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5 Jun 2011

Winding down – Wow. I hadn’t realized it had been this long since I had written something here. In my last entry I did say that I wasn’t going to be talking about the dissertation much over the next month, but I think I was hoping to write about other things. You can see how well that went.

“I still feel positive about things, if only because I am now hurtling toward the finish line with such speed that I could probably punch through a brick wall on sheer momentum alone.”

There are plenty of other things that I want to and could write about, but for some reason I find it very hard to actually sit down and do it. The idea was that I spend most of the day (when not working on things related to my teaching duties) working on the dissertation, so the last thing I wanted to do here was talk about the Dis. That’s what I’m calling it now, by the way. At first it was “the diss,” and then I decided to just drop the second “s” and make it more accurate. (For the uninitiated, Dis is the name of the city that houses the lower reaches of Hell in Dante’s The Divine Comedy.)

What I originally thought I would do is save any Dis-related writing until after I was finished and write about other things in the meantime to take my mind off the Dis. The first problem with that—that it’s very difficult to switch gears and talk about anything else of substance—I already mentioned. The second problem, though, is something that I’ve only just begun to realize: once I am finished with my own personal slice of Hell, I am most likely not going to want to talk about it. It’s possible that I will, but likely that I won’t. So I might as well talk about it while I’m in the middle of it.

But not tonight. It’s only nine o’clock now, but when you get up at five o’clock in the morning and spend the entire day writing a Dis, nine o’clock feels like the dead of night. My brain has ground to a halt and my eyes feel like they are going to fall out of my head. So this will be relatively short (says he of the many words).

Thankfully, things are winding down (thus the title). Last week I finished up the final assignments in each of my classes, and this week we have review and discussion sessions scheduled before final exams next week. This is fortunate timing, because the Dis draft is due on Thursday, and if I had to read and grade fifty translations things would be bleak. Things are probably not going to be all sunshine and butterflies as it is. I’m desperately trying to avoid another all-nighter, but it’s going to come down to the wire, as it always seems to do. I still feel positive about things, if only because I am now hurtling toward the finish line with such speed that I could probably punch through a brick wall on sheer momentum alone.

Things will not necessarily let up after Thursday. I will have to head down to SNU on Friday morning, then come back and start grading graduation exams. On Saturday I have administrative duties at school. Then I have to get ready for final exams and find the time to write a paper I will be presenting at a conference in early July. Once final exams are done and I’ve finished up all my grading, it will be time for the evaluation. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that, but it will no doubt involve more revisions. By that point, though, with the exception of the conference and some translation I do quarterly, I will not have any other obligations to get in the way, and I will hopefully be able to pound the Dis into submission.

Before I go, I would like to share two links I stumbled across recently. Both are from the same site, and both are related to dissertations. This first is entitled “A thesis proposal is a contract.” I have to say that I never thought of it that way, and I know for a fact that my own proposal was indeed treated as a formality. It was written so long ago that I only vaguely remember what I wrote. I do remember that what I wrote then and what I am working on now are not quite the same thing. This may sound less-than-ideal, but in my experience research grows and develops as you work on it. That is, you may not be entirely sure what it is that you want to do until you begin the writing. Then, once you begin, you realize that some things aren’t going to work out the way you thought they would, and you see other opportunities that you hadn’t noticed before. The sort of proposal suggested by this author is one that is written after much of the work has already been done: “Good proposals give the impression that between one-third and two-thirds of the work remains to be completed.” My first proposal, though, was written before I had begun the work in earnest. I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do, and I’ve stayed true to the spirit of that, but certain things—in particular things related to the scope of my research—have changed significantly.

Not that any of this means anything. I just felt slightly annoyed reading this and realized that it was going to be do me absolutely no good now. The second link is actually the previous entry on that blog: “3 qualities of successful Ph.D. Students.” I have my own ideas about this, but I’m not going to share them quite yet—especially since I am not yet a successful Ph.D. Student. But I will talk about this at some point in the future. Most likely I will first talk a little bit more about the process of writing the Dis, as I promised way back when.

For now, though, I am going to try to squeeze my eyeballs back in my head and see if I can get some rest. Five o’clock comes early.

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