Monday, October 16, 2006

Illusions and the Grant Application Process

One must never, evidently, succumb to the illusion that one’s proposal-writing is actually proceeding along in an untroubled fashion. No sooner had I learned that I could not use Chapter 1 as a writing sample for the one application, and gone and sequestered myself at Káva Káva Káva for most of the afternoon to slave away at turning a different chapter into a 25-page snippet, than I received a reminder that a different application was due to my department November 4. Since that application is not due to the funding agency until December 1, I had forgotten about the departmental deadline and put the thing aside. Fortunately, I had written the majority of it already, but it must still be revised and a biographical statement invented or cobbled together from some previous biographical statement.
Biographical statements, like proposals, are tricky in that one must generally craft them to fit the interests of the funding agency. A statement that is suitable for one will seem too personal, too impersonal, too regional, or too feminist for another. My suspicion is that this one will require some sort of discussion of my intellectual and methodological development. These are things I generally feel very little interest in contemplating, at least in any form suitable for applications for funding. Grant agencies are not interested in my remarks about how approach X is useful to a point but is too often taken to crackpot extremes, or how approach Y is invariably used by people with an inordinate fondness for impenetrable jargon.
Meanwhile, I should like to know who imagines that a complete chapter in an art history dissertation is likely to be 25 double-spaced pages. A complete chapter in a novel, certainly; nothing could be more normal. Most novels do not have footnotes, and chapter length in novels is completely unstandardized and freeform. Dissertations, however, have numerous footnotes and thus a 25-page chapter seems a little slim on substance to me, even if one does strip out all the Czech quotations from the footnotes on the grounds that the funding agency readers are unlikely to know Czech.
On the positive side, this evening I received word that it looks as though my most recent conference paper will be published. The venture could of course fall through, but the intention sounds solid enough that I should be able to say the publication is forthcoming. This always looks good on grant applications.

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Blogger Kristen said...

Apparently you are also going for the Dadelus, eh?

October 17, 2006 4:29 AM  

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