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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Thesis Problem
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0052  Wednesday, 10 January 2001

[1]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Jan 2001 12:48:30 -0500
        Subj:   Thesis Problem

[2]     From:   Moira Russell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Jan 2001 19:05:11 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0044

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Jan 2001 05:46:57 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 12.0044 Thesis Problem


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <
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Date:           Tuesday, 9 Jan 2001 12:48:30 -0500
Subject:        Thesis Problem

It is probable that the German article covers the material in a
different way, in a different context-no two of us think alike.  It's
best for her to get a good translation of the piece, if she can, and
refer to it as part of her research-make sure she finds a way to
resituate her own work so that her own original ideas are given more
prominence.  It's probably not as dire as it sounds, and may only
require a bit more effort in critical thinking, which is always a good
thing-especially if it's early in the writing process.

As I prepare for my own dissertation I've already found one instance of
similar work being done in my field (Byzantine religious drama), but
after translating the piece have found a great deal of difference in
approaches, so that my own work isn't threatened in any way.

Don't Panic, as Douglas Adams would say.

Andrew White
University of Maryland, College Park
(studying for comps, hence largely incommunicado)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Moira Russell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 09 Jan 2001 19:05:11 -0700
Subject: 12.0044 Thesis Problem
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0044 Thesis Problem

I had a similar problem, although of much less importance, while working
on a paper about P.D. James in graduate school.  I came up with, all on
my own, a point about the relationship between two characters I wanted
to make a central point of the paper.  I then went off to do some
critical reading, and discovered about three or four other writers had
made the same point in some recent articles.  After talking with my
professor, I made the point, without footnoting it as someone else's,
but was careful to cite the articles.  Judy may want to go to her
professors/advisors and explain that she found some work which
independently made the same point as her first chapter.  It also may
depend on how similar the article and her first chapter are.  Perhaps
she could get an extension on rewriting the first chapter, if it is
really necessary.  But professors usually aren't at all unfamiliar with
such situations.

Moira Russell
Seattle, WA

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Jan 2001 05:46:57 -0500
Subject: Thesis Problem
Comment:        SHK 12.0044 Thesis Problem

'My friend Judy has a dilemma.  The first chapter of her MA thesis is
due soon.  While working on it, she discovered an article, in German,
that basically covers what she planned to cover in her first chapter.'

Dear Mike Jensen,

Judy should certainly not read the article. That would only encourage
its author and might even incite further effusions.  Breezy dismissal is
the answer, a stratagem favoured in similar circumstances by Coleridge.
Beyond that, perhaps your 'friend' has a more deeply seated sense of
personal unworthiness that needs to be confronted. What pressures have
impelled 'her' to speak with your voice?  Clamant urgings concerning the
level of discourse are often a symptom in such cases.

T. Hawkes
 

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