Dissertation on Internet Archive

Uploading one’s dissertation to the Internet Archive is certainly not for everybody, because publishers will not want to publish something that one can get elsewhere for free. Nonetheless, I took this big step after initially just making it available on GoogleDocs and Dropbox, where I had the freedom to delete the file. After careful consideration, I have concluded that any articles or book I write will be substantially new pieces of scholarship, not just recycled, even when I draw heavily on my empirical findings and analysis.

(I have also uploaded my MA thesis. Two articles I wrote lean heavily on it, but they also integrate a substantial body of new scholarship and reach deeper conclusions, as they should have after the passing of so much time.)

So why not make my research available to the public? I have some unusual freedom in this regard, because I am not looking for a tenure-track teaching job, which means I do not have to fulfill those kinds of requirements. Instead I can continue to engage in scholarship next to my editing and part-time teaching. And I can submit that scholarship to the scrutiny of peer review, which I intend to do, but without worrying about finding time and resources to research and write a monograph.

Want to see my theses? Visit my Writings page, which will get you there. But keep in mind that there is a difference between a thesis and a book. A thesis is written for one’s professors, and a book for a broader audience.

Still Reading the Dissertation

I am continuing to reread and ponder the dissertation. After getting over its many weaknesses, I see there is lots of good stuff in it, even if it is clearly in no way close to a book (following William Germano). There’s also no easy way to extract articles from it. These will have to be conceived and written from scratch, although the dissertation contains plenty of useful building blocks for essays on Groener and the Schlieffen Plan debate, military culture and the General Staff, images of officering and professionalism, and so on. First, however, I have to consider the extent to which I should make general arguments based on Groener versus offer work that focuses more narrowly on him, albeit to foster further work for broader conclusions.

Soldiers and Civilians in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71

One topic that I keep coming back to in my own thinking is the role of civilians in war, in particular relations between soldiers and civilians from opposite sides of a war in a combat zone or occupied territory. This goes back to my MA thesis from 1994, which resulted in a couple articles. I don’t see much more happening on the Franco-Prussian War at the moment, but my ears do perk up when related material comes up, and it won’t surprise me if I end up blogging about it here. To put that in context on this blog, let me reference two other old blog posts from Clio and Me:

One book I need to dig into more deeply is Isabell V. Hull, Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005). While I am skeptical about any special path in this regard, it is interesting how she brings the German military’s treatment of civilians in 1870—71 into a common story with the Schlieffen Plan, among other major events, including the Herero war and genocide.

That might be putting too much of a burden on culture, but it at least helps me to see what I thought were two separate research projects in a larger framework, soldiers and civilians in 1870–71, on the one hand, and Wilhelm Groener, the German officer corps, and German strategy, on the other. The connection was very real in some respects, insofar as a similar image of war informed the Great General Staff’s direction of the German invasions in 1870 and 1914.

I also plan to dig into Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), which I will assign for my graduate survey of modern European history this summer, and which directly addresses Hull’s arguments.

From Dissertation to . . . What?

I have just finished reading William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), which I can recommend to any scholar, not just those writing their first books. In my case, it offers food for thought about editing and writing in general. More importantly, it has helped encourage me to take up my research again, even if that probably won’t lead to a book.

That has meant picking up the old dissertation—”Wilhelm Groener, Officering, and the Schlieffen Plan” (Georgetown University, 2006)—and rereading it with an eye to developing article ideas and a modest research agenda for the next couple years. Since I plan to reflect on this work here, let me begin by referring to some old blog posts on Clio and Me that offer essential context:

Finally, my dissertation abstract and table of contents provide a useful starting point. And if you find you must read the whole dissertation, that is now available at the Internet Archive.

I updated the last link on Feb. 12, 2012. Earlier the dissertation was on Dropbox.


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