My dissertation has reached a crisis point.
Okay, not really. That’s just me being melodramatic. But really, I do have a teensy problem: my title. It seems to need a complete overhaul.
Back in 2007, I came up with the title “America’s Finest Ladies” in part because I liked the sound of it, and it fit with my research at that point, and I could’ve sworn I saw it on a recruiting ad from the 1950s. At my qualifying exams in 2008, however, two professors criticized the title because of the way it defines servicewomen as “ladies”.
Well, that was the way the armed forces defined servicewomen – and actually, the way more than a few servicewomen defined themselves (I’ve spoken with and read interviews with women who say they liked that the military defined women as “ladies first”). But the phrase probably does privilege the military’s definition a little more than I’d like, and it doesn’t QUITE work for my period as a whole (by the 1970s, in particular, this image starts to disappear).
So I’m in the process of trying to workout a new title. I’d love to have one figured out before I start sending out cover letters and CVs for jobs, but I’m sort of at a loss. I could change it to “America’s Finest Women,” which is the more prominent recruiting phrase from mid-century, at least. Or I could think about whether there’s anything catchy in my many, many sources.
I’m not sure where to go with this. My advisor suggested I take a day to think about it – something I haven’t yet had time to do. Maybe next week. But if anyone has recommendations on how to think about coming up with a title, please – let me know!