I find the term “research” odd. I’m not doing something a second time, so why the “re” prefix? I’m searching for the first time. I know full well the OED has a perfectly adequate etymological explanation, but I question the term not only for its surface inaccuracy, but also because I find the term “search” more exciting. It lets me feel like Indiana Jones.
Not only does conceptualizing this as a search allow me more agency, the title alludes to my mildly alarming lack of direction. In the three months I have been working on this thesis–working be a very generous term for my accomplishments last month–I have developed three different abstracts, not merely in form but in content. And I highly doubt that I have settled on to the content that will remain constant through the year.
Despite that uncertainty, the past week of delving into my topic–the form of early paperback printings of Shakespeare’s individual plays in America–has been positively electrifying. I’ve chased many rabbits, most of them resulting only in metaphorical dirty boots and literal wasted time, but I’ve found a few gems along the way.
I’ve looked through dozens of articles, checked out books from three libraries, and given the poor people at the ILL offices their fair share of work for the week. I’ve even bought myself some copies of a 1911 paperback printing of Shakespeare’s plays.
I’ve learned more about paperback printing and cover design in the early 20th century than I ever thought I would know, and it is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying to think that I have just scratched the surface.
Basically, it’s going to be a wild ride and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.