Dreaming of Hands

It has been a while since my last post, so a few updates on my thesis progress are definitely in order. The last few weeks have been rich, challenging, exciting and exhausting. They have also crucially re-angled my thesis. Here are a few essential new details about my project:

  1. In October, my advisor recommended that I read Janet’s Repentance, in Scenes of Clerical Life, Eliot’s earliest work of fiction. To my delight, this beautiful novel of over one hundred pages is full of hands! I have decided to look at hands in this work from a biblical perspective, taking note of Eliot’s early scriptural formation and how the Hand of God functions in her writing.
  2. Finding another Eliot work that so relates to my thesis pushed me to reorient my project. I have decided to just focus on hands in George Eliot’s early works of fiction. This redirection has been so lifegiving! I love studying this author, and this gives me space to read more about her life and its impact on her writing. While I will look at hands from different perspectives in each of her works, this new, narrowed focus on Eliot’s early fiction anchors my project.
  3. My next work of fiction to read is Adam Bede. I’m hoping this work will offer much to say on the hand in relation to work and industry. We will see!

In the midst of writing and research, I am also learning to be patient with myself. Thesis projects take time – they grow incrementally rather than being baked overnight, so I have to give myself space to pause, breathe and reflect. It is often in these moments when I stop, that a breakthrough happens. For me, it has also been helpful to break down my project into pieces, looking at each different Eliot work as a different chapter. This means three essays of 20-30 pages each, mentally mangeable for me, rather than an overwhelming 80 page project all at once!

So, from now until winter break my goal is to:

  1. Finish drafting my Janet’s Repentance chapter
  2. Have an outline of my The Mill on the Floss chapter to work on over winter break

Until then, I will continue to spend most waking hours with the thoughts of hands and arms never straying too far from my mind. In fact, last week I dreamt of analyzing the literary significance of palms! Safe to say, my thesis is always close at hand (pun intended).


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