I think I've hit on a topic! For my major paper, that is. I was hemming and hawing because I wanted to do something that was related to Geneva, but continental reforms are totally not my specialty and also I really just don't know what sources are available here. But, I'm here, so I should really take advantage of the local materials and not just stick to EEBO like I've ben doing. The other problem, too, was finding a topic profound enough to be of publishable quality, but small enough to fit into 30-40 pages. (I can hear you all reacting out there, and you are divided into two groups: those who have not yet written a Master's thesis are scoffing and choking in disbelief, while the rest of you are nodding solemnly in agreement.)
So I spoke with my professor, who suggested I look through a collection of books just published by another one of our professors, which catalogues a set of correspondence (about 5,000 letters) written by a guy who lived in the Old City at the turn of the 18th century. Long story short, after lots of speed reading and flipping through pages, I think I will be examining something to do with the French Huguenot refugees who came through Geneva on their way to settle in Ireland during the 1690s.
Whatever, I think it's exciting. Cover your mouth when you yawn, would you?
So now I'm all excited to finally have a direction to move in. It's really hard when you're first trying to think of a project or a question, when you don't really know the area or what materials might be available to you. I'm also feeling the pressure because I'm leaving in 2.5 months and I need to have all of my primary research done by then so I can write my paper in the comfort of my home. At my desk in the kitchen. In between milkings and class prep. I live such a strange life.
One very fortunate thing was that I had gone into the professor's office to return her books, and I figured I should ask her now, while she was there, how to access the letters held in the private collections. She proceeded to tell me how difficult it was, but then said, "Oh, but I have photocopies of all the letters here which you can use!" and drew my attention to the hundreds of manila folders that took up most of her massive bookcases, where every one of the 5,000+ letters is photocopied and filed according to month and year. It was a researcher's dream. She's going to become my best friend, this prof. If she doesn't mind the drool spots on her floor.
Anyway, I'll be back in the library bright and early tomorrow. Which is good, because it's just starting to get chilly so I'm not so inclined to go out and nap on the lawn when I'm supposed to be working. I just hope I can find enough good material here to build a good case.