The meeting with Kathryn…

The meeting with Kathryn went fine. I mean, sure, I have a hell of a lot of work to do in the next three months if I'm going to actually take my comprehensive exams at the end of April -- but I think it's work I can do. The first thing to do when I get back to Chicago is make a big old chart. The chart will list:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Date published
  • Major characters
  • If it's a critical book, then a few keywords that I can riff off of when they ask me to talk about it. E.g.: For Barthes, I might list: myth, second-order signifier, bourgeous norm, motivated rather than arbitrary. Basically quick reminders.
  • Thesis statement (e.g., a three sentence or so summary of what the book is about, why it's important, what tradition it's working in, etc.
And if I can't do that easily for the books I've already read, I get to skim them again -- and if that's not sufficient, if I still don't really have a clue, then I get to do some cramming in the library, skimming over other critical work, in order to get the gist of what's going on.

In addition, I should have a similar handle on the big lit-crit terms (post-structuralism, new historicism, etc.) and time periods (neo-classical, romantic, modern, etc.)

You can tell that I haven't done this sort of thing in many months, by the fact that I'm actually sort of excited at the prospect of all this work, and eager to get to it.

Right now, though, I need to run off to campus and meet with Vince. We'll see what he has to add to Kathryn's suggestions. Then Paul will pick me up and we might swing by a store or two, then pick up Marcia and go back to their place; we're having a little shindig there with some of the other grad students tonight -- a chance to catch-up and socialize. Fun!

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