Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dark Night of the Soul #1,456: Prospectus Edition

Okay, it's nearly 2:30am. I feel as though somebody's using my head as a compressed air cannister, I've been toiling away at a painfully slow pace for hours, and I just have to quit.

Honestly, I don't think there could have been one single week this calendar year during which I could less handle being with cold for four or five days. For the grading, which has to be in by the end of this week, I've managed to do everything but one set of essays and the final calculations. I've managed to get most of my materials written or ordered for the class I have to start teaching on Monday. I haven't started reading the last-minute assignments I got for the course I'll be taking, but I do at least have all the stuff I'm supposed to read. I did all these things days behind schedule, but there you are.

Now, the dissertation prospectus narrative--one of the most important documents of this sad little thing I call a career thus far--is in baaad shape. It is due next week. It is supposed to be 20 pages long. I was supposed to have a minimum of 15 pages done today.

It is a scanty 11 pages long.

I could keep flailing around at this, but hell, I'm still sick, and I have to sleep. Kindly Prof is just going to have to be appalled by how little I've accomplished when he sees that the early draft he requested is so pathetically stubby.

Can I just whinge at you a bit more? Okay? Good.

Writing this thing has been unmitigated hell. Sure, I have 30+ pages of bibliography, 'cause I have no problem with combing databases, library stacks, and footnotes for sources ad nauseum. But I have only 11 pages of narrative after months of work and years of back-burner thought. Why?

Because writing a document in a genre with which I'm completely unfamiliar and in which I'm compelled to pretend that (a) I'm absolutely certain I know what I'll find when I actually read all that stuff and (b) that my discoveries will, in fact, be important for any purpose other than getting my butt out of graduate school feels like a big fat lie. And it goes against most of the impulses that made me a scholar in the first place. You know, the ones that impel a person to actually thoroughly read and research things before shooting her mouth off about What They Mean.

I hate this process with a passion which could fuel a dozen pallid emo bands.

This grad school thing, man. Seriously. Just when you think it's made you feel as small, as foolish, as lonely, and as fraudulent as you possibly can, you realize you don't know the half of it.