This blog takes you behind the scenes of the writing of an academic history book – like a ‘making of’ featurette. Its aim is to make visible the traditionally invisible process of what it’s like for a university academic in the Humanities to write a research monograph, i.e. a single-authored 100,00 word book.

I’m a History Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford, and the book I’m writing has a working title of The Elusive Church: Luther, Poland and the Early Reformation. This project is supported by a British Academy Mid Career Fellowship (2012-13).

On these pages, you'll find a regular 'log' of how the book is progressing, plus information about the project. I welcome your comments and thoughts - whether you're studying or teaching history at school or university, or writing non-fiction yourself...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Monograph as Daisy?

A little while ago, I was about to go to sleep when a picture popped into my head, which I scribbled down like this:

I’ve tried thinking about the monograph as a machine with interlocking parts, or as a skyscraper, but I’m currently finding this floral metaphor quite useful. Chapter 1, which offers a narrative/ historiographical/ analytical overview of the early Reformation in Poland is the stalk, the basic root (of fact, evidence and context) which keeps the whole thing up (hopefully). The yellow centre is the core argument of the book, which will get its initial statement/airing in the Introduction. The petals fanning off are the individual chapters which all touch each other, but also point to and grow out from the central argument. Trying to decipher my late-night handwriting, I can see that I initially scrawled ‘windmill’ underneath the picture, which might be a slightly less twee formulation that ‘daisy’. I’ve found this a reassuring way of thinking about the monograph, because it makes the book look somehow solid, rational and an organic whole…. on my late-night note-paper at least.

Photo by I am His
Photo by chrisdonia

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