Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In Other News

It's April. It's finally warm and sunny here in the city, and I'm grateful for all of that.

Other things I'm grateful for:

  • Undergraduates who are working on fascinating final papers (including: evolving attitudes towards sexuality in America as seen through swing dancing styles; digital memes and the construction of "the human"; Chechen separatism and geography; the EU and the evolution of a "European Identity"; Radicalism and Digital Culture). I've had a great group this year -- they've been patient with my own, orals inspired delays and have followed me on every scary intellectual trek I've wanted to take them on. Moreover, they helped me learn how to be a better teacher by being vocal when things weren't clear, etc. What a great group!
  • Friends who have gotten me through one of the more difficult years of my PhD thus far.
  • Translation workshops in the Writing Division here. For two semesters now I've been taking translation workshops and it has entirely changed the way I relate to Old English poetry. Particularly because I now relate to it -- as poetry. The beauty of Old English wasn't exactly lost on me before, but there was a gap there. I was always "looking for the wanderer" but I hadn't realized that as ambiguous as the poetry seems, and as many possibilities as it opens -- it is still grounded, still a poem. It sounds almost silly when I articulate it -- but by learning to not tolerate every ambiguity, by simply learning to make choices when it comes to the poetry -- it became something new for me.
  • We're at something like 2 weeks to Kalamazoo!
That said, one last thing I am, after much deliberation, quite grateful for. I had my meeting with my orals advisers last Thursday.

I'll start with the good news: I passed my pre-oral. 16 hours and 36 pages later, I have good ideas that are worthy of pursuit, and I'm really, really pleased with that. I feel like I know what my dissertation is going to look like. Besides a monster, because that much I knew.

The slightly more ambivalent news: I am postponing the actual oral exam until September. There are a variety of reasons for this -- not least of which is I didn't want to ignore my brilliant students in these final days of the semester, scheduling difficulties, etc. Most importantly however, my advisers and I decided I needed to linger a little longer in the texts themselves. I've got the ideas of my dissertation beginning -- now I need to make sure that when the time comes, I have a wide knowledge of my field. Or perhaps more accurately -- a deeper knowledge of the texts in themselves.

I'm (finally) happy with this decision: I wasn't looking forward to rushing through the rest of my Chaucer list. Ultimately, this is a much more humane way of doing things. So that's a check in the good column as well.

Thanks to all the well-wishers and those keeping their fingers crossed for me. As my adviser said -- the test is over, and I've passed. Now I can relax and just read again. Which is a fine way, I think, to spend my summer. And I get back the pure joy of reading, which is lovely.

In the mean time, of course, I need to get my Kzoo paper polished up. Presented it to my colleagues yesterday, and got great feedback. Now I just have to incorporate it!


Dr. Virago said...

Just getting to this post, now, so sorry for the belatedness...

Yay! Congratulations on passing the pre-orals! And it sounds like you're making a sane and good decision to put off the orals themselves. Doing them at the beginning of the Fall term isn't all that much different from doing them now, anyway.

In other news, will you be coming to the blogger meet up I organized at K'zoo? I'd love to meet you, having missed the opportunity last year when I had to back out of that cool OE seminar at WVU.