Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I finally got around to looking at the written comments my committee gave on my thesis.

Blackwood's comments were mostly editing marks. He noted that I overuse colons and semi-colons (true) and wanted me to take out all the Oxford commas. Easily done.

Victoria's comments were a tad more complex, and some of them I just won't have time to address before Friday, which is the deadline to turn in the ETD version to the department. She also said my over-all conclusion needs work (true) and that the conclusion to the Helen section is underdeveloped as well. I hadn't noticed it before, but she's right. OK, that I can probably fix, or at least improve, before Friday.

I have no idea what Descartes's written comments were, because a) he assured me that they were substantive rather than grammatical, which means I probably don't have time to address them before the deadline, and b) frankly, I'm just scared to look at them. As I mentioned in a previous post, he told me before my defense that there was no question about whether I would pass; however, he made it clear at the defense that while the thesis was adequate for an MA, it would need significant revision before it was ready to "see the light of day," as he put it. In other words, don't even think about submitting this thing to a journal or using it as a writing sample for a PhD application in its current form. Well. I appreciate his candor, but I'm not particularly anxious to read his comments.

One thing that both Blackwood and Victoria had issues with was my comment that in Helen, Edgeworth is "still worrying at the same themes that are found in her other tales." Blackwood suggested "worrying over," while Victoria simply circled the phrase and put a question mark over it. OK, it's a bit fanciful and perhaps not flattering to Edgeworth, but the image I meant to invoke was that of a dog gnawing an old bone. I'm not making it up -- it's in the OED: "worry, v. Definition 3.d. intr. To pull or tear at (an object) with the teeth." The example: "There was Floss, worrying at the parcel, which had only thin paper wrapped round it." Granted, the example is from 1882, which means that the usage is by now archaic if not obsolete, but I am writing about someone who died 160 years ago. I'm still debating whether to take it out.

I'm also now recalling the questions that I could have answered better at my defense. Not that it matters; I passed, without qualifications even. But still ... "Was Edgeworth aware of the Romantic movement?" I said something about her use of the word "romantic" in Helen, but a much better answer would have been "She must have been, since she was very well-read, and also acquainted with some of the key figures associated with Romanticism, like Wordsworth and Coleridge." You'd think that for once I could just be satisfied with my accomplishment, instead of nit-picking something that I can't change.


prism said...

breathe. just breathe.

Octavia said...

Breathing. :)

Victory said...

I got the dog image right away with your "worrying" comment.

Don't we all wish we could live in hindsight. You did great. I love you.

Pamela said...

I, too, pictured a dog worrying a bone or something similar. Maybe they were just reading it a little too fast to realize, "Oh, *that* version of worry."

Also, I still believe in the Oxford comma.

Octavia said...

@ Pamela: I was actually under the impression that MLA wanted me to use the Oxford comma. Maybe I was thinking of APA ...