A finished dissertation is generally 200-300 pages long.You will find that developing an outline helps your thinking to move forward substantially, so that the actual writing of the dissertation is more clearly focused.
Make sure you define the theoretical categories you are introducing, and try to avoid technical jargon unless it is necessary to the intricacies of your argument.
Prospectuses and dissertations tend to either lose themselves in detail, or to be too general.
As youll see below, youve been assembling some of its elements over the last few weeks. This should be an updated version of the statement youve already given me. As you do your research, you may wish to consult the MLA bibliography and the Humanities Index, both available through CLIO Plus.
Other elements will push you further toward your thesis. Indicate in a few paragraphs the current version of your topic. Also relevant is American Literary Scholarship, an annual guide to research on American literature.
A dissertation prospectus is a paradoxical piece of writing.
It is not an abstract (which is to say, a summary of a completed dissertation) or an introductory chapter of a dissertation, but rather an attempt to describe what is planned before it has actually been done.
The "American Memory" collection at the Smithsonian may be especially useful if youre doing work that crosses disciplinary boundaries.
Many nineteenth-century periodicals are available on microfilm, in a collection called the American Periodical Series.
Since it is meant to be submitted soon after completion of the candidacy examination, it need not be a huge document.
Indeed, it could be around fifteen double-spaced pages in length (roughly 3500-4000 words) with up to ten further pages of bibliography.