Monday, April 09, 2007

D-Day tomorrow....

pray for me. my defense is tomorrow. i've re-read my thesis, and it is not the horrible thing i thought it was when i handed it in. i argue very intelligently in some of the chapters and there are occasionally (to quote my advisor on his last comments) "flashes of brilliant close reading." It, however, is not a masterpiece. There are passages that feel out of place, the organization is sometimes iffy, there are moments when I don't follow through on a thought. It starts out well and then gets a bit scattered at the end. I feel like I say very intelligent things in it, but that I don't always say them as well as I could. What worries me the most is that I have a scandelously small bibliography (ie. in the secondary sources/theoretical works... I have quite a few creative works that I've cited.) I also sort of made up my own theory and didn't quote any one theorist at length. I, personally, think that is ok, but I know the MA thesis is supposed to prove that you've grasped how to use theory, and nowhere in my thesis did I say anything like "in this thesis, I am following a poststructural feminist paradigm"... I'm just praying that my close reading is close enough, that there are enough of them, and that I the theory that I made up works consistently(I use poststructuralism without actually citing any poststructuralist thinkers, although I do quote Foucault all of one time [somewhere along the line my Derrida got axed], I cite Soyinka and Ngugi a lot but have cut out most of my quotes of their theory, and I argue that the theoretical foundation comes from within the novel itself, ala Harold Scheub and the "mythic centre.")

I defend at 10am tomorrow. I know one of my committee members will just smile at me, ask me easy questions and defend me against the others. The other one will be mildly critical, will ask me questions that relate to his research interests, and will give me a page long list of recommended reading of other people I can cite and refer to. And my advisor will rip me to pieces. I know him. And I've heard what he's done at other people's defenses. Everything he will say will be brilliant and right on point, and I will wonder why i didn't see all of that before. Just pray that I make it through without crying. I have this HORRIBLE habit of getting a twisty-cry-ey face in the middle of situations where it will be sheer mortification if I cry... these are the times I cry, unfortunately. I'm trying to calm myself down tonight so that I am a calm, confident, prepared epitomy of zen tomorrow. (ohm...ohm...) This probably means I should go to bed soon. But first I need to at least write up my intro. Here are my three imagined scenarios:

1) Dream world scenario: My advisor tells me that it is a brilliant, sophisticated, and elegantly written masterpiece of an MA thesis and that I should start revising it to turn into a series of journal articles.

2) Nightmare scenario: My advisor tells me it is the worst thing he has ever read, and that he can't believe that it has taken me so long to write such rubbish. That now that I have proven how simplistic my argumentation abilities are and how sloppy my research skills are that it is clear I am not cut out to be an academic and that he does not recommend that I continue in the PhD programme.

3) Probably what will happen: My advisor will pick my argument to pieces. Tell me my titles are bad and that my work is very unorganized and that he couldn't figure out what I was saying and how it related to my overall argument in at least three of the six chapters. He will also tell me that I clearly am a fan of the book, but as critics, we are called to take apart the book, and that I have clearly not been critical enough of Habila's shortcomings. And that where I was critical, it is obviously a straw-man argument. He will grumble about me having cited online editions of books (which I will be able to respond to by saying that I've fixed it since I turned in the draft), and he will kvetch about my wordiness. He will say that my work is not very original--it's not clear why I'm making such a big deal over Habila's novel when plenty of other novels use similar form. Furthermore he will say that when he told me to cut out the theoretical works in my first chapter, he didn't mean that I should cut them out all together (as i did in some cases) but that I shouldn't lean on them as if I had no thoughts of my own. He will say that this risks looking a lightweight because of my short bibliography and my writing on one novel. He will continue on in this vein for about 20 minutes until the gentle, smiling professor intervenes and says that afterall, this is just a masters thesis, and it is fine work for what it is, and that I've now gotten good practice for the disseration. And my advisor will say that, well, if this were a dissertation, I would have many years ahead of me, but since he knows that it is just an MA, and since it has improved a lot from the initial draft he read, he will pass me, but that I need to make sure I make these revisions before I turn it in. And I will humbly nod my head and say that they are all right in what they have said and that I will work on it. And then they will sign the paper, and I will be a MASTER OF ARTS degree holder. This is what I think will happen... it is what I hope will happen. The nightmare always lurks until it is over...

5 comments:

Professor Howdy said...

Hello!
Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

jennifer said...

I was awarded the Thinking Blogger award for the second time. Once a recipient I then pick 5 other bloggers that make me think.
I really did appreciate your comments, and although they are different than mine I am picking you as one of my 5 bloggers. You really do make me think. In fact you helped me to reinforce my beliefs and for that I am picking you. I will be posting tomorrow what you need to do, because you will need to tag five blogs that make you think.(penofjen.blogspot.com)

Talatu-Carmen said...

Hi Jennifer, thank you. I'm glad I made you think, although I'm sorry I served to reinforce your beliefs because I completely and utterly disagree with you on many, many of the things on your blog. But, if it made you think, that's good. I'll have to surf in and disagree with you some more... {-;

Fred said...

C:

First, congratulations on getting this far! I didn't, and I always respect those who have. Second, at least you know your shortcomings! I believe that's always an important first step. Third, I'm sure you'll do fine in your defense. You have to, you're just too much of an academic! Fourth, you will (of course) tell us how it went? Fifth--and finally--you will let us read the darned thing afterwards, right?

Talatu-Carmen said...

my goodness, Fred, is this a photo I see? Thank you for your kind words. I have about thirty minutes before I leave, so I need to put down my Bible, get out of my bed and get ready. I will, of course, blog about it after its over. And at some point, I will perhaps share the thesis in some sort of online format, which will mean blowing my already mostly blown cover and my nice self-delusion that I am somewhat anonymous, here. But, yes, thank you. I appreciate all the encouragement bloggers have shown during this process. And it aint over yet.... (as if it ever is...)