Friday, November 16, 2007

In which we engage in a rite of passage

For the first time ever, in the history of time, I cried in front of a professor. Two, in fact, during a three-hour meeting with two-thirds of my committee. Goddamn it.

In my defense, it was more minor leakage rather than a full-on jag, and it was prompted by Persnickety jabbing at a very sore spot. He suggested that what my chapters are lacking is a certain level of "professionalism." Ahem. This "professionalism," to judge by my training in this program, appears out of nowhere, or perhaps descends upon one, like grace or manna or bird droppings. It is not, so far as I can tell, an aspect that is taught as part of the curriculum for doctoral students. It is also not something that could have been mentioned at point earlier in the three years I've spent on the dissertation so far.

So, yeah. It was crying in lieu of stabbing someone with a pen.

Other than that, it was a useful meeting. I have a strategy now for establishing my argument in a way that satisfies Persnickety and is interesting enough to keep the newest member of my committee (we'll call him Don Music) engaged. I still need to run it by Cheerleader, but I'm sure she'll be on board.

There was also some weirdness around the question of my engagement with the critical and contemporary background for my primary texts that, the more I think about it, sounds like Persnickety may have been suggesting that I haven't done my research. Which, combined with my feeling that this whole denial-of-letters has the effect of accusing me of being a fraud, just ups my rage yet again. Because in the past half-dozen years I have felt anxious, doubtful, unsure, confused, and absolutely at sea at times, but I have never felt like a fraud. I know what I know, and these suggestions that I don't seem to be about the most counter-productive advising techniques I can think of.

Hm. It appears that I'm still angry. I wonder if that will go away at some point.

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1 comment:

Breena Ronan said...

Is the persnickety guy a guy? 'Cause I think men, especially older men don't like it when someone cries. (I'm kind of assuming that you are a woman.) They don't get it that many women cry when they are angry and frustrated. I hate it when I cry around professors.