After yesterday's elation and warm fuzzy feelings, it figures that the universe would see fit to smack me down today. And about something so big and yet so worthless.
I used to regularly check the various databases to make sure that my research was still original. I had a few scares, of course. I think everyone does because it's amazing what can pop up after you switch your search terms. It's also amazing what's hidden in works that initially appear to be totally unrelated to your work.
Today, I was looking for the author of one specific article, when I came across this person's dissertation. The topic sounded very much like the argument in the chapter I'm currently revising. This chapter, by the way, is genius. My advisor thought that it was publishable pretty much as-is. I downloaded the diss, quickly concluded that the search function for preview and acrobat are shite, and started scrolling though all 300+ pages.
Near the end of the final chapter I find a sub-section that looks like my chapter. I print it out and begin reading it. The argument I had made in my dissertation chapter is good enough to be included in a defensable dissertation. The problem is, that dissertation was written by someone else and had been defended a short while ago. Even the quotes we use from primary sources are the same. Let me repeat that because it freaked me out: We included the exact same quotes from the exact same primary sources. The exact same.
It was like reading a post-revision version of my chapter.
So now, at this late stage in the game, I am wondering how to reshape my dissertation for the second time so that I can get the damn thing defended and out of my life forever.
I'm beginning to suspect that my diss won't be the thing of joy and beauty that I had originally envisioned because there really are two types of dissertations in this world: defended and incomplete. I want the former and I don't care how ugly it is anymore.