Hidden meanings

January 27th, 2009

Chapter Four came back surprisingly quickly, since it sucked… Well, to be fair, the prose itself wasn’t all that bad, but it needs a good sit-down and comb-through before it’ll be up to snuff. The comments I got back on the first three pages of it (all my advisor would read, at first) smarted. I fully admit I have trouble taking criticism well when not expecting it. However, the comments were quite helpful; I’ll fully admit this, too. Another professor and I were talking about it, and the problem I had was apparently a “conceptual” issue: I didn’t know what the heck I was saying, when I was saying it, and where it all fit into the Big Picture. Chapter Four – the immigration history chapter – seems to be a sort of transition point in the larger narrative. Before it, I’ll have to talk about theories and concepts and abstracts, approached from a Canada-Quebec perspective in order to really draw out the distinctions that made Quebec national identity what it is today. After it, I’ll have to talk about the real people, their stories and lives and experience in Montreal during the last few decades. So with the immigration chapter I have to transition both a prose style (dry and boring technical stuff, dates and “important people”, to exciting vibrant lives with statistics thrown around for good measure) and a geographical orientation (Canada-Quebec to Montreal). I had no idea this part was so crucial to the narrative.

Honestly, I wasn’t going to pick Chapter Four to write over the break; I wanted to do something else that I can’t remember – probably the earlier sections so I could just get them over with. But I’m glad I did. Combing through all of my notes, jotting down some new ones, and getting a couple of “aha” moments helped me place the material into their appropriate chapters. It’s still shaky, but I think I have a better idea of when I’m going to reveal certain things in the narrative to make it interesting and follow-able.  And having done that, the Big Picture is more clear than before.  It seems that all the chapter really needs (aside from gap-filling) is re-organization.

There are two ways I can re-work the immigration chapter to make it flow/fit better.  (The first one is my advisor’s idea; the second is mine.)  1: Integrate the material that would go into this chapter into Chapter Two, where I explore the Quebec national identity and the conflicts that arise from nationalism.  Because immigration was part of the way the government of Quebec modernized and eventually “French-i-fied” the province, it makes sense that I could attach it to the end that chapter.  It would also provide a way for me to transition to a discussion of Haitian national identity.  Something like “Though the government saw immigrants as part of the improvement process, they might not have jumped on board as quickly as the nationalists would have liked.  Haitians, for example, had their own national history and identity.” The chapter on Haitian national identity would then transition into exploring Haitians’ experience in Montreal…  2: Split the immigration chapter into two sections, rather than disperse it.  The first half would talk about immigration policy and history from the dry-boring part, keeping the Quebec-Canada orientation.  The second half would transition to a Montreal orientation and develop the more personal tone, where I would talk about different immigrant experiences and end with the Haitian’s patterns of migration to Quebec.  This would transition well to the next chapters, which discuss the experience of Haitians in Montreal using culture and political participation as major examples to illustrate my points about their embeddedness in Quebec society.

This week, then, I really have to work on two things.  The first, of course, being the revision of this chapter.  The second is getting my sense of history (Quebec identity, Haitian identity) settled, and notes wrapped up to the best of my ability.  I won’t go so far as to say I’m ‘down to the wire’, but I certainly cannot dally about this semester.  The thesis really is due in a few months, whether or not I’m ready.  Five more chapters to go …

Hi ho, hi ho…

January 23rd, 2009

it’s off to work we go.

Snow White was one of my favourite Disney movies as a kid.

About the thesis, I didn’t quite match the goals I’d set for myself last week. Chapter Four did get written and cited, although there are a few blanks here and there still. It’s been sent to its doom to the editor after being read by an unsuspecting bystander for clarity and cohesion. This I am very proud of, since it means “two down, five to go” for my thesis overall.

The book Written in Blood did not get read, although by now I’ve started picking it back up. Last Saturday, I was interrupted at work by my half-boss who likes to chat and comment on my life choices, as well as watch television on the internet while attempting to finish her own projects. That was a big distraction – although it meant I got Chinese food for lunch instead of WaWa. And then I realized that I had two (thesis-related) books due this week, and hadn’t read one of them. Lucky for me it was astonishingly helpful – way more important to read The Identity of Nations (Montserrat Guibernau) than the Haitian history. Aside from a better understanding of the theory background, I got a lot of good insight into the causes-and-effects of Quebec politics circa the late twentieth century. Hooray! That means I’m even closer to finishing both Chapter Two and Three (the “history of” chapters describing the development and expression of Quebec and Haitian national identity, respectively). Having turned in that book, I have got back to reading the Haitian history text and am stewing over the organization of each chapter slowly. [[Although, I wish I could have read the entire book, not just parts – the stuff about European identity, and the case-study of Austria would have been helpful to address a comparative aspect in the introduction. But I’m confident that in grad school (God willing I get there) Guibernau’s stuff will be a main course, or at least a hearty side dish, for my studies.]]

And yet another good thing to come of this week: The opening lecture to one of my classes was the history of the “state” as a political unit/form/whatever. The theory chapter is the “easy” section I am the most worried about for my paper, since I have to cover a lot of debateable material in a short amount of space: What is a state? What is a nation? What happens to the nation when foreigners/outsiders arrive? What happens to the immigrant when they arrive in a new state? What about Quebec, and why is Montreal so special? But after Clemens’ lecture, I’m able to see how I could organize the chapter chronologically and address each issue as it develops over time: the state, then the nation, then nationalism; then transnationalism, and right-wing-nutcases; then Montreal in Quebec.

I don’t know why I’m so excited about this semester. As I told the guy who drove me in on Wednesday, I feel more like a kindergartener than a college senior as I get into classes now. All the shyness I have tried so hard to get rid of came back with a vengeance this week – one of the reasons I couldn’t defend myself to the German professor who wouldn’t let me audit her class because I have never taken any German. (I should have told a white lie – elementary school counts…) Alas, I won’t be waking up at 7 every morning to go to a 9 o’clock lecture or 8:30 drill. Instead, I’ll lounge and learn Dutch, which, by the way, means I’ll be able to understand German. How ’bout them apples?

So the Plan: 1. Have Ch. 4 edited [Done, sort of.  She didn’t like it, so instead I get to revise it (again)]; 2. Begin revision of notes on the cultural insertion of Haitians in Montreal; 3. Organize notes and begin writing the “history of” chapters, Two and Three. Oh yeah, and 4. Course readings/assignments; 5. Work-work; and 6. some sort of life? Ah, the joys of being educated…

Finding motivation

January 16th, 2009

So I get to work tomorrow from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm – which, in this case, means I have a lot of free time alone to work on the thesis. (Yeah, I get paid to sit around “just in case”. I am quite grateful for that job.) The problem is that it’s cold, so I’m tired. And I’m bummed about having to go back to classes – I rather like playing in books all on my own, bouncing ideas off the literature I read and the people who can stand to listen to me talk about the subjects. The only thing classes are good for is they provide structure, which, in my case, brings increased productivity. Anyway, the point is I need to get motivated.

The plan for tomorrow’s freedom is to edit Chapter Four, the one on immigration to Quebec (Montreal) with a focus toward the end on Haitians. I wrote the whole thing already, but I need to go back and edit some points and put in ALL the footnotes and references. It sounds harder than it probably will be, since most of the ideas are floating in my brain and I made a list of sources to reference (if not all of them).

I also want to keep going through Haitian history. In the Big Book (Written in Blood) I’m up to the 1840s, but I’ve taken a break and gone to view some other articles. I’ve got to keep reading the Big Book, though, since it’s the most comprehensive one I’ve got and therefore provides a continuous narrative. I find that without continuity like that, I get lost when first trying to understand a “History of”. The book is helpful since most articles focus on either the Revolution or the modern period, with very little in the middle. It’s not surprising that this would happen. First, everyone (Europeans, Americans, Asians etc) ignored Haiti for the whole of the 1800s – so Haiti wouldn’t really be an ideal focal point in any Western narration. Second, Haitian history is a repetitive cycle of juntas, insurrections, revolutions and coups – picking the two most interesting or poignant parts (the beginning, and the ever-popular sixties/seventies) to focus on is not surprising. I hope that I’m just not using the right search keywords, because I think there could be a lot said for the nineteenth century in Haiti.

On a final note, I think I’ve done a lot more work than I thought, which means I have a lot less work to do than expected. I have a tendency to sketch and jot. Whenever I feel inspired to write, I will (if possible) – whether this gets me a few paragraphs or just a few ideas I want to remember to draw out. Still, I was surprised to go back through my working thesis document and find I’d written 45 pages. I only actually attempted/finished one chapter. But every chapter (except one) is pretty well thought out, if not fleshed out. The first two chapters are written sort of, because I did papers on similar subjects for coursework – all I’ll need to do is modify.

So, tomorrow: Chapter Four. And Chapter Three. If there’s time, think about Chapter Five.

Power cord woes

January 6th, 2009

So, just before Christmas, when I began writing my second chapter (actually, Chapter Four), the power cord to my old G4 Mac laptop died.  Not the computer, just the cord.  You’d think it’d be easy to fix, but about two weeks later the replacement I bought has not yet arrived from Hong Kong.  Grr.

In spite of the power cord woes, I’ve tried to keep up with my schedule for Winter Break work.  Chapter Four got written in a very rough format (since I didn’t have notes, only memories to go by) on someone else’s computer, thanks to a flash drive which I’ve managed to keep track of since I last lost it mid-semester.  And I’ve been doing my best to get through the large, daunting and heavy reading on the development of Haiti as its own nation.  The book I’m using – Written in Blood – will be the base for the chapter on the Haitian national identity, since it provides a continuous narrative of Haiti’s development since 1492.   There are other texts – mostly articles, and one book – that I will use to round out the chapter and support some of my arguments.  For instance, I can’t just say that Haitian identity is grounded in a confusion of cultural identities – French/European, African, native, and foremost Creole – without providing some sort of facts.  WiB shows the reader what a fine mess the young nation was in when, between 1791 and 1804, France, Spain, Britain and some slave groups were all fighting for control of the Western half of Hispaniola (aka Saint Domingue, Kiskeya, or Haiti).  But modern situations, like the class difference between light-skinned and dark-skinned Haitians or the language barriers between the masses (who speak Kreyol) and the elite (who speak French), reinforce the same class distinctions that distinguished the first Haitians who supported, say, the French from those who supported other factions.  Bringing in multiple sources will definitely improve the Chapter’s quality and believability.

I’d hoped to be working on the other major section of my thesis, Chapter Five on the cultural production of Haitian Montrealers, but a good portion of that work was done in Montreal.  The notes for the books I read and other comments I made are on my laptop hard drive.  And what I could be doing either requires me to go to Swem, which I’ve avoided since it’s a long walk in the cold wet weather for a girl trying not to get sicker, or is cultural stuff that takes place after 1995 – the key date, the last referendum on independence in Quebec.  So I’ll do more background stuff.  Even though the plan got changed, I can still make things work.  And if I get antsy to write things up, I will just start pulling out the old papers I wrote for an independent study and – with the wave of my magic wand – transform them into Chapter Two on the development of Quebec national identity/problems therein.  [[Sounds like a plan for later in the week…]]

Other than that, I’m trying to audit a German language class so I can jump ahead on grad school language requirements (and amuse myself), lining up job interviews so I can maybe stay afloat this semester, and enjoying the break.  Except the part where I have to do dishes all the time.   I’m not particularly looking forward to my last semester at WM (unless I can get into the German class which has about thirteen open slots).  So the longer this break lasts and the more I can accomplish without the hindrance of taking classes and writing papers, the better.

On a personal note, I was in a bookstore near my house today (the Book Exchange on Jamestown Rd, next to Fresh Market) and spotted a James Michener book I might like to read, Caribbean.  As I’ve been going through WiB I was disappointed at how much it seemed to miss.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic textbook for someone taking a Haitian history course, a good refresher (if long) for someone like me, and it aligns quite well with the conventions of the field of Haitian/Caribbean history.  The authors clearly state that their starting point was picked because of the lack of records due to sanctioned burning of official documents over the years.  But I think Michener’s book could at least satisfy my urge to know more about Haiti as it was before European involvement; most of the Caribbean histories are written as if European discovery was the only thing that made the islands worth talking about.  *shrug*  That’s my two cents for the day, I guess.

It’s creepy to think that at the end of this semester, I will have graduated with two Bachelor degrees and will need to prepare a manuscript to send to publishers who requested copies of my finished thesis…  Just creepy.

End of the road, for now

December 3rd, 2008

Yesterday (Tuesday) was an interesting experience for me.  I presented my work (in)formally at the opening of the new GIS Centre to be housed in Swem, alongside a slew of other (science-based) projects.  My humanities poster was definitely the black sheep of the crowd, but I still enjoyed to some extent the few people who wandered over and asked questions about my work.  I can explain it to others, which is a sign of how well I (may) have mastered my own material.  Score one for Liz.

Today, through some emails with my advisor, I managed to work out a reasonable schedule for the Winter break.  I’ll end up writing one more chapter (so 2 down of 7) and stretching the outline for another through note-taking and reviewing.  This latter chapter is the other main chapter of my thesis, focusing on cultural expressions and integration of Haitians over the years.  In spite of how long it took me to get a good copy of the politics chapter, I feel that I have learned well from all the mistakes I made to considerably reduce the writing time of this other one.  (The other five chapters should be pretty easy to hash out, since they’re largely background stuff.)  I’m happy that I can (finally) develop reasonable timelines for myself; it’s something I’ve not come to easily over the years.  With the family interruptions (in a good way), I should be able to relax and still make headway on the thesis.  I’m feeling really good about this for the moment.  It’s nice to end on a positive note.


November 29th, 2008

I realized today, as I submitted my first grad school application to the University of Michigan, that I do not question my intelligence in class or when writing “applications” (as a generic term).  But whenever I go beyond doing something I find repetitive – since I have been in school for sixteen years now, including grade school (= 13, not 12; don’t forget kindergarten); and I have worked at a scholarship/research office for two, editing people’s essays and apps – I get nervous to an absurd degree.  Hence when talking with my fiance’s dad (an esteemed marketing researcher/university prof) I was filled with doubt about getting into grad school, and questioned the value of my research.  But when I sent off the application today, all I could think of was, “Well, bugger, that’s sixty bucks I’m out for a while…”  My sanity must be questionable.

Thanksgiving was a welcome break.  I excused myself from the two classes that were still “on” for Monday and Tuesday, since I haven’t used the allowed absences, and buried myself in work.  The thesis got edited, the presentation for next Tuesday’s GIS Center launch (see the ENSP website; it’s free!) was finished – with no changes, I might add -, I polished the essays for grad apps, and I have the rest of my research in order, including one of two ILL books that got in on Monday.  (The other ILL book came in after I’d picked up the first, and I forgot it.)  Then I left Wednesday morning and didn’t look back.  I brought a book to finish reading (for a different class) but played Skip-Bo and Hand-and-Foot (a “granny” game – a type of canasta) instead.  Wonderful.

So, aside from editing out Chapter Six from my thesis, and then gathering materials for the rest, I didn’t get much accomplished.  I’d wanted to do more this weekend, now that I’ve returned from the mountains, but can’t seem to get over the fact that this is vacation.

Up this week: 1) Finish the two ILL books/take notes, since they can’t be returned and apparently are due this Friday (?!?  less than two weeks for checkout – what’s up with that?); 2) get through classes/start final papers; 3) GIS presentation on Tuesday; 4) get edits from whoever’s thesis back in a reasonable time; and 5) eat cookies.

Grad apps are death

November 19th, 2008

My first final deadline for graduate school applications is the 1st of December – and my thesis chapter is not finished. Oops. After revising outlines and reviewing notes, I think I’ve managed to destroy several sections of the first copy. I have a much clearer idea of how I’m arguing certain points, especially when it comes to using statistical analyses, which should help make the paper sound more intelligent. Sifting through all the sources, rewriting notes and staring into space while pondering what I’ve just read are all critical to my “process” for writing this giant paper. Unlike Bones, I actually like time to sit and wonder about these subjective things. (Maybe if I were a real scientist, I would have a quicker reaction time to analysing data.) As far as my style edits went, I can’t tell if the prose has become more interesting. The sections will be reviewed by my advisor, and I’m sure she’ll leave some comments about it.

I’m resentful of graduate school applications at the moment, because they are rushing me. And they cost so much. Sheesh.

By the way, there are spies everywhere, many of them with red hair…

I can’t say I’ve made much progress on anything other than editing the draft. I need to delve deeper into the various databases and search engines to see if I can find a nice book or two that will help illustrate the general immigration trends in Quebec from the early twentieth century to present. I need to be able to contextualize Haitian immigration and talk about why certain immigration policies or certain reactions would have been important in the history of immigrant relations there. However, no-one seems to have written a general immigration history about Quebec, and the Canadian ones seem geared toward women, youth/second-gen, or policy matters rather than just description. It feels like the more I write, the more sources and facts I want to check up. The researching never stops! I wish time could stop so I would be able to get through all the articles and books I need to read…

Short and sweet this week: 1) Revise chapter for grad apps [[Sent for edits…  We’ll see how that goes.]] ; 2) Find some immigration books/chapters/articles [[Check! Now to read them…]]; and 3) keep on trucking. Hopefully I will get comments back for the chapter, and otherwise won’t soil the beauty of a Real Vacation (to grandmother’s house we go…)

Highs and lows

November 12th, 2008

This week’s been rather topsy-turvy. I’ve reached the Panic Stage in my senior year which entails much worrying about life after graduation. All my future plans rest on being accepted to one specific PhD program way out in Vancouver, with the minor hope of being awarded an NSF Graduate Fellowship. I have doubts, however, that I’ll be accepted to UBC, and struggle to keep my chin up. I’ve given up on believing I can win an NSF fellowship based on what responses I’ve had from other scholarship programs (zilch). But what I really need to think about is a Plan B: work. I’m not afraid of a real job, I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to find one that will give me a living wage. But I can’t let fear weigh me down. So, as I sit on the couch waiting for a (splurge) pot-roast to cook up, I am going to reflect on what I’ve done this week right and wrong.

First, I did manage pretty well on outlining. In spite of my distaste for the task I gave myself, it worked out. I stole the thesis outline from last week’s class and stretched out the sections. I also typed up a chronology putting Quebec politics and immigration policy, and Haitian politics and immigration all mixed together. I have two little books – well, one’s actually small; the other’s only for excerpts – to skim through to understand what other kinds of immigrants came when. I know that white Europeans, especially Italians and Jews (Ashkenazie first until the Sephardim came in the latter half of the 20th c.), were the bulk of early in-migration; then came West Indians and Africans; and then came Asians and Arabs. What I need is a citation and someone to tell me exactly which order and in what numbers this happened. It’s difficult to find census data on the migration patterns for all of the 1900s listed by country of origin.

I was presented the opportunity last week to show my maps and research at a little on-campus conference in honour of the GIS Centre’s opening in Swem. There was a major snafu on Monday when I thought I’d lost my flash drive. It contains all of my data and maps, and I hadn’t backed it up (stupidly). I spent a good part of the day bothering the nice secretaries of the Morton Departments to see if someone had dropped it off. No luck. But, for no reason really, it was suggested I look in Jones with the IT department. Success! So, I’ve re-done my maps to be more uniform and thrown together a brief powerpoint that can get made into a poster. Next week, I’ll have to talk to Stu again to a) see what he wants me to do with the “residuals” and see which ones he wants to use; and b) talk about the ppt that I’ve worked up. For the residuals, I know that what we want to show is the standard error between a predicted value and the actual value for correlations between the strength of a “no” vote in 1995 and the proportion of the population that is immigrant, or English-speaking, or the average per capita income. There are just too many choices from SPSS for a novice to make a sure choice.

This presentation, now that I have my data again, took a little edge off the (expected) rejection from the ASEN conference I’d applied to. It’s a pretty popular thing; I’m an undergraduate. There was no chance.

What else? What else? Well, I missed a meeting with my advisor today because I forgot to confirm it earlier. (Time was a strange beast in my world over the weekend, thanks to Sudafed.) She headed out of state for a while, instead. I’m not too bothered by that for a couple reasons. Foremost, I was not in a good mindset to meet about the thesis today. But also, this gives me more time and leeway to work on the thesis as I like it. I’m doing the outline and the immigration chapter at her suggestion. However, what I need to do now is return to my political participation chapter so it can be relatively polished by the end of the month. I think I’d like to go through it with my notes and refreshed memory and be as ruthless as possible. It’s difficult to do that with your own work, though. With my revised outline I should be able to keep focus on what the chapter is supposed to argue, which should help.

I understand that I’ve jumped ahead of myself on this project. The (mistaken) deadline for a writing sample in early November drove me to pass all the normal conventions of good writing – making sure I knew what I was saying, above all. Lesson learned, and with pushing from my advisor I think I’ve managed to go back and amend things fairly well. It’s hard to balance the contradictions in what different articles and books assume are facts. However, as long as I can manage to remember that I’m writing as an historian (who happens to use some political science methodology), I think I can accommodate this. Another reason the outline is good (if annoying).

So, things on the plate this week (aside from pot roast): 1) skim the immigration books to fill out the story; 2) transcribe one or two more interviews; 3) begin tearing apart Chapter Six; and 4) see what Stu wants me to do. With patience, panic will pass – it just might take a while, since I have to start filling out the applications!


November 5th, 2008

I’m fairly satisfied with the organization of my chapter thus far, which is good since that is what I needed to work on last week. However, the chapter still has a long way to go in terms of prose (which is apparently lacking in style, in spite of my good writing ability) and focus. I’m getting ahead of myself in terms of the argument and the sub-arguments in my thesis. My advisor suggested today that I let the chapter sit for a week or so before trying to edit it again, and that I try to develop my arguments more clearly. Outlining, in other words.

Actually, I’m not so much a fan of outlines. When I use them they tend to make my prose rather dull and technical and choppy. I get too bogged down in trying to follow the format rather than letting words flow. That, and being forced to write notes as an elementary kid made me loathe the I.A.i.a. formality. But I understand the utility of the device, and have seen myself slowly progress in comprehension of my topic as I’ve had to make successive revisions of my thesis outline for various purposes and people. As much as I want to just write my heart out, I think I will force myself to make outlines for the moment.

The other day for a class we had to bring in an outline of our thesis to turn in. Initially, I had just stripped the last one I had done (in September) to its barest bones and changed a few titles of chapters around to fit what the thesis’ latest draft looked like. Yes, I got lazy. However, with two and a half hours between classes on Monday, I decided to think about what I was saying in each chapter and ending up rewriting the assignment before turning it in. Since I’ve been having problems keeping the overall argument and the sub-arguments clear, I forced myself to offer a tentative statement for each chapter/section. That’s progress, I think. Now that each section has an argument which relates back to the whole, I think I can go into each chapter and make even more specific arguments. This will help me process all the data swirling in my head and figure out where I’ll use certain sources so I can avoid repetition. So, I’m going to outline some more…urgh.

Aside from that, the thesis has been coming along well. Chapter six on political participation is developing slowly but surely, and I intend to have it mostly polished by the time I need to send off graduate school applications. (Joy.) Since I need to let it sit still for a moment, though, I’m moving on to two other chapters. Chapter four will talk about immigration to Quebec, specifically looking at Haitian patterns. It’s one of the many many sections in which I will bring the reader up to speed on Quebec’s history so s/he can actually understand what I’m talking about in the heart of the paper. My advisor wants me to work on that because, as she put it, the topics discussed in chapter six “beg the questions of immigration” in a comparative and specific context. Chapter five, which is what I want to work on, will discuss the cultural implications and contributions that Haitians have made to Montreal during their time. Basically, the chapter’s purpose is to understand what effect Haitians could have had on making Quebeckers more culturally aware of their ever-diversifying population. Also, its purpose is to understand what effect cultural insertion could have had on making Haitians more politically and culturally aware of their new social environment.

So, even though I don’t like outlines, the to-do list this week is: 1) outline Chapter four to the best of my ability; [[Done; now I just need to fill in gaps.]] 2) begin to wade through cultural output by Haitians in Montreal; and 3) review primary sources and secondary sources on political participation [[I got back into the research and quickly remembered who spoke about what.  Lovely feeling.]] and obstacles to integration. Fun times.

It’s alive!

October 29th, 2008

That’s The Word from Stephen Colbert.

Moving on, I got back comments from one of the people who agreed to read my thesis chapter. Organization problems are rampant, but should be easy to fix. The trouble I had with this section was that I need to make it accessible to a political science audience as well as a history audience, neither of whom know much about Quebec politics. I have a lot to say in this part, but need to frame and state the argument more clearly. Before, it was something like this: “This chapter describes the breadth and depth of Haitian political participation in Montreal, and argues that Haitians are just as ambivalent about separation as the rest of Quebec.” Maybe it sounds straight-foward to you, but there are problems. [[Actually, the biggest problem was that I didn’t come out and give a clear thesis for the chapter.  I guess I was too excited, and jumped into the data right off the bat.]]  First, I’m trying to say three things at once (Haitians participate, Haitians don’t participate just by voting, and Haitians don’t vote for just one party) and make it sound like I’m only saying one (Haitians = Quebeckers in terms of voting). At least, this is what I think I was told. So…. I need to think that out.

Another organization problem I had was the order in which I revealed information. I know all the stuff I write, and I understand it, but have to provide it in an order that makes sense to the reader and allows him to absorb the context and contents of the period easily. Apparently that’s something I didn’t do/think of. Before, it was something like this:

(1, No intro)–(2, Model of Haitian political participation based on another researcher’s work)–(3, Description of what Haitians are involved in, politically)–(4, Background of 1994 general election)–(5, Quebec response in 1995)–(6, Haitian patterns, actually lack thereof)–(7, Exploration of why Haitians voted the way they did)–(8, Conclusion).

The new organization will need to develop #1, put less emphasis on #2, and move #3 nearer to #7 and #8. I hope that makes some sense.

Also, I guess I ended up writing too poli-sci-ish than I thought. I should have expected it, but one of the first comments I got was that I seemed to use a model to frame my response – apparently historians don’t do that ever, or rarely; they just share their findings and interpretations. This situation in the field of history somewhat bothers me. Mostly it’s because I don’t like how a lot of history stuff gets organized (hate to say it), because I feel like the whole “opening vignette, brief outline of chapter, then details” can feel a little wishy-washy sometimes, or at least confusing to understand where the argument lies. (Granted, I’m not such a winner at making things obvious, but I’m working on that.) It can feel that historians don’t respond directly to each other; at least in my research it seems that way. But I also don’t like how political science stuff is so dry and boring; it cuts to the chase and leaves the reader without any form of entertainment, just facts. And they are constantly just arguing about their **!#* models and trying to prove each other wrong. Hopefully I can bridge the two styles, since I am inclined to write more directly than historians and less directly than political scientists.

Passive voice. ‘Nuf said.

In other news, I did a really dorky and precocious thing the other day: I submitted my thesis as a proposal for the ASEN (Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism) conference next spring. I know I won’t get it, because I had to write on the submission form that I’m an undergraduate with no publications or degrees (yet). However, it made me happy to be so silly. And at least I got the practice. I might apply to one or two other conferences in the hope that I can present at one next spring. However, the ASEN one is the one I want to go to. Not because it’s in the middle of the week and in London (!!), but because it’s held at the London School of Economics and Political Science, which is the biggest name for nationalism studies – the professors, the journal, and all the rest – at present. I considered applying there for graduate school, but I’m a wussy-pants and didn’t. [[I’m also confused at which program to apply to…]]  “I still have time,” I think to myself on occassion.  But that’s just me being hopeful and starry-eyed.

So, in conclusion, go vote; if I can write a paper, you can too; and apply for conferences just because.

And on my To-do list: 1) Edit Chapter 6 by next Monday in time for meeting with Cindy on Wednesday; 2) Submit application to NSF Grad Fellowship; 3) Perhaps get back responses from other two editors; and 4) Keep surviving.