Comprehensive Exam #1 – the lowdown

I know, there is a lot of sex-related spam to this blog and I need to do something about it soon. I will, I promise.

But in the mean time, I will tell you about my comprehensive exam. It went something like this:

i recieved 4 questions at 10 am. They appeared equallly difficult as I assessed the 48 hours before me. I figured it should break down, 50-50 (or 24h-24h).

I picked one question -almost at random. I had to pick something. It was the historical question:

“Outline the main developments in Marxist theory from Marx’s day down through Habermas, discussing Lukács, the Frankfurt school, and any other trend that you reviewed in the course of your reading.”

The answer to this question, I realized, was the justification for my exam, and I felt impelled to answer it, in order to answer myself.

And so I did, but it was *painfully* slow and long and belaboured. I looked EVERYTHING up, not leaving a thing to chance, and it took a long time. Hence, I encroached on the next 24h, earmarked soley for Question#2. What could I do? I was going as fast as I could. I got tired. I went to bed but couldn’t sleep. When I fell asleep, I awoke mere hours later (like 3). I thought it was time to get up, and did. After my shower, and boiling tea, it was 6:15am. I began.

I finished, I don’t know when, and began the next question:

“What advice can you give for the social activist of the twenty-first century that is consistent with or builds upon what you have read in these comp areas? In particular, what “emancipatory communication” strategies seem likely/possible and what would the practical steps necessary to create them, learning from the lessons of the 19th and 20th centuries?”

It was the only one (of the remaining 3) that allowed me to continue my first question (which I had not finished answering), using it as a rhetorical device. I felt clever (I know you’re reading this Richard).

Anyhoo, that question was much more creative, and dare I say fun, but I didn’t have quite enough time to answer it in the way I’d like. I finished at 1 am the 2nd day, and set my alarm for 6am the next. The exam was due at 10 am.

Upon waking, I wrote for 4 hours straight. No shower, no breakie. Just the me and the computer, locked in battle. Who would be triumphant? Unfortunately, I won’t know till September, after I write the next comp, and then defend both exams orally. But I’ll say this: it *was* an experience (Ted was right, natch). I accomplished something. I *did* it, whatever “it” is. I don’t agree with the pedagogical method of this exam – perhaps I’ll go more into it later. Suffice it to say, it’s more like an endurance test e.g. a marathon, than a proper test of academic ability. But I fucking did it. And I’ll do it again, only better.

But for now, I’m teaching. And studying. And thinking about summer (deadly). Right now, things are ok.

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