Sorry for the lack of posting around here lately.
I presented my prospectus to the Early America workshop last week, so I've been pretty busy writing the darn thing, worrying about it, and talking about it. This was not a formal defense, just a draft presentation, but the consensus of the group was that I should not waste any more time laboring over a document that will bear little resemblance to my final project — I should get to work researching instead. That was encouraging to hear, so I will not worry too much about my formal defense, which will take place in April.
My one-sentence thesis is that New England graveyards (1600-1830) were contested public spaces in which living people enacted political arguments. I have a bunch of examples, several of which I have mentioned on this blog.
One thing I'm I little worried about is the wide sweep of my chronology. On one hand, 1830 seems like a logical place to draw the line between colonial-era graveyards and the rural cemetery movement of the Victorian era (Mount Auburn Cemetery was established in 1831). On the other, the heart of my project is in the 18th century and I could probably make my case by confining myself to 1720-1799. I suppose the best thing to do would be to start with an 18th-century chapter that will definitely fall within the chronology and then work my way either backward or forward as necessary.
In any event, I'll be a better blogger in the coming weeks now that I have this weight off my mind.