Friday, December 8, 2006
Sentence-coaster Rides, Screaming Prose
I jogged out the major qualifying exam yesterday, writing one answer in a three-hour morning session and a second answer in a three-hour afternoon session. I'm still a little bit groggy-headed about the whole of the performance. I'm fairly sure that I did a better job of answering the first question than the second. By the afternoon stint what was a heap of kicky ideas in the A.M. was reduced to a wash of once-kicky ideas wanting for a nap. I'm encouraged, still: I'm not embarrassed about the answers I wrote (okay, so maybe I'd take back a couple of sentences, if I could), and I feel fairly confident that I can defend my choices, explain why I did what I did, and convince my calmmittee that I executed the two major exams well enough that I deserve, more or less, to move on to what's next. I was thinking about including a note here about how much I wrote, about word and page counts, since I've been prone to a fascination with such trivia throughout the duress of preparation. But no, for now I will withhold those factoids. Today I'm leaving out those details in protest (a protest of relief, to be sure) of word and page counts. Let's just say I wrote all that I possibly could in three hours, twice.
Starting today (last night, technically), I'm squaring off with a take-home question for the first of two minor exams. I have the question for six days before I return to campus next Thursday for a three-hour on-site writing session. I don't have my response plotted out yet, but I have read the question and picked up the new materials that the question asks me to glance. Basically, it involves reading some of Heskett's stuff on design in tandem with selected texts (I choose) that make use of ecologies or ecological perspectives/frameworks (for media, information, composition, psychology, child development). The anchoring concepts, then, are design and ecology, and so far this morning I've just been etching out a couple of pre-ideas about niches, aggregation, emergence, and orchestration. My gut-level forecast for the ecologies-answer draft looks like this: 1. Gibson, 2. Bruner, 3. Fuller, 4. Nardi and O'Day, 5. Cooper, 6. Syverson, 7. Heidegger, 8. Latour. Other maybes: Norman, Bronfenbrenner, Polanyi, and Spinuzzi. It's all a swirl of abstractions that will come clearer, because it must, in the days ahead.
I thought up the title to this entry during halftime of the major exams yesterday. It gave me a momentary chuckle to think about high-speed prose and thrill-seeking: the strange exhilaration in dashing out something so intensely wrought, so hazard-filled and messy, so alive with rawness and pulsation. Because some sentences were long and winding (even looping) and because the ride was over before I knew it, I now think of my major qualifying exams as back-to-back sentence-coaster rides--and few small jilts of pleasure both in having done it and in not having to do it again (I can get on with fetishizing it).
Nothing more to add for now besides that this is yet one more hiatus from my exam-stretch postponement. And if there's other blog-itch, I'll scratch it.
Posted by Derek Mueller at December 8, 2006 9:00 AM to Qualifying Exams