Monday, September 19, 2011

Golden Perfection

I've written before about how I generally send off half-baked scholarly articles, get back deservedly scathing reviewers' comments, and then set about to make the articles into real publishable pieces by adding in all the scholarship that should have been there before but wasn't. I'm good at going from half-baked to baked. I actually think my method is a pretty good one. It definitely produces more publications than the method of holding on to something forever trying to perfect it on my own. Baking is a collaborative enterprise.

I'm now working on a project where I'm taking an already baked article to the state of golden baked perfection. I have comments from one brilliant reviewer on my essay, "Redemption through the Rural: The Teen Novels of Rosamond Du Jardin." In the essay I show how Du Jardin uses the rural as a site of virtue, essentially "sentencing" selfish, shallow Pam, who is used to dating "smooth" guys with country club memberships, to marry a FARMER as part of her moral rehabilitation. This paper was not half-baked. I had already cited tons of books on American culture in the 1950s, on Midwestern literature, on pastoralism, on teen fiction. But this reviewer wanted even more.

So now I've found a 1960 master's thesis on Rosamond Du Jardin from Florida State University that quotes extensively from contemporary reviews of her novels as well as giving statistics as to her sales figures, and snippets from interviews and correspondence. The thesis itself is something to behold: typed on an actual typewriter! on that bond paper we were supposed to use for fancy projects! I showed it to some students here, and they were stunned by this blast from the past: "But what would you do if you were typing along and made a mistake?" Well might they ask!

I also ordered from E-Bay a copy of the December 1958 issue of the Reader's Digest that contains an article "The Danger of Being Too Well Adjusted," which appears thinly disguised in Double Wedding as Mike Bradley's school-paper editorial, "The Well Adjusted Generation."

I am digging. I am delving. This is going to be the best-baked paper ever.

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