First of all, sorry for my lack of updates recently. You’d be amazed how things pile up after a while.
Anywho, before the Thanksgiving break really builds up momentum, I thought that this would be a good time to post an update on my final draft.
For the most part, I have a pretty clear idea of what I need to work on, thanks to Joanna and Amanda’s excellent suggestions. My big issues right now:
* Making my intro a little less… huge. I feel it necessary to convey how my topic fits into the larger historical context, but this larger context generally takes some time to fully elucidate. I do, however, need to figure out how to convey this scale without taking far too much space to do so. Reconciling my personal need to relate to the bigger picture while still being fairly direct will probably be my biggest challenge for the final copy.
* I have a long section (~2 pages) describing the organization and social stratification in both Temujin and Jamuqa’s armies. This, I feel, is an incredibly important topic that needs to be addressed in order to fully understand the conflict between the two Mongol leaders, but– as Joanna points out– this topic is not directly connected to my thesis statement; it is indirectly connected, but not immediately so. It is too important to leave out, but too extensive to demote to an endnote. I’m sure that I’ll figure out a way to work this issue out, but if anyone can think of any tips, that would be swell.
** Issues like this one are why I tend to be somewhat skeptical over the idea of basing everything in a paper around a single thesis. There is, of course, always a solution to any hurdle, thankfully.
* I directly reference one or two works that are neither historical nor academic in nature (a novel and a website), because they provide some excellent terms that get certain points across very concisely. Because they are not historical references and merely sources for phrases and terms, I am somewhat unsure how I should cite them. I was thinking of adding a third section to my ‘works cited,’ explicitly to denote these non-scholarly sources. I could simply not use these references, but I really like what they add to the paper. I suppose I’ll come to a verdict as I’m rewriting the paper.
* I will be the first to admit that my academic prose is… whimsical. This is my ‘voice’ as a writer and therefore not an element that I am ever going to willingly remove. With that said, I understand that I both can and have overdone the whimsy in my writing. One of the advantages of re-writing from scratch during the final paper is in catching these sorts of phrases before they get too out of hand. I don’t feel comfortable writing anything ‘sans whimsy’ (Indeed, the whimsical writing is often my little way of communicating to the readers just how much I am connecting with/enjoying the material. Topics that I find really stimulating tend to attract more enjoyable prose, while boring topics lend themselves to papers that are drier than a placeholder metaphor. In my experience, the latter papers tend to get worse grades than the former), but I know that there are times to moderate it. So, we’ll see where this goes in the final.
In the end, I’m probably not going to focus as much on my final draft over this break as I will on my presentation and a few other assignments for other classes. I’m certainly going to do SOME work on this paper, but since we have a week’s extension, I figure that I can take advantage of the extra time by using this break to knock out every other assignment.