Readers, revisions, and reflection

I promised in the last post (7 months ago, yes) that I had more to think about, and I did. I spent the rest of the summer revising what I had written about sexual power and the rape trial, then adding a section at the end dealing with Nangenutch’s subsequent escape from jail, and the fine New York officials levied against the Montauketts as a group. When they couldn’t pay, colonists pressured them to cede land instead, with the result that they lost additional territory as a consequence of one individual’s misdeeds. By August I’d sent it off to John Strong for another read, as well as Sharon Block, whose book on rape and sexual power in the 18th century I’d used extensively. They sent me additional feedback which really made me rethink the arguments I’d made, and my general approach, which of course meant extensive revisions/rewriting.

By February I’d rewritten to my satisfaction, but since this blog is for students, this is the key: it was draft #10 of this process (that doesn’t count however many iterations the conference paper version went through). Some were minor updates, in which I’d gone through and cleaned up language and taken out notes to myself and edited. Others were more extensive, including additional research, moving large sections around and revising them to play a new role in the progression of my argument, completely rewriting my introduction and conclusion and revising (to various extents) most of the sections of the paper to better fit a more developed argument.

We all have full schedules, and the firmness of our deadlines vary dramatically (you face late penalties and their effects on your grades; I just get panicky when my self-imposed deadlines don’t work and I use time that I need to devote to new projects), but in this instance, you can do as I say AND as I do: get started early so you can go through multiple versions and accommodate thoughtful critiques from your peers and instructors, revising/rewriting heavily as your thinking changes. The product will be better, and you’ll develop as a thinker and a historian.

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