Thursday, October 05, 2006


Happy. Presented in our departmental graduate student colloquiem today. It was the paper I presented at the conference in Kano, but I am trying to work on it for a symposium in the English Department in two weeks. I love working with film, because when I present on it everyone stays wide awake and laughs and murmurs when I play the film clips (even when the wretched powerpoint projector screws up and goes blank for half of each film clip). It's certainly more entertaining for the audience to get to watch bits and pieces of a film than to hear someone read a paper the whole time. I noticed this positive audience reaction in Kano too; of course, there the laughter and murmuring was much louder and more appreciative. Today, I got some great feedback--plenty to think about. My advisor seemed very interested and offered some good avenues for further research--on music links to C'ote D'ivoire etc. I'm often afraid of him, but he looked as if he were enjoying the presentation and as if he were genuinely interested. I got more of the "fellow-academic" vibe (or at least "advanced student" vibe) than mere lowly "MA student" vibe from him today, which is what I have been working a long time to feel--whether it's all in my imagination or not--it makes me feel better. [I realized recently that the "INFP" personality can be a bit of a drawback in this field; I admit that I am much too sensitive and emotional about some things that are just part of the whole academic process. This is where I need to develop acting skills--be able to "pretend" I don't feel anything for over 40 minutes--right now I can manage about 25 minutes before I know I need to get out or burst into tears] If I can ever get past this MA thesis hurdle, I think I will enjoy working on the whole Hausa film/global influences thing with him.

The only drawback is that I have to cut the presentation to 15 minutes for the symposium in two weeks (it was about 25 minutes today). Everyone offered so many great suggestions, but they will only make it longer. Then the wonderful Prof LH slipped back in after it was all over and I was packing up the powerpoint projector and said "I didn't want to say this during the discussion because you were getting such great content suggestions, but you could cut it down here and here and here and this specific thing and this specific thing might not be necessary for a more general audience." She also said this was about the best presentation she had ever seen me give. I love her!

The new prof. in the department also stayed behind and gave me some good comments, and the oldest (and probably most well known) prof. in the dept. (who had to listen to the presentation in the hallway because he has a big exam tomorrow and scads of students coming to see him about it) called me into his office and gave me some great suggestions for working my ideas on film into a seminar paper for his class this fall.

I'm tired because a lingering illness, but I feel on track and like I'm doing interesting and relevant research. I feel like I'm actually going somewhere. And if this is the best presentation I have given at a GSC so far, it is because I know what I'm talking about, I had some fun visual aids, and I knew how to respond to comments, critiques, and suggestions, even when I wasn't well-read in the specific thing that the person was talking about, because I have so much background in my own area. So, I guess this is how one gradually finds oneself a PhD--not that one is an "expert" in an area, necessarily, but that one seems to know more about it than anyone else in the room. In Kano, of course, I would be the least informed. But that's why I need to just keep going back--so that I can live between and defend my ideas on anyone's turf.

So, NOW, I need to get to work and start trying to cut it back down as LH suggested. I hope I can get it down to 15 minutes...

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