This afternoon’s job is to re-read a couple of articles by Ethan Shagan, because I suddenly realised that I have my 1549 rebels all mixed up together in my chapter and I don’t know which ones are which.  This opening up of the ground under my commonwealth chapter’s feet occurred yesterday afternoon and left me feeling rather grumpy, as I’m not sure I’ll be able to get it all sorted out before I need to submit my the chapter to my panel later next week.

On a brighter note, this week saw me getting stuck into reading about early modern news networks.  All very interesting.  What has been astounding all week is that most things I read at the moment are generating ideas not just for the chapter that I’m working on (be that the commonwealth or the final chapter on news) but for some of the earlier ones too.  This leaves me itching to go back and look at the other chapters again, but if I were to do that I’d be hopelessly distracted from the task in hand so I’m having to be very careful.  I have a notebook for each chapter, so I write my ideas and thoughts in them, but I also have a diagram of the thesis pinned to my study wall so I put little post-it notes on it to remind me of what needs doing to each chapter when I come to re-write it.  I must say it feels rather strange to be only one chapter away from a first, very rough, complete draft.  There have been several moments along the way when I thought I wouldn’t get this far, let alone to submission!  Apart from reading, I’ve spent a lot of time going through State Papers and re-writing bits of my commonwealth chapter yet again.  It was nice to get started on writing the news chapter, though, because the commonwealth chapter has been bogging me down.

I went into Manchester earlier this week to raid the library, then I met up with Sarah Fox (www.thehistoryfox.wordpress.com) for a brew and we had a lovely, long chat, something I haven’t done with any of my PhD colleagues at Manchester for a very long time.  Too long.  Nice to remember that I’m not alone in this mess we call research!

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I was warned on Wednesday that my luck will have to run out eventually.  That may not sound too much like good news, but the converse is, of course, that,  in order to provoke the comment, things must be going relatively well at the moment.  Work on the commonwealth chapter continues, with some quite major revisions to the opening of the chapter and smaller changes to individual sentences.  It’s getting closer.  I still need to check a couple of references and make some alterations to one of the musical examples, but it’s certainly getting closer. (And about time too, I might add, considering that it’s taken the best part of six months!)

I spent almost all of yesterday just working on the footnotes, trying to get Endnote to play ball.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like Endnote.  I used to enjoy writing my footnotes by hand, but the way that Endnote does it for me is, usually, enormously labour saving.   But for some reason, yesterday, it got its knickers in an almightly twist and started putting in references to whatever manuscript it felt like.  It wasn’t a problem with the books, or the journal articles, or the webpages: just the manuscripts.  Since the chapter is  based around manuscript collections, it caused a bit of a problem.  I have no idea  what caused the glitch, but I ended up typing in the manuscript references  manually.

I’ve also started secondary reading for my concluding chapter on the news.   If anyone has any suggestions of things I should read on early modern news, I’d be very glad to hear of them.  The reading that I’ve done this week surprised me by giving me several ideas for  my first couple of chapters on ballad music.  In fact, I had to leap out of bed at 11 one night this week to write down an idea!  It’s the first time that that’s happened for a very long time, so I think I can safely say that the thesis is out of the doldrums and on the move again.

This afternoon I briefly revisited my chapter plan, taking into account some of the comments that my supervisors made when they looked at it last and writing an abstract for the commonwealth chapter now that it’s completed.  The rest of the afternoon I spent  transcribing documents in the State Papers.  For once, the handwriting is relatively easy to read.  Unfortunately, the digital scan of one page is so dark that it is illegible in places – I suppose a girl can’t have everything.

On Wednesday evening I went to the committee meeting for the Historical Association in Bolton.  A very productive meeting and plenty of things to work on in the coming months, not least of which is putting together the programme of lectures for next season.