I am not a tenure track faculty, although I very much want to be at my institution. Thus, I don’t have the crushing timeline of research production to meet, but I am aware that my research agenda needs to be active and robust should I ever hope to move beyond my current position–whether at my home institution or elsewhere. Thus, I want to outline a few ideas and issues related to my current research plans in order to better organize my agenda and to possibly solicit advice or feedback from any reader who could offer it.
Article Stuck in Limbo I’ve been having a nearly year long go around with a journal about a submission, which is not all that unusual in the world of scholarly publishing. I am working under the assumption that the manuscript will get a final yes or no when the academic year starts back up in the fall, but I have little to base that on. Hopefully it will be straightened out and published, but having something hanging like this gets to be quite frustrating and I find it can block other productive work.
Dissertation Mining I’ve presented material from my dissertation at conferences, but have yet to publish anything directly from it. The Limbo Article is such a piece, and I am doing a major revision of another chapter for submission to a journal later this year. But I’ve found my enthusiasm waning for this component of my work. I am finding great joy in the new writing I’m doing with this revision, but working on the old stuff feels quite stale and joyless. I think, then, I will bid adieu to any further article mining from my dissertation and just let it be.
Book Proposal I need to get a book proposal together and research prepped for it if I ever hope to advance my career, but as you might have guessed from the above, my dissertation really doesn’t want or need to be published. I have two separate book projects in mind that would in fact be offshoots or extensions of work I did in my dissertation, but any proposal needs to have one or two sample chapters with it to be taken seriously. I don’t have those chapters, nor do I have the kind of time or budget to produce them that a tenure track faculty would. It’s a rather annoying kind of Catch-22.
Local Research While my residence of Jeffersonville, Indiana, is far from a perfect locale, it does have some interesting Black history. It was the only city in the area that was not a “sundown town,” so African Americans were drawn to settle here. To this day, Jeff is more diverse than the neighboring cities of Clarksville or Sellersburg. In addition, the city’s location on the Ohio River bordering Louisville, Kentucky made it a prime stop on the Underground Railroad. Because the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not extend to slaves in Kentucky (among other non-Conferderate States), many abolitionists worked to transport Kentucky slaves to freedom via the Ohio River into Jeffersonville.
One of the local anti-slavery heroes of note was Hannah Toliver, who was a resident of Jeff and got arrested in April 1864 for helping transport slaves across the river. She spent jail time in the Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort before receiving a pardon in January 1865. There is a plaque honoring her downtown on the riverfront.
I’ve been thinking about a research project involving Toliver, one which might consider her place amongst other famous female anti-slavery activists, but there is very little information about her. What little info we do know has already been listed and published by the Indiana Historical Society–census details, prison records, etc. Thus, my attention is turning more toward the city of Jeffersonville itself, and its recent attempts to memorialize and historicize the African American population and its contributions throughout history. A new heritage trail and conference have been created to draw tourists and scholars to the area.
A potentially fruitful research project might examine the means by which Jeff (and Southern Indiana more broadly) engages with these histories and how contemporary Jeff is succeeding at (or maybe is failing at) positioning itself as a town with a positive racial past.
Whatever I do, I am hoping to have a few projects in the publishing pipeline by the end of the calendar year, so I can make sure they qualify as part of my Annual Report for the university administration. All things considered, I’ve been doing well enough, I think, for a visiting faculty who has a 4-4 load and no research or travel budgets. The summer has been much slower in terms of scholarly production than I’d hoped, but here’s to getting back on the horse!