Friday, August 22, 2014

Adventures in Thesis Land, part two, in which I talk about my progress and my plans for the upcoming semester

Mostly I'm procrastinating right now, but the fire alarms in my building are being tested, which means I can't focus on anything productive to save my life.  So I'm doing this instead.

I've completed (more or less) the research portion of my project, and I've been writing every day since the beginning of August.  I expect I'll still be reading for some time to come, but only in little bits and pieces here and there.  Next week I'll be spending a couple days in Richmond at the Virginia Historical Society.  I'm really looking forward to digging through their archives and (hopefully) doing a touch of sightseeing.  The more time I spend in Civil War Richmond, the more anxious I am to actually visit.

I've completed a 35-page draft of my thesis, four and a half months before the first draft is officially due.  I'll spend the next few days revising it, and it gets turned in to my adviser on the 1st.  There was a girl in last year's class who managed to complete a draft of her thesis during the summer, and she ended up being the first student in program history to pass her defense without revisions.  She also won the award for outstanding thesis.  I want both of those things, so I really worked hard this summer to follow her example.  Even when I was traveling to and from Oregon for my best friend's wedding, I was reading articles and taking notes.  Even when I was fighting for 12+ hours a day, I was reading newspapers and dissertations and books in every spare minute, morning, noon, and night.  Since the end of thesis symposium in mid-May, I think I've taken a grand total of twelve days off from actively working on my thesis, and even on those days where I wasn't reading or writing, I was still thinking and talking about it.

Every night as I'm falling asleep, I think about my thesis.  Often I'll have to sit up to write down a genius thought, and then begin the falling-asleep process all over again.  It's annoying, as I'm already prone to insomnia, but also gratifying.

I go back to Staunton on Thursday next week.  As soon as I arrive, I help with Orientation, attend a lecture from a visiting Shakespeare troupe, hole up in the library, do a massive amount of housekeeping (laundry, groceries, unpacking, making big batches of food to freeze, etc), have dinner with my gal pal Sara, attend the second-year back-to-school BBQ, organize the thesis roundtable, memorize a sonnet for my directing class, get my oil changed...the list goes on.  I thought I was being really smart by coming back to town four days before classes start.  I thought I was going to have all kinds of time to get all my stuff done.  Now I think I might not have enough time.

I'm stage managing a really cool production of Measure for Measure in the fall, and rehearsals start on the 20th.  I don't want to toot my own horn (yes I do), but the rehearsal schedule I created is a thing of beauty.  It completely acknowledges and avoids everyone's conflicts.  Our Isabella isn't available in the evenings, our Escalus isn't available in the days,  our Angelo is only available three varying days a week, and I managed to schedule around everything.  The exciting part, though, is that our script is based off the Padua folio cut.  The director (my very dear friend Marshall, who was most recently referred to as my "program spouse") and I are really excited to begin the rehearsal process, and we hope we'll be able to write a conference paper or a journal article based on our experience.  

We also have plans to co-author a paper/article on our production of Clyomon & Clamydes in the spring, but that's another story for a different day.  

I'm terribly excited to be back in Staunton next week.  I'm ready to get back to the grind, to have structure and order to my days, to have projects that require my attention, and to have regular social interaction.  Yes, the fall semester is going to be unbelievably busy, and I will probably cry and complain and tear my hair and gnash my teeth.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I love this program, ever so much.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Thesis Post-its

I'm circling ever closer to an argument for my thesis, which is encouraging.  I think I'll be able to start writing soon.

Even though I have a full three and a half weeks before I head back to Staunton for the new school year, I'm nothing if not ahead of schedule, always (at the beginning of July, I emailed one of my professors to ask if he thought I'd be able to miss a class at the END OF NOVEMBER to attend a workshop in Des Moines.  He emailed back, slightly incredulous at the amount of warning I was giving him, to let me know that yeah, with four months' notice, he thought we could probably make that work), and so I'm cleaning up and organizing all my things to get ready for the move back to Virginia.  I cleaned out my post-it note graveyard (for three months I've been shoving discarded post-its into the corner of my desk rather than recycle them, because Tim keeps his recycling not conveniently placed next to the desk), and thought I'd share some of the better ones here.

"on actors and the art of acting, 1875 (GHL?)"  This was a book I was trying to track down back in May.  It was not helpful.

"vitiate sententious gallimaufry paucity paean vagacity bowdlerize autochthonus ephemeral inimical"  No idea.  Not a list of words I don't know, because I do know most of these.  Possibly just a list of really great words.

"Macbeth as morality play?"  Still an idea I'm mulling over.  I'm pretty sure this will feature in the body of my paper somewhere.

"Julius Caesar?"  Friends? Romans? Countrymen?  I come not to praise Caesar, but to write his name cryptically on a discarded post-it note.

"Title: the place of early modern drama on the Civil War stages of Richmond"  This is not my title.  This is not even my project.

"Shkspr's virtues extolled.  Find this!!"  I provide this without comment.

Finally, to reinforce my point about being crazy ahead of schedule at all times, I just received an email from my department admin reminding us all that today is the first thesis deadline, and that she needs the names of our committee members from us by the end of the day.  To quote: "I already have Jess Hamlet's.  Everybody else, please make sure to email me by 5pm."  Too right she already has mine.  I emailed them to her in the middle of May.  BAM!  

(Also, I totally have the best committee members.  The.  Best.  Best, as in "coolest," but also best as in "smartest, wisest, most qualified.")