Research Musings: Webs

I had the kind of day where lots of dots started to connect. This was both a good and a bad thing. It’s great in the sense that I’m finally starting to see points of potential synthesis scattered among all my raw data; it’s terrible in the sense that there are suddenly a gazillion new things to research.

For example, I posted last week about significance in absence, or meaning being created by virtue of something that is not there rather than by virtue of something that is. I applied this in my post to the process and results of cutting text for performance. It occurred to me this morning, however, that this could also be applied to performances that never happened at all.

The Changeling, as far as I can tell, disappeared from stages during the nineteenth century. While keeping in mind Tracy Davis’ caveat that ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to suggest that there is something significant about the long period during which The Changeling was absent from professional stages, especially because it was not at all absent from literary studies. This is something I’m just starting to explore, so there’s not much more to say about it at the moment.



On a separate note, I’ve been learning a lot about my own personal research and learning styles in the last week. I’ve learned that I definitely prefer hand-writing my notes to typing them, which I’m very aware may result in a lot of arthritis later on. I’ve learned that I like to think in terms of webs and pictures rather than in terms of lines or language. Kate, my supervisor, tells me that the difference between research or ideas and writing is that ideas can function in terms of webs whereas writing needs to be linear. I’ve learned that I love researching and creating these webs, but I need writing in order to make sense of my ideas.

As I said to my mother today, I am now in week 2 of 132. I’d love to have more weeks in which to write this thing, and I’d love the luxury of seven or eight years of funded research. I’m hoping, however, that these three short years I spend working on this project will lead to more projects–otherwise, why bother?–and I really like the idea that I won’t peak with this dissertation. Maybe this is the young, naive optimist in me coming out, but I think it’s okay that my PhD will not be my life’s work, that it won’t be the piece of research that defines me twenty years from now. I hope that there is still work to be done in my field and that people still care to read that work in twenty years, but it’s kind of liberating to think that I’m not bound by the webs I’m weaving now. I’d like to be able to weave many more webs, in new places and with interesting new shapes.

And I cannot believe I’ve been comparing myself to a spider. Gross.


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