Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#DevilDiss News 31 March AKA Wait, what?

Yesterday was a banner day.
I sent chapter one of #DevilDiss to my committee.
The chapter was mostly done before I left for SCMS, so yesterday was spent adding the last scholarship and footnotes.
I was nervous, sat there just staring at my computer, unable to pull the trigger and hit send until social media friends pushed me.
My original plan was to have both chapters one and two to the committee by today. But last week when I realized I needed to throw out the work I'd done on these chapters because they were clunky, I knew that wouldn't happen. I was happy to have chapter one finished and sent off yesterday, and am on track to finish chapter two next week once I'm back from PCA/ACA. I had told my committee I wouldn't sacrifice the quality of my work to meet arbitrary deadlines, and this was one of those decisions. Chapter two is solid with tossing everything, but I need to add back in specific textual examples (broad strokes are there and good) and add the footnotes and scholarship. Easily done in the two dedicated #DevilDiss days I have next week.

But this post is not really about that.
There's a book I used to teach called The Pact about three boys growing up in bad neighborhoods who make a pact to finish school and go onto med school. In one scene one of the boys, now a medical student, talks about the other, more privileged students and their advantages, both obvious and not. How the fact that their parent was a doctor, they knew what a stethoscope was, and they grew up hearing medical terms, meant they were better prepared than the boys.
That's how I feel about PhD programs a lot of the time.
I'm not sure how this all works. Everything I know I know from reading other people's blogs and articles. Neither of my parents graduated from college, although Mom took some work related training classes here and there.
Most of the time I muddle through and it's fine.
But then there are days like last night when I feel like I've been whomped.

I have what my committee has called an "ambitious" timeline for completion- all chapters in draft form this semester to committee members. One of the reasons why I thought this would be doable was the sharing/division of work- chapters one and two would go to two members, chapter three to two, chapter five to another. The big goal was in May, or soon thereafter, to have the drafts back with notes so I could spend the summer revising.
This was the timeline I presented at my prospectus defense. Other than concern over it being too fast, there were no other notes.
So yesterday I sent my chapter off to my two committee members. Sat back, too ten seconds to pat myself on the back, then turned to chapter two.
But late last night received an email from one of them that they didn't want to look at any drafts until final, until I'd drafted and revised with my director.
I guess this is how it works? That's the process.
I feel like this is something I should have known. That people with parents with college degrees and advanced degrees would know.
No one said anything to me, so I didn't know.

Which changes things. A lot. My director is lovely but has classes and a workload of their own. And I'm not sure about four chapters (two of which being survey chapters clock in at 40+ pages) getting read and edited/revised for notes in the next month and change.
And after reading blogs last summer about professors not wanting to work over summers, because they have their own work, I wouldn't ask that.
But I was counting on being able to work and revise all summer.
So I'm not quite sure what to do. I have a meeting with my director next week, and I emailed her to let her know that we needed to revisit my timeline.
This is what I'm thinking:
  • Still work to timeline of CH 1, 2, 3, 5 to director by end of semester
  • Write CH 4 this summer
  • Work on introductions and conclusions this summer
  • August: get notes back on all chapters, submit CH 4, intro and conclusion
  • September: revise CH 1, 2, 3, 5
  • October: second draft to director (still in a good enough place that committee can put in letters I'll defend in Spring 2016)
  • November: final drafts to entire committee
Because here's the other conversation no one is having- we get a stipend/TAship here. And it covers food, bills. But it doesn't cover rent. Or books. Or conference travel. I had to take out $8000 in student loans this year to cover those things. And next year, I imagine I'll have to take a little more, as I had to dip into untouchable savings this year to cover stuff. Most TAs I know have boyfriends, husbands, fiancees that they are splitting bills with. And let me tell you what a difference that makes- $14,000+ a year goes a lot further if it's only covering half the stuff. Even more so if your significant other has a "real job" above the poverty line. Even MORE if mom and dad are helping in addition to all that.

The simple fact is I can't afford to not meet my timeline. I have $24,000 in student loans from previous years. I paid off my undergraduate years ago, and my first masters was free through Teach for NY, but the second one was not. And interest is high.
Now I had a professor tell me not to worry about my student loans because teaching in higher ed, they were eventually forgiven. And that's great. But what if I can't get a job? Or can't get one right away- as now people spend several years on the market before landing a job, if they do? How do I afford hundreds of dollars a month in student loan payments?
I'd love to be able to take another year if I needed it. But I can't afford to.
And to me that's another aspect of privilege- the assumption that everyone who is in a PhD program can afford it, is from a certain class, has certain advantages.
So I have some issues to work through, and we'll see what my director says.

What about you? How do you deal with all the extra costs of grad school? Do you have financial support? Are your finances influencing YOUR timeline? Do you feel the class difference of secret handshakes?


Monday, March 23, 2015

This week in #DevilDiss news 23 March 2015


There's a Patron Demon of Scribes, Titivillus. 
I find this interesting on multiple levels. First as a Catholic, the fact there's a patron demon is cool. As a writer, this makes perfect sense as the reason for ALL writer's block. As the future Dr. Devil, it's just one more cool research thing.

The next couple of weeks are a little bonkers with conferences and travel and such but I'm dedicated to regularly writing about my writing process for #DevilDiss, so here's the progress since last Wednesday's prospectus defense:
  • Friday I went through a clean copy of Paradise Lost and color coded flagged instances of physical descriptions, actions and personality, dramatic examples, and English national identity. I did this for several reasons. My director and I had talked earlier about reframing the dissertation so that the Milton didn't feel like an after thought. This concern came up again during my defense so I wanted to reread Paradise Lost with fresh eyes, knowing what I know about all the devil research.

  • I then pulled all these textual examples and organized them into the proper chapter headings.
  • Then came the daunting part yesterday. I had to throw out the 30+ page versions I had of chapter one of the #DevilDiss that I've spent months working on. This was scary, but liberating. Scary for obvious reasons, but liberating because it proved to myself just how well I know this topic now. I printed it today, and while traveling will edit/revise but I feel really good about sending it to committee members later this week. I feel like I've gotten it as good as I can without fresh eyes on it.
  • Today I looked at chapter two and realized what a disaster it was. Hot mess was the technical term I used. There was too much historicism, there were too many half mentioned notes. So I threw that out too and just spent today rewriting it, using my dipity timeline from comps as a reference. I spent the morning finding guiding images to focus the subtopics and then spent the afternoon writing. It needs another pass, adding back in specific textual evidence but the big ideas/broad strokes are there so I'm feeling really good about that. Another day on that, another day of revision and that can go out into the world too.
The next couple of weeks are older commitments, my popular culture work that is in  no way connected to my dissertation, although the Twin Peaks/Folkloric Forest and Teen Wolf paper certainly gesture towards my folklore/popular culture work. I think this mental break will be nice. I'll get to see friends, put faces to Twitter friends I haven't met. Once I'm back it'll be time to expand my Old English and Milton conference papers into full articles/chapters and I think 1)the hard work on those is done and 2) that expansion will work better/go faster with fresh, rested eyes.

I'm also going to TRY and remember that I initially decided to do PCA/ACA in New Orleans as my treat to myself for comps (and now the prospectus defense). It's been a rough and busy couple of months, and the break will be welcome.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pondering his voyage...revisiting Paradise Lost for the #DevilDiss

So far my dissertation work has focused on the English folkloric devil in popular literature that I'm reading as precursors to Milton's Satan. I've spent months close reading every instance of the devil in popular literature from the Anglo-Saxons up through Milton. And this is all very valuable work because it allowed me to group appearances and themes by subtopic and see the big picture.

But one of the key bits of advice I received at my prospectus defense was to make sure that this project was clearly rooted in Milton. In fact one of the more pointed notes was that my title for the dissertation is "'Pondering his voyage': The Folkloric Origins of the Miltonic Satan" and that I didn't get to Milton until chapter five so I either needed to work Milton in earlier, add another Milton chapter, or drop Milton from the title. The first one is really the only option I saw as viable.
So that meant today was spent revisiting Paradise Lost. I ordered a clean copy of it a few weeks ago, wanting a fresh start from my other annotations, not wanting to be tied to old ideas. So this morning I sat down with my clean copy and lots and lots of Post-It flags.

 The color coding is divided into my chapters:
  • Blue = physical descriptions (chapter 1)
  • Pink = personality and actions (chapter 2)
  • Orange = drama (chapter 3)
  • Yellow = English national identity (chapter 5)
I reread all of Paradise Lost marking each instance of textual evidence according to its appropriate flag. I then went into Google Docs and pointedly ignored the draft chapters I have of chapters one and two. I instead created a new "working" document with all the chapters, and started pulling the textual evidence and writing. The physical descriptions are all finished and I have nine solid pages. Those close readings will now frame the other work I've been doing with the popular literature examples although rather than copying and pasting from those documents I plan on reading them, and rewriting the arguments so that they're framed around Milton.
I will then systematically go through each color/chapter and follow the same process. This will allow me to make sure all my work is grounded in Paradise Lost and make sure that these throughlines are clear in the work. It also allows me to reexamine the work I have done in the last year and focus on global revisions and not surface edits. I think this ultimately will get me where I need to be faster. It's a little more time consuming than just revising the survey chapters but I do think ultimately it will serve me better. Chapter three and four are in conference form, so these pulls should be less time consuming.

I'm feeling good about this perspective shift and hopefully it will prove fruitful.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Dissertation Prospectus Defense

I'll get the suspense out of the way, it was accepted by the committee.
I didn't really know going in what to expect. I'd met with my director, and we'd gone through several versions of my presentation, but I had never been to a prospectus defense, so I didn't really know what the genre was or what to expect. And I couldn't find any blogs, notes, musings to explain it to me, so this is a mostly informative piece and next steps.
Caveat: this is how my uni does it, no idea if this is standard.

I presented on my prospectus which was version three, as other versions didn't take into account my audience had read my prospectus. I used this cheat sheet of notes to guide me so I wasn't reading the presentation.
The time is a blur, but I think I spoke for fifteen minutes or so.
After the presentation, it was a round robin style questioning as members of my committee asked me to clarify sections of my prospectus, or expand or clarify approach or methodology. I took notes on the questions to consider or address.
Then I (and my cheering section of friends who had attended) were asked to leave while the committee discussed. They took a while which made me nervous, but once they asked me back in they told me that they had accepted it, although each had notes that I will get in the next week. Once I make those revisions, I'll send the prospectus as a PDF to our department, and they'll file it on the server.

I made sure to shake everyone's hand, and wrote thank you emails afterwards.
I guess I looked weird after because my director asked if I was okay. I have no idea what my face looked like, apparently it appeared disappointed. I was fine, just tired, felt a little wrung out.

And here's how I explained it yesterday, these hurdles loom so large as you approach them, but once you pass them, it's like you whizzed past them at 80 mph. They're just gone.
One of the concerns brought up yesterday was how ambitious my timeline was. That I would not be able to achieve it. That the work/project would be sacrificed to meet an arbitrary deadline. I assured them that wasn't the case, that the project came first. But maybe this was what caused my face. While I was told the committee unanimously, and even enthusiastically, accepted my prospectus, and my work ethic was mentioned, this read as a lack of belief in me.
I've never been the smartest person in the room. I didn't go to Ivy League schools. I don't have pedigree or credentials. I went to a state university, then a CUNY school while teaching full time, then earned my M.A in English during the summers. But I have a work ethic that I'll place up against anyone's pedigree. I will work harder, be scrappier, and get stuff done because I have to make up for all those other things. And I've proved this.
This is my fourth semester in my PhD program. I finished my coursework last semester, in three semesters, and I did it by taking 12 and 13 credits per semester. While teaching. And acting as core writing coordinator. And publishing an article, writing two chapters for edited collections, and submitting three articles to journals. I comped in February. I defended my prospectus three weeks after passing comps. Two out of my five dissertation chapters are in draft form. Two more are in conference presentation form and just have to be expanded with scholarship. Next semester I have an independent study to finish my Old English language requirement, and teaching, but that's it. And so I feel good.

I think that my track record proves that I am capable of sticking to my timeline. But I didn't feel like that. I met with a professor later yesterday and when I shared that ennui feeling he said that part of it was probably the fact that lots of people set ambitious timelines but aren't capable or willing to stick to them, so it was caution. And that made me feel better.
As did him asking me to come teach one of his classes in the fall since I was "the expert" on the devil. That was flattering, and meant a lot, as it's a professor I admire.

Some of the other grad student responses (outside of my cheering section) have been less enthusiastic. One person said to me that "other students must hate you." And wow, I hope that's not true. But part of me doesn't care. Although, why does it have to be like that? Why can't we just celebrate each other?

Anyway. So now, I have this semester to finish those chapters that are in draft/conference form and get them to the committee. I am still aiming to have those back this summer so I can spend the summer revising, so a complete draft of the dissertation to my director in August for other notes/revisions, so I can turn around those in the fall. I want my committee members to be able to say in their letters for the job market in September/October that they feel confident I will defend in early Spring 2016.
For now, I'm going to keep checking things off my list and moving forward.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Double the Conferences Double the Fun: SCMS 15 and PCA/ACA 2015

I have two conferences back to back, SCMS in Montreal next week, and then PCA/ACA in New Orleans. While this meant more work over an already busy Spring Break, I'm very excited about both, for different reasons.
It's my first time at SCMS and while Montreal's weather terrifies me, our panel on Twin Peaks is a preview of our co-edited In Focus for Cinema Journal so that will be fun. The presentation is below, but not linking to paper because it is the basis of my In Focus essay.

You'll either have to just enjoy the pretty pictures, or come to our panel which is Wednesday 25 March 12-145p. I'll be the one in the tie. Or stop by the registration desk on Friday 12-5p and say hi! This is a big conference and I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and  put faces to Twitter names so that will be nice too.

This is my fourth year presenting on the fairy tale panel at PCA/ACA and at this point it feels like coming home. PCA/ACA has a great vibe, and has some of the most accepting, supportive scholars I've ever encountered. I am particularly grateful for Robin Gray Nicks & Linda J. Holland Toll who are wonderful panel chairs.
The paper is linked to the title (although it needs one last round of revision). Our panel is Thursday 2 April at 945a, so come see.
If the #Sterek portion of the paper/presentation is your favorite then you might also like to check out
KT Torrey's organized round table of: "What's Your Definition of Dirty, Baby?: Taking Pleasure, Together, in Fanfic" Friday at 630p.

So it's a busy few weeks- this week I defend my dissertation prospectus, then off to Montreal, then home for a few brief days before jetting off to New Orleans. While I'm happy to be traveling to these conferences, and happy with these papers, shoving four total conferences (MLA in January, ACMRS in February, SCMS in March and PCA/ACA in April) into this semester because it's the last set of conferences that will appear on my CV before the job market was INSANE. And I won't do this to myself again.
I will as always, be grateful once I'm on the other side.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Break 2015 (otherwise known as ten solid days to work without interruption)

So I've been on Spring Break this last week.
As a PhD student, this meant ten solid days of 10-12 hour days glued to my desk working.
I took part of the day off on Tuesday to have brunch with the girls and go see dinosaurs. Oh, and buy a glow in the dark t-shirt of T-Rex.
But that was it. The rest of the time was checking things off a ridiculously long to-do list. This is what my planner had scheduled for break:
  • Friday: work on Milton conference paper, Skype with co-editor about project, final notes on contributors' submissions
  • Saturday: work on Milton conference paper
  • Sunday: read scholarship for Milton conference paper
  • Monday: translate all the Old English I need for Anglo-Saxon introduction of survey chapters for dissertation
  • Tuesday: after brunch and dinosaurs, library day to pick up scholarship about English national identity for Milton paper
  • Wednesday: Old English make up work (for two weeks I'll miss due to SCMS and PCA/ACA which ended up being rhetorical precis based reading responses for four separate articles/book chapters and translating sixteen pages of Old English).
  • Thursday: write Teen Wolf paper for PCA/ACA Was completely frakked on this by wireless going down at lunch, incompetent tech and it being late afternoon before it was fixed and back up
  • Friday: Milton paper, meet with dissertation director re: prospectus defense next week, print long articles while on campus, scan Old English translations and send to professor, fix dissertation prospectus defense presentation based on notes, write out my notes for defense
  • Saturday: Lesson plan for week, statistic work as core writing coordinator, comment on classmates' papers, finish Old English conference paper, finish Milton conference paper
  • Sunday: finish Teen Wolf paper
Which leads me to this comment which I said several times last week leading up to break
I am not a role model.
I think I do lots of things (planning writing, how I schedule everything, dedicated #DevilDiss days, color coding) that other people can use with success, but please don't use me for a point of comparison. For several reasons.
I am not married.
I don't have children.
I have nothing but a Puppy Overlord dictating my actions.
And frankly, as long as I don't give her shit about sleeping on the bed all day, give her long walks twice a day, feed her twice a day, occasionally let her lick my plate, and take breaks from work to chase her around the yard and play with a squeaky toy, she doesn't give a shit that I spend 10-12 hours at my desk.

I understand that this is not most people's situation. I understand that they have spouses and boyfriends and family and other commitments that they must balance with work. So if you're one of those people, go read those people's blogs. This is not that. And this intersects with why I think it's important that we do blog and discuss and share our work/life balance, and our process because each of our narratives are unique. There is no one size fits all in academia, although there are shared experiences. So some of what I do may work for you. A lot won't. And that's okay.
Here's what's not okay- shaming any grad student, academic, early career scholar, tenured scholar, or independent scholar for what works for them.
I saw it happen a couple of times this week.
Nobody has time for that shit.
I know a lot of people who took all of break off. Like OFF off. Traveled somewhere, had a vacation, spent time with significant others. And that's great if that works for them. I don't understand giving up ten days of uninterrupted writing, but that's just me. And that's okay. Because I'm NOT THEM.

I believe sharing our process, and our failures as well as our successes can be helpful to others. I see it as a human service. And I am grateful to the other scholars I follow who share and write about their experiences.
But people need to recognize that other people's stories are not yours. They shouldn't be. Find your own voice, your own story, your own life hacks.
I am willing to not date. Not have a life. Not go out. Not socialize. Not do anything but THIS for the three years I need to get this PhD DONE. Because that's how I'm prioritizing my life. That's my choice. And I am perfectly happy to sit in my home office, spend time with Nehi, have movies in the background and work all day.
This movie quote is on one of my comp t-shirts, and it's the answer I give when asked how I'm doing a PhD in three years:
 
So as you're working and on social media, remember that we should be able to celebrate and support each other without the tear-down factor.
So I'm going to celebrate everything I've gotten done this week, post this blog, and get back to finishing my work.
Because the clock is ticking on my uninterrupted work time and I plan on taking advantage of every second.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Anglo-Saxon Hagiography Notes #DevilDiss

Codex_Bodmer_127_044v_Juliana ties up devil 1170-1200 
Today I spent the day reading Juliana and Elene. I had a facing page translation I worked from examining at word level definitions and usages. In particular I was looking at the interactions with the devil as these Anglo-Saxon texts form the beginnings of my survey chapters (1 and 2).
I'm looking at these texts for several things: how is the devil described? Where in the text does the devil appear? How is he used? What can we read in this use/function? How is this devil different from later devils and what can we read in that?
So here were the takeaways for today:

Juliana
  • unlike many hagiographies, the heathen husband to be is not associated with the devil. It is only once she refuses Heliseus that he becomes associated with a fiend. 
  • There is an interesting association with men finding their manhood with devils. 
  • The devil is described as a monster, helle hǣftling "hell captive," wicked, miserable
  • This devil can shapeshift, first appearing to Juliana in the shape of an angel although we get no description of what the devil himself looks like although he's associated with sweart- blackness or darkness and deceives men by "mislic bleo" different forms, although can also be read as different colors
  • For actions he is described as using trickery and mischief, weakening men's minds
  • Hell is described as a sad dwelling, and the devil is described as being exiled, wrǣcca (exile) and the devil is a grieving devil
  • There's also an association of the devil with error, gedwilda
  • aferhygdum = arrogance or pride which I wonder is the source of the sadness previously mentioned
  • The devil is also associated as faithless "wǣrlogan wordum" one who is faithless or false in their covenant
  • In Juliana  the devil is a frame for the action- appearing in the prison cell, then later when she's being led to death where he "sings his misery"
Elene
  • here the Jewish people were "seduced" by the devil with false tricks and now must suffer punishment for this. Seduced here can also mean mislead or lead astray.
  • Elene goes to Jerusalem on Constantine's orders to find out, from the Jews, where the true cross is buried. 
  • In her logic, the Jews had great wisdom but because they refused to acknowledge Christ they are damned. Elene presents to them that if they help her find the true cross (after torture) they will no longer be damned.
  • Here again we have the phrase banished and cursed.
  • They're also described as being blinded in their mind and sad of mind "geomormode." This sadness echoes what we have in Juliana with pride and arrogance as possible source of sadness.
  • Elene also becomes a Saint after interacting with the devil-inspired Jews, she's only Elene before that.
  • Later there's an echo of "band of outcasts" also described as banished, accursed who are "þeostrum forþylmed" overwhelmed with darkness. They are also here associated with dragons.
  • Strangely when they find the cross, it is buried in a dark pit/chamber (which sounds like hell?), the term could also mean grave, left there by the Jews who are devoid of honor.
  • A devil appears late in the hagiography, described also as a monster, stating that he's angry they're taking his "treasure"
  • The devil is also described as destructive but again there is no physical description of him.
So far I've gotten some great notes about word choice although it's slow going with focusing so much on small words/close readings. And so far all the textual examples support my larger arguments.
Tomorrow I have to hit the library to grab Andreas, Guthlac, Genesis B and Christ and Satan texts and will get started on those translations.
Feeling good about the slow but productive progress.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Brainstorming for Milton Chapter 7 March 2015

Product/Process Note:
So from now on out I'm focused on #DevilDiss all the time. As I work through research and situate chapters and argument I plan on posting blog notes about the product and process I work through. These will generally be rough pieces of writing but this will allow me to have my thoughts in one place, and keep notes and links together in addition to Zotero and my hand-written notes, color-coded flashcards, and annotated books and articles.
I'm hoping this tracking will help me not only track the minutiae but also keep my eye on the big picture.

Today I started digging into my Milton chapter.
A couple of introductory/guiding notes in no particular order:
  • Anglo-Saxonists were more Gregorian than Augustinian (countering Lockett). Emphasis on materiality which we see in the I-not I of the folkloric devil.
  • This dovetails with Milton's material theory (Dobranski 2012:89).
  • Milton's "anti-masque" A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle with Comus =/= clown but is actual threat, as continuation of me reading devil figures through Bakhtinian lens (Dobranski 2012: 58)
  • There's also a connection here to Faeie Queen. Allegory, Milton's original intent of Arthurian epic (but need to figure out a way to sidestep authorial intent here).
  • As part of argument about "folk" in Milton's writing want to find map of publishing houses and research about readership and material production. Am thinking re: overlaying a map. Twitter reference pointed me towards this which I'll have to explore: http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/map.htm
  • Was originally thinking I would just gesture back to Comus and ahead to Paradise Regained as way to dovetail and frame Paradise Lost within Milton's other works but now see that I have to situate amongst his prose works, although I think internal citations and footnotes will do a lot of this heavy lifting for me. Also this means CH 4 will focus on 16th and 17th prose tracts/pamphlets and exclude Milton since they'll be referenced here.
  • In particular: Tenure of Kings (1649, although some say 1650), Pro populo Anglicano defensio (1651),  The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660)
  • Think I want to start chapter with this "Milton was a man who wanted nothing but the best for his nation."
    • focus on the fact that we don't need to make assumptions about what Milton thought (authorial intent) because he told us in his prose tracts. Examine The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
    • Also from   Gabriel Roberts on darkness visible, "his political views cannot be easily separate either from his religious beliefs or from his poetry." 
    • divine rule over monarchy
    • situate PL "which rest upon the kind of context we have in mind" YES THIS!
    • Satan as "political voice" I would add OF THE PEOPLE
    • fallen angels = Cromwell supports = folk?

#DevilDiss Dissertation Prospectus Defense v2

So on Wednesday I sent my dissertation prospectus to my committee members. And of course immediately found a typo.
I sent the presentation to my director who is lovely, and pointed out the glaring error. While the presentation gives a great overview of my prospectus, it's too detailed. It assumes an uneducated audience. And my committee will have all read my prospectus.
I also asked on Twitter for help/advice/tips about the defense because I've never seen one, and am unsure of the conventions/guidelines. I got some great tips, but the one that really helped me was that it was less of a defense and more of a conversation about my work with advice about things to look at if not included and questions about why I chose a certain text or methodology.
So that plus the notes from my director resulted in a fairly major revision. This version focus more on what questions I'm interested in exploring, so if the prospectus DOESN'T address these my committee can guide me.
So this version has the addition of my guiding questions.
It also situates my work within an interdisciplinary sphere which I see as key to my work.
I kept the methodology web because I think that's key.
But I added a slide about my working hypothesis.
I also added a section on visual guides because although my work does not focus on art or manuscript images I do see this as a source for future research, and an expansion of what this project is. I also think that the visuals help me stay on track and focused.

My logic with the separate drafts is to correct any content specific errors in CH 1 and 2 in March, and then over the summer work with Dr. Greenberg. But it is summer, and I don't like to assume professors will work on their "off" time so I have some wriggle room there (after revising over the summer 2nd drafts of entire work would go to Dr. Greenberg in August once school starts back although she's on sabbatical and then I'd revise with those notes in September/October with final drafts still going to full committee in Fall).
So there's that. I'm meeting with Dr. Greenberg this week to discuss these changes, but feeling good.
Any tips, tricks, advice for me on my defense? Let me know!

Postscript: Dipity or Twitter is not letting me share my dipity timeline of the works I'm using for my dissertation, so I'm adding it here since someone asked.
http://www.dipity.com/khkshimabukuro/Devil-Diss-Timeline/ 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

#DevilDiss Dissertation Prospectus Defense

It's been a busy but productive week.
Yesterday I finished the last revisions and edits on the actual dissertation prospectus and sent it off to all of my committee members.
My defense date is set, so I made sure to invite a few friends and professors who while not on my committee have been mentors to me.
And of course, because it's me, I did it this way, posting on Facebook and Twitter.
Perhaps a little too informal and whimsical, but seriously that's a) me and b) if you can't have fun with your projects, quit now.

Once the prospectus was finished and sent off (I of course found a typo) I started working on the actual presentation. My understanding is that I'll present/walk through the prospectus for 20 minutes or so, and then there's questioning by the committee.
I feel good about having this all finished because I have some serious work to do over Spring Break on the actual #DevilDiss, and now that this is finished I can focus on those things confident that this is ready to go when we're back.

I welcome any advise or notes either on the actual content (see a work I absolutely missed and need to include?) or on presenting myself and/or my work at the actual defense. I've never seen a dissertation prospectus defense so I'm not really sure what the format, procedures are, so welcome any information on that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Passed Comps, Moving Right Along

Monday I attended a friend's M.A portfolio defense. And ran into one of my committee members who swore I'd hear something that day. I told them I wasn't concerned (because at that point I'd reached Zen about Comp Limbo) BUT if I was going to defend my prospectus 18 March, and had to have drafts of my prospectus to the committee by well, today, then I should know by then/now whether I passed to move forward or reschedule.
And by the time I'd gotten home from campus, I had a letter in my email inbox telling me I had passed (my uni did away with high pass we just have pass/fail and I'm fine with that).
I promptly celebrated.
And by celebrated I mean I posted this celebratory gif on social media, drank a Cherry Coke, and was nailed to my computer finishing the annotated bibliography I wanted to have finished the two days uni was closed for snowpocalypse.
The outpouring and support on Facebook and Twitter was great.
But I also posted this
Because today I will finish final notes/edits on my dissertation prospectus so I can email it out. I emailed my committee yesterday to confirm my defense in two weeks. Over Spring Break I'll put together my presentations for my defense. I'm aiming to get the first two survey chapters to two members of my committee in the next couple of weeks. Drafts of intros to those chapters to another prof after that. By the end of the semester drafts of CH 1, 2, 3, and 5 will be to committee members with a goal of revisions back before summer/beginning of summer so I can revise over break, and have second drafts to them all in August.

I'm a little behind on my ideal timeline/deadlines. But not by much. Still think I won't have a problem reaching the above goals. The one thing that has been punted is the Revising Milton book project (which ideally comes after the diss project, The Devil You Know). There's just no time to write, but because I am teaching the class on this, I do have LOTS of notes to come back to, and maybe over the summer tinker with when I need a fun break.
Over Spring Break, I have the following projects to complete:
  • Write conference version of Milton chapter (which I'm submitting to MTSU's Milton Symposium).
  • Write Old English conference paper (which becomes intros to  my two survey chapters) and send to professor for translation/close reading feedback before expanding.
  • Get ahead in OE translations and write reviews since I'm gone for two classes after break for SCMS and PCA/ACA.
  • Write Teen Wolf paper for PCA/ACA which will be mostly watching Teen Wolf in the background as I do this other work as it's already planned out.
  • Complete a book review (which is also double duty to see if I'm adding this to Revising Milton reading).
 
IF I end up having time, I also plan on starting to expand either (both?) the Milton and/or Old English conference papers into the 20-25 page book chapters they will become.
And I plan on going to see dinosaurs at the museum. Love dinosaurs. And may go see Insurgent, if only to get more glimpses of Four's tattoo.


Now that I've officially passed comps it's moved from a source of stress to just another thing I can now check off the list. And focus forward on what else needs to get done in the next two months. Happy to feel like I'm making forward progress once again.