Sunday, May 22, 2005

Out here on my own

Sometimes I wonder where I've been
Who I am...do I fit in?
Make-believing is hard alone
Out here on my own.
---Fame
This is one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had in academia. Perhaps I'm caught in a series of paradoxes.

I should be happy that I've passed my qualifying exams, and on one level I am. On another level, the experience of it opened up a big, wide, gaping door into my dissertation. Frankly, I needed the critical feedback. However, the experience literally left the door wide open in the middle of a spring thunderstorm. The exam and coursework process essentially came to an end with no fanfare (as I've said before), and the dissertation time opened up with a storm.

And then the faculty left for the summer, thus leaving me here with only a mildly-developed topic and no sounding boards. The thing is, last month two of my potential committee members indicated they would be willing to work with me this summer.

With the summer schedule, technically the faculty are under no obligation to respond to my emails requesting, "a brief meeting to share some ideas and hear your feedback." True to form, they are being completely silent. Phoning them is out of the question because asking a professor to "work for free" during the summer months is a major academic faux pas, and I suppose I don't blame them.

But they said they'd be willing to work with me this summer, so I'm caught in this odd paradox.

If I work on the dissertation proposal on my own with no map or compass from a faculty member for guidance, then I fear that by summer's end I'll be at the wrong airport unable to find a connecting flight to anywhere worthwhile.

Makes me sing the blues on what could have been a fine Saturday night.

2 comments:

lemming said...

Once upon a time, faculty were frightened doctoral candidates. Then they get PhDs and amnesia about said terror.

Is there a Roger equivalent in your life to whom you could turn? I'm not an expert in your field, but drop me a line any time.

Rob said...

Thanks for the perspective, Lemming! I needed that. :)