Archive for August, 2008

Seeing as how one of the authors of the books I had commented on here about just left me a comment, I decided that it was high time that my previous post no longer sat at the top. In any case, I’m far too busy to write much at the moment, but I do want to comment on something that has been happening this summer that I don’t see enough of in academia.

I helped a few folks write Master’s Theses this summer and one thing that struck me about the whole thing was just how much their experience was like mine. They were frustrated with the form, cryptic comments left by committee members leading to rewrite after rewrite, and they were even more frustrated by other students, “Oh this is easy! Don’t worry about it!”

At the same time, I’ve been studying for QE’s, and honestly am pretty freaked out about it. Is 85/140 books read cover to cover really enough? Can I skim the rest? What sorts of questions can I really expect? Do I have to memorize the 5 canons? And what do I do about all the words I’ve only READ but never HEARD when I have to say them out loud and consequently sound like an idiot? Or hell, maybe I’m just going to freeze up and not be able to answer at all. Is it okay to go “off list” to answer? What about those books (2) that I’ve run into that I think would really help but aren’t on my list? Should I read them anyway?

Thing is, there’s not much anyone (off my committee anyway) can say or do to answer those questions, and my chair hasn’t answered my e-mail in about a month. It’s summer, I don’t expect much really.

What I really need, is somebody like who I’ve been to those Master’s candidates. I sat down with them, pulled out Creswell, and said, “Yeah, me too. Parts of writing my thesis really sucked. But the form isn’t all that hard¬† if you have a good example,” I hold up Creswell–thanks Gwen,¬† “And if you do it this way you’ll be okay. I promise. Don’t quit. Here’s exactly what you need to do.”

And coming from another grad student they listened. Heck, I think I’d listen to another grad student too. Having faculty members tell me it’s “not a hard test” when they already can quote half the books on my list blindfolded and drunk (well, maybe they’re not that good) doesn’t do anything to quell the fear that maybe I shouldn’t even be trying this to begin with.

There are plenty of signs that I’m doing okay–acceptance to the C’s, an excellent outside reader saying my project is good, and so on–and I’m sure that just about everybody feels like this just about now, but I wish academia benefited the “me too” a little more highly than it does.


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