Seven Six Five

Just one month–thirty days–now until I sit for qualifying exams.
Krista explained her program’s exam procedures in

an entry today
, and I was reminded I’m due for a report on exam-prep
progress. Every tiny
adds pep to my rally.

I’ve met or corresponded by email with all of the members of my exam
committee, and I have just one more meeting sometime next week to bat around
answerable questions for one of my minor exams now that I’ve dusted through the
reading on that list. All in all, I’ve had a reasonably solid stretch of
reading. Just five articles and six books (North, Aarseth, Haas,
Kittler, Elkins, and Mitchell) wait for first passes. It’s been
impossible to work through a full monograph on teaching days, so I’ve been doing
my best to line up articles for Mondays and Wednesdays. Should be able to
get through two articles tomorrow and the rest of the first-pass reading by the
end of next week. After that, I have a short list of books that I’ve read
but for which I have few notes aside from marginalia. This means that the
last two weeks of November will require lots of notes-focusing and writing in
small bursts, assembling and winding through clusters of ideas most relevant to
the exam areas.

I should be able to sit the two major exam questions (each for three hours)
on the day after my last day of teaching for the fall semester. After
that, I’ll take six days with a minor exam question before sitting for another
three-hour session one week after the major exams. After that, I’ll get a
question for the a week-long minor exam to be written at home. So that’s
the pattern: two three-hour questions written on-site for the major exam, one
three-hour question written on-site after prepping with it for a week, and one
full-week question written at home with full access to books and notes. After
that, well, it’ll be December 21, and I’ll take a couple of days off, go bowling
with the family, watch the snowflakes, anything. Because of the holidays,
I’ll probably learn of pass/fail by late January or early February at which time we’ll convene for
an oral exam where I get to apply duct tape to the flimsy places in my written


  1. I admire your vision and dedication. To those of us that are watching, you make it seem almost easy.

    Good luck if I don’t see you in the halls, but I think I will.

  2. Vision and dedication, eh? Maybe I can get a photo of me looking especially dogged on one of those Inspirationals posters. 😉

    Seriously, though, it is possible to be ready by December of third year (though not especially easy, if by “easy” we’re talking about lying around on the couch watching People’s Court and Judge Mathis, like I occasionally do). For folks who want to get them done by December (definitely it takes a summer and a semester), I have a few recommendations I’d be happy to share at some point, maybe between semesters. You already know quite a lot about my process with exams, but the hindsight clarity is forever expanding.

    And I’ll be at colloquium this afternoon. See you then.

  3. Hey, could you write something about how your areas work (in your copious spare time)? Or maybe you’ve already done that? It seems like you guys have quite a bit more lee-way in choosing the divisions of your examinations.

  4. I’ll do what I can to explain it in an upcoming entry. If there’s going to be one per day until the end of Nov., I should be able to get to it.

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