Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A new research structure

Yesterday evening, my advisor and I tossed the basic setup of the research endeavor into early Mormon history and started over. We kept many of the parts, but he streamlined the process that I will have to go through to simplify the tasks. Of the key topoi that I had presented at the November colloquium, we tossed the question of the Book of Mormon and its connection to Gnostic, Hermetic, Romantic and philosophical concerns, the magical world view and the Second Great Awakening.

Instead, we opted to focus on the financial administration of the young Latter Day Saints congregation; on urbanization as communication in Nauvoo and its temple; and on the general principles of mobility during the time period. It is only when these topics are covered with a "naive" Braudelian tri-partite scheme of temporal structure that we match the interpretative structures to the Mediterranean, eliminating the need to reconstruct models that are unhelpful.

Having thus focused the palette based on contextual use, we can still apply the palette in a fifth chapter to the Mormon War of the 1830s and evaluate its helpfulness and/or omissions and insufficiencies.

With a good 50 pages for each chapter, 20+ pages for Introduction and Conclusion, this puts us at ~300 pages of effort. Furthermore, the approach disentangles the first three chapters on financial administration, urbanization and mobility from the model-theoretic framework, allowing them to stand on their own.

Finally, this approach eliminates a methodological straight-jacket and allows the sources to influence both the findings and the directions of the research, rather than fixing the validity and the schematics of the categories up front.

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