Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

The Book

May 29, 2014

Although I may never find a tenure track job, it looks like at least I’m going to be a published author. Princeton University Press will publish my book, Building the Land of Dreams: The American Transformation of New Orleans, in tPU Presshe fall of 2015. The reader’s reports are back, and were very positive; my revisions should be complete by this fall, and actually the fact that I’m teaching a slightly reduced schedule should actually help with this a bit.

In New York in July I will meet Brigitta Van Rheinberg, who will be my editor, and whose smart comments about the manuscript really sealed the deal for Princeton. The other top contender was LSU Press, which would have been great too, and a natural fit for the book in many ways; but Brigitta’s enthusiasm and understanding really made the difference.

I am so psyched. This is a good thing!


Moving Forward; Weekly Log 9/20 to 9/25

September 23, 2010

For the first time in two weeks, I’m not doing any writing today. I’m happy to say that yesterday I finished a draft of Chapter 1. It is by no means polished; it needs a bunch of footnotes added; and it needs a few fairly significant interpretive paragraphs plugged in here and there (which there is room for, since it stands now at just over 8,000 words). But still, it’s a finished chapter draft.

Today and tomorrow I’m going to dedicate to reading and notes for the 1st half of Chapter 2, which will present an overview of 1803 New Orleans (or as I call it, New Orleans in the Age of Laussat). I’m also going to take a little time to work up a draft outline for the entire dissertation, even though it will necessarily get rather vague as it goes on; it will still help me as I move forward to have some sort of overall skeletal structure in my mind, subject to change and many revisions, of course.

Next week (a four-day week, since we are moving into our new house on Friday the 1st) I will write the 1st half of chapter 2, and the following week I may do one day for notes and reading, then do the narrative of Laussat’s ups and downs overt the summer of 1803 the rest of that week (so, by Friday October 8th). The following week I’ll do Laussat’s brief reign in December 1803, the transfer of power to the Americans, and the conclusion to Chapter 2 (so really, the overview of the city is one-third, the Laussat narrative is one-third, and the transfer and conclusion is one-third). I will have a draft Chapter 2 by October 15th.

Then, I will polish up Chapters 1 and 2 together. This will include: printing and reading the chapters over, a couple times; polishing and tweaking all prose; checking footnotes and adding missing or incomplete ones; and adding in the interpretive paragraphs that are still missing. This should only take a couple days; then I will send the chapters to Sean, Peter, and Mark, my only 3 readers for the present. The rest of that week I will do notes and review my research to start Chapters 3, 4, and 5, which I will begin October 25th, and have finished by Thanksgiving or the week after.

If I manage that, I may give myself a week off, dedicated to — music? Other kinds of reading? Time playing with kids? All of the above? — and then start fresh on Chapter 6, which should deal with 1806, the Burr Conspiracy, and the rapprochement and resolution of the “early crisis” of 1804-1805.

I had lunch with Peter yesterday and explained I wouldn’t give him anything to read until I had a decent Chapter 1 and 2, and he was fine with that. I’ve explained the same thing to Mark already, and should send Sean a progress email soon, as well.

Finally, happy birthday to little Lo who turns 4 today!

Pre-Writing Tasks

July 28, 2010

This is a list of things, either mundane or substantial, that I need to take care of before starting on my dissertation writing proper–hopefully, in the two weeks following our move-in in Princeton August 13th, or at least by the end of August.

  • Renew the sticker on my TigerCard
  • Take out the main library books that I need–above all the TPUS 9 and the CLB I-VI
  • Get a “meat locker”–ask Elizabeth Bennet how
  • Meet with Peter Silver, possibly Sean as well
  • Go through all my text notes, and handwritten notes, and import them into either Evernote or Filemaker
  • Go through my Filemaker database and print binders organized chronologically
  • Start doing a couple afternoons each week with the New Orleans newspapers on microfilm available at Firestone
  • Create a working outline–consult with my existing notes on this subject–along with a plan of what order to write chapters in
  • Install and set up Scrivener

What’s Next

August 24, 2009

Well, I may as well admit it: the things I need to do were outlined pretty well in this post back in early June, and most of them still remain to be done after the Summer of Hassles. As frustrating as this is, the transcriptions of Livingston notes are still the number one most pressing chore; I got some done over the summer, but plenty still remains. Tweaking the database, especially the category tags, should also happen as part of this process, as should actually reading over the database once it is all in chronological, not alphabetical order. After that, there will be the following series of projects:

  • Writing short Livingston-related pieces and paragraphs
  • Writing a finished piece on Americans in territorial New Orleans, as per my HNOC symposium gig
  • Writing a finished dissertation chapter (“Dreams”) on the aspirations of Americans coming to New Orleans
  • Compiling census data for my period into spreadsheet form
  • Compiling court case data for my period into spreadsheet form
  • Creating a “master” database in which smaller databases of notes can coexist — Livingston notes, plus Claiborne Letter Books, Gallatin papers, and more, plus what I eventually read in the CDV archive here, notarial stuff, etc
  • Secondary reading, and mini-reviews for this blog

None of this even gets me into actual archival research here in the Crescent City, which is actually the reason I’m here. After a week of catching up, and getting into a work routine, I’ll be ready to figure out a schedule for new research alongside all the other projects simmering on various burners.

Looking Ahead: June 2009

June 5, 2009

Well, I’ve finished with the Livingston papers, teaching duties are done and I have three mostly open weeks in Princeton remaining before we leave town. Moving-related chores will take up some of my time, as will health-related activities, but I think I should be able to accomplish at least one substantial “project” during this time. With that in mind, the major projects I have in mind for the near future are as follows:

  1. Transcribing all my handwritten Livingston notes into my database. This pertains to probably about 70% of the collection, since about two-thirds through my research I started entering notes and transcribing documents directly into Filemaker rather than by hand in pencil. The transcribing will not be a mindless task by any stretch, since as I transcribe I will be re-reading stuff I looked at early on, and re-considering it in light of things I have learned and read since then. I will also be arranging things chronologically that I could only read alphabetically (which is one of the major points of the database). In addition, I will be tweaking the actual design of may database as I go — adding new keywords, categories, and layouts as the data seems to call for.
  2. Also with regard to Livingston, I want to write down some of my major impressions and (tentative) conclusions while this research is still fresh in my mind. This will take the form of informal mini-essays, perhaps but not necessarily with a level of polish that would allow sections, at least, to be cut and pasted into the eventual dissertation. This is an appropriate time, for example, to write those biographical passages about EL, a summary description of the Batture controversy, and accounts of briefer episodes like: EL’s ouster from NYC in 1803 and exile to Louisiana; his role in the Burr/Wilkinson controversy; his career as a sugar planter and slaveowner/employer; and his part in the New Orleans campaign of 1814-15.
  3. A totally different type of project: compiling and arranging the quantitative data from the various censuses I have access to (the 1805 metro census of New Orleans, and the 1810 and 1820 federal censuses are the key ones). This requires transcribing some data that I can only find in manuscript form; it also requires turning some text files that are online into usable, manipulable Excel files. Finally, once I have the data massaged to my satisfaction, it involved actually studying the data. It may also become desirable to map the data in some way, either now or down the road. The questions I hope this information will speak to, of course, all have to do with the social and demographic transformations of Louisiana and New Orleans from 1800 to 1820; and this project should conclude with a good chunk of writing, accompanied by tables, detailing my findings. Whether that writing is a complete, self-contained article or chapter, or something less formal like a series of blog posts, is less crucial to me right now than simply getting the analysis part done.
  4. A fourth project is one I outlined to Sean in our last meeting, a couple months ago, and ended up putting on the back burner in favor of finishing my Livingston work. It will yield either a self-contained article or a usable dissertation chapter. The topic is American impressions of opportunities in Louisiana, around the time of the Louisiana Purchase. The opportunities are both personal (making one’s fortune, finding steady employment) and national (becoming a great continental power, ridding the continent of European colonizers) — and the source base will be printed sources, for the most part, newpapers and pamphlets most of which I can access online and read anywhere. I will also use some Livingston and Gallatin papers stuff (letters of intro, for example).
  5. Finally, secondary reading continues. I want to finish Shannon Lee Dawdy’s Building the Devil’s Empire and Gilbert Din’s The New Orleans Cabildo (both started and half-finished a while back). I want to skim, at least, Clare Brandt’s An American Aristocracy: the Livingstons, Emily Clark’s Masterless Mistresses, and Follett’s The Sugar Masters. I want to read in their entirety the two major edited volumes on the Haitian Revolution, A Turbulent Time and The Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. And finally I want to re-read two books extremely germane to my subject, both of which I read a year or so ago, when I understood my subject much less than I do now: Rothman’s Slave Country and Kastor’s The Nation’s Crucible. All of the above should be completed with at least a mini-review if not a full, thoughtful essay.

Since the last three projects will be easy to do anywhere regardless of my location, and the first two may require me to be near Princeton in order to look up things in the Livingston collection, it seems clear that my goal for the next three weeks should be to transcribe notes, work on my Livingston database, and get a good chunk of pages written — either polished or “gritty” as it turns out to be — directly relating to my Livingston researches. In other words, try to get hefty chunks of #1 and #2 above under my belt before I leave for NOLA permanently.

It would be nice if I got a little bit more research done in the Gallatin microfilms, as well; I must find out whether Tulane, U. of N.O., or anyone else down there has those; and I must send an email to someone in the TJ Papers asking for advice on what to read for the “undocumented” period (1802-1809) that is at the heart of my own TJ interests.