Friday, March 24, 2006

Day One

I apologize if for the next week my posts get a little monotonous! Such is the life of qualifying exams. I have seven days to write three fifteen-page essays, which really ain't so bad. I wrote a fifteen page paper in one day last week, after all.

I picked up my exam questions today at noon. They are...okay. It's not to say they are bad questions, as they accurately reflect my reading list and the written rationale I provided. However, it makes me realize that I wrote the first draft of that list practically a year ago. At the time, I knew that eventually my research interests were headed in a slightly different direction, but now that I am dealing concretely with this field I defined last year, I am struck how much some of my intellectual positions have changed. On the surface level, it would be easy to miss this, since I am mostly still working on the same subjects I have been working on since I started graduate school, even since I started doing musicology as a junior in college, really. But there have been some important changes in my theoretical mindset, and in my intellectual priorities.

I'm not sure why this is. Certain seminars I have taken have helped, both in and out of my department. Participating in several national conferences, where for the first time I had to present myself as a serious scholar with coherent positions, certainly affected things. Not unrelated, I've been working on my dissertation proposal for the last quarter, which in effect is my last chance to define what sort of scholarship I intend to pursue for the next few years. And personally, I've gone through a bit of a journey these past few months. All told, it seems like this last year--really, almost the exact amount of time I've been writing this blog, interestingly--has been a time for figuring out what sort of scholar and person I want to be for the foreseeable future.

So I guess what feels a little weird about these exams is that I feel pulled back, to a certain extent, to who I was a year ago. It's not a bad thing, and it is certainly not my committee's fault. But I hope when I get back to work tomorrow, I can stop being so darn introspective and start writing!

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