Posts Tagged grad school

Sentimental Realization in the Midst of Academic Research

18 February 2011

Andy has been going in late to work once a week these days so that I can work on my Masters thesis (entitled Birthing Conflict: Childbirth and the Battle of the Sexes in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama) and I have been seriously loving every waking minute I spend working on it!  I go to a coffee shop to work for a couple hours while he has DFD (Daddy Fun Day) at home with the kids.  This week while I was reading some 500-year-old birth stories told by historian David Cressy, I was struck by a sentimental epiphany.  I realized that these women–who lived so very long ago and who lived so differently than I–had labors that sounded just like mine.  And like other birth stories of contemporary women, that I am so fond of reading.  They gave birth just like I did.  It really struck me how cultures and customs change, our attitudes and behaviors toward childbirth change, our birth attendants and medical procedures change, but birth itself does not.  Pure,  natural childbirth is unchanging.  It is a human constant.

This, I find to be very inspiring.  To think that I shared something with women that came before me so very, very long ago.  To think that what I experienced was also experienced by some of the most phenomenal women in history– Catherine Aragon, Anne Boleyn, queens, princesses, wise women, and peasant girls alike.  This is why I get soooooo sentimental at Christmastime.  And why every Christmas play I’ve ever directed has strong moments that linger on the beauty of the bond between Mary and the baby Jesus.  I relish the thought of the mother of Christ sharing in the same emotions and feelings that I did when I birthed my babies.

So that was my epiphany of the week.  Tune in next week for more heart-melting stories from the land of theatre research.


7 October 2010

So yesterday I had my thesis proposal defense meeting. This is really the beginning of the thesis-writing process. I submit a thorough proposal and then I have to meet with a committee of professors (that I chose) and together we all decide if it is solid enough for me to continue. I was really nervous about it, but it all turned out really well. They approved my topic with flying colors and offered me some very valuable insight on how to organize my ideas and write it.

This is actually a huge milestone for me. Even though I still need to write the thing, I didn’t plan to do it before the birth of this child. I really, really, really wanted to just get it proposed and defended. But for a while there during the summer when I felt I was slacking off, I began to doubt myself. I thought I wasn’t working hard enough and it would never be finished on time. My “practice proposal” that I wrote for the first class I took in grad school was nearly 20 pages and very in-depth. This one ended up being only 7. I guess I can chalk it all up to learning better how to work smart, not just hard. I was actually very surprised that my adviser approved the first draft of my proposal that I sent to her. The only glitch in the process has been that my third committee member, a prof I chose from the English department, didn’t show up and has been quite unresponsive. So we are going to try to proceed with a two-person committee. I don’t see how this will be a problem, unless the grad office just doesn’t like change!

My new title is: “Birthing Conflict: Childbirth and the Battle of the Sexes in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama” (it used to be Early Modern English Drama, but this title’s more specific and accurate)

So now I’m going to put it on hold probably so I can focus on getting ready for birth and baby. But I’m actually now really excited to write it. The meeting yesterday was actually a lot of fun, and it felt great to be back in the academic world again. I’m glad this chapter of my life isn’t completely over!

Finishing Strong

2 June 2010

I graduated with my MA in Theatre from Cal State Northridge on May 18th. It was a very exciting time. I won’t officially be done until I write my thesis, but since it is unknown when that will happen, I decided to walk early and celebrate my accomplishment.

This is Dr. Kim, or AJ as we call her. I spoke of her earlier. She is the head of the graduate program and she has been extremely influential and important in my life. Major inspiration. I credit her with nearly all I have become as a scholar and she has also greatly inspired me personally. I could not have gotten through grad school without her. I probably would have never started at all. Here is us at Honors Convocation. I really don’t know how I did it, but I did graduate with honors. This is very difficult for grad students, as the standards are quite high. My final GPA was 3.92. Amazing considering how hard it was for me and how much I grew as a student and scholar.

This is me with my colleague Mary and Dr. John Swain. Dr. Swain is definitely the toughest prof in the department. All of the faculty were challenging, but Swain always had the heaviest workload and had high critical standards. I learned a lot from him. He noticed my honors medallion at graduation and commented about it. That made my day. His giving me a 99 on my final term paper of my graduate career also made my day. I didn’t think he ever gave 99’s to anyone. Mary is a wonderful friend with whom I started this program 4 years ago. In fact, one reason why I really wanted to walk this semester is that many of the students walking were ones I started with, so it was especially meaningful. Mary had to do prerequisites like me (only a lot more) and specializes in children’s theatre, or TYA as we call it. She’s awesome.

There’s a lot I could say about graduation, grad school, scholarship, and my future, but I’ll save the rest for future posts…. or for re-edits later, since I seem prone to do that.

What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

11 April 2010

I had a really awesome heart-to-heart with my advisor a couple weeks ago. This occurred after we mutually decided to postpone my thesis proposal until the fall because of my heavy workload this semester. I don’t know if you all know this, but my advisor, Dr. Kim is probably one of the most influential women in my life ever. Aside from maybe my mother and grandmother. She is amazing in so many ways. But anyway, she encouraged me not to rush and to really make the proposal good. She also encouraged me to be concurrently thinking about what my career plans are for after I finish this degree and really pushed for me to think about a PhD program. This is something I never really intended to do, but it is the focus and “purpose” of our program. I think I never really thought I was smart enough, but she seems to think I would do well. =)

She knows me so well, it’s crazy. It’s true that I don’t really have much direction and I don’t even really know what I’m going to do with this degree. But she encouraged me to take this time to think about it. She said something to the effect of not getting so distracted with a family that I lose sight of my full potential. Now this is a woman who is also a mother and has always been extremely encouraging of my family needs and so inspiring as a mother. She also nursed her child into toddlerhood and encouraged me to do the same even while I was still pregnant. But she doesn’t think I’m the type to “only” do just the mom thing and said that the academic world would be missing out if I abandoned it. It was so encouraging to hear that from her. As much as I respect full-time, stay-at-home-moms, I agree that I’ve never really been that type. Even though I am a SAHM, I always seem to also be doing something else. School, directing a play, both. whatever. So I was very encouraged by her to hear confirmation that perhaps I should continue to pursue my creative/intellectual life while I’m raising kids. Still not sure about the whole PhD thing, but I am newly inspired to make tentative plans for the next few years.

My other reservation is that to me pursuing a doctorate seems to be another postponement or perhaps permanent retirement of my acting career. Not sure that I’m ready for that yet. Maybe because I never really knew I was giving it up? I always thought of myself as just taking a break to have a kid or finish my degree. So am I an artist or an academic? Beats me. I do find myself thinking about directing quite a bit, though. I think this is where my intellectual ideas really flourish. I get tired of writing papers all the time, but I do enjoy the intellectual pursuit of them. Directing is where the actor and the intellectual collide, for me anyway. So maybe I should think more about that. My colleagues at school say there are a few PhD programs out there that have a directing aspect to them. Maybe I ought to check them out.

What are your thoughts, people? What do you think I should do with my life? =) Seriously– I’d love your feedback.