Last summer, Amanda organized a “back-to-school” series for students and professors preparing for fall semester. My post, which you can find here, spoke to my planning process and included a few tips on resources that graduate students can take advantage of. I thought that sharing a portion of my semester review process might be helpful to readers.
Well, if nothing else, I can say that I made it through. It turns out I was far too optimistic about what I could accomplish realistically. I took introductory courses on Latin America and “masculinities of men of color.” Despite how much I enjoyed each class, both kicked my rear end. I struggled to pick up an entire new section of historiography, both geographically and thematically. I didn’t think enough about how difficult it would be to learn so much new information in one semester. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it either, if they can help it, unless they have more time to devote to completing large outside reading lists. Despite these frustrations, I now have half of a dissertation chapter, half of the books for my Latin American history comprehensive exam, and the seedling of a publishable article on masculinity, gender, and civil rights. The coursework forced me to stretch in positive ways, but I’m looking forward to a semester with courses addressing themes with which I am already familiar.
My assignment as a TA ended up being quite manageable. I plan on crafting a quiz on the syllabus that’s worth more points than last semester and limiting the amount of late work I’ll accept. I also added a few documentaries for smaller chunks of extra credit, including Slavery by Another Name and 13th.
I presented at AAR and attended WHA, both of which were excellent experiences. I was very nervous to present at AAR, but received positive feedback on my paper and presentation. I hope that landing my first national conference presentation will help me find acceptance in other national conferences. WHA gave me the opportunity to attend an excellent conference without the stress of presenting a paper. Attending without presenting also gave me a chance to look at how conferences are run and how to better incorporate graduate students into conferences like MHA. I enjoyed myself so much that I submitted a paper for next year’s conference.
I did not exercise or eat well enough last semester. That’s top on my priority list for the coming term. Only needing to be on campus for class two days a week, instead of four, will be a major help.
The papers I produced in two classes (men of color masculinities and a research seminar on American religion) will become articles in the future. The historiographical essays I wrote in m Latin America course will go towards crafting a syllabus on Capitalism in the Americas.
I’ll be taking three courses, Modern Latin America, African-American Religion, and African-American History. All three classes will be classes that require historiographical essays (which I don’t *love* writing but are needed to better understand the development of historical fields). I have my book lists and have begun to read for my African-American religion course. Special thanks to the professor who is willing to guide my readings for my religion course.
My TA responsibilities will be for the online class, again. I’m not too worried about keeping things under control this semester because I feel much more confident about running the course this time around.
I am on the committee for the 2017 Faith and Knowledge Conference in February, but don’t have any other conference preparation to do for the semester. However, I do plan on submitting to several conferences and funding opportunities. I’ve blocked out some time every two weeks to write, revise, and submit to these opportunities.
I will continue working for a professor at the University of Virginia and for a professor at the University of Utah.
I’ll be studying full-time for comprehensive exams from May-December, with the goal of finishing up before next Christmas. I’m fortunate enough to have received a fellowship at my university that doesn’t require that I teach this fall. I have my booklists and I’m ready to dive in! I’ve also created a reading group with members of my cohort so that the preparation won’t be as isolating as it could be. I will also be taking new research jobs for professors across the country.
What did you do last semester that you’re going to improve? What do you do to prepare for the semester?