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Is it a good idea to specialize in a single individual philosopher? Simone de Beauvoir? Merleau-Ponty? Irigaray? Or better to specialize in a particular topic, something obscure enough not to attract thousands of people to the questions? It's good to find a topic that is broad enough to insure interest beyond a series of papers. A good topic will gather together a small group of interesting writers/thinkers bringing all sorts of good questions.
Even a single name will draw together a group of names interested in angles and ideas. It's always good to compile a list of people that write on the topic of interest, gather together a bibliography for research and reference. A single figure will always have an array of topics that were or are of interest.
If you do find a philosopher that especially interests you, search out their personal history. Personal journals, both published and unpublished, can be an excellent source of information. Such ontic accounts help to create a sense of living history. Photographs help, too, not only of the philosopher, but of the landscapes and city locales. Novels that were popular at the time can help.
It's also interesting to search out the political events of a particular time whithin which the topic emerges. From world events to local events, if nothing else, it's fun to speculate on what might have influenced a thinker's thought. Trying to bring it close.
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