think stuff is no longer current long before everyone else is finished talking about it. The phrase "so five minutes ago" is, in his lexicon, not hyperbolic.
Blackwood and Descartes are good friends outside of work, and both are very professional, but they are very different kinds of scholars. And Blackwood is, after all, my chair. So I went back and talked to Blackwood again. "Descartes says my argument is completely irrelevant, because no one is having that conversation any more." Blackwood responded bluntly, "He's wrong." Maybe I should just have the two of them meet with each other, and get back to me when they get it figured out.
Anyway, Blackwood reassured me that I did not need to rethink my whole argument; rather, I need to keep drafting, and make changes if necessary as I go along. If Blackwood suspects that I've been using this situation as an excuse to avoid drafting another chapter, he's right. If he further suspects that I'm avoiding drafting because the task seems to large, and I'm afraid of failure ... no, he'd have to be psychic to have figured that out.
One thing that came out of my conversation with Descartes, however, was a realization that I really do need to be more aware of what current scholars are saying about my topic. I've looked for recent journal articles about Edgeworth and Sensibility - there aren't any. I've looked for books about Edgeworth and Sensibility - nope. What I haven't done, however, is look through current Romanticism journals to see what kinds of things scholars are saying in general about Edgeworth, and Sensibility, and the novels I'm writing about. Rookie mistake. Blackwood gave me a list of journals to look at, and strongly suggested that I might want to give him another chapter in the next week.
At this point we both know I'm not graduating in August, but we also both know that there's no reason to drag this out into next Fall semester. Having missed the August deadline, I won't be able to graduate until December, but neither of us wants to be repeating this conversation in October, so he's approaching it from the perspective of "there's really not a deadline in August, but let's pretend there is." OK. Let's pretend.