My Road to the Ph.D.: Year One (and a Half)


As of late, my blog has focused on my teaching experience since my return from Indiana, PA this past August.  To say that my work on my doctorate came to halt, however, wouldn’t be a fair assessment despite it having quieted significantly.  I dub this post “Year One (and a Half)” because technically, I began my coursework the summer of 2009 with a transfer course at CCSU that went towards one of my U.S. lit requirements putting me about a year and a half on the clock.

While I only teach three days a week this semester thanks to a very generous division director arranging my course schedule, next semester I move up to teaching four days a week–though no Friday!-)  Although a good deal overall, my commute is a pretty long one.  Typically, I’ll spend anywhere from 90 minutes to a full two hours one way to work.  And then there’s the return trip.  Most people usually grimace at the notion of such a commute, especially since I’m competing with thousands of other cars for space on the highway just 45 minutes or so outside of NYC.  But they don’t have 125-150 books to read (or at least review) before the end of May.  Thank God for books on CD…

To date… I’ve probably taken about 15 books off the list.  Now, granted, that’s maybe a little more than 10% which doesn’t seem like much admittedly.  However, I’d also wager a conservative bet that of the 125-150 books I need to cover, I’ve already read more than 50% of them between my master’s program at CCSU and my ph.d. program at IUP.  So, in many ways, my commute is a guaranteed 10-14 hours of uninterrupted studying each week.  Considering a family and full-time job, that’s not too shabby!

Perhaps what I’m finding most interesting is that my utter dislike for Victorian literature (which continued throughout my MA studies) has lessened quite a bit.  I no longer consider the Bronte sisters mortal enemies nor is Dickens to be shot on sight.  While I can’t say I’ll invite Jane Austen into any further of my free reading sessions, I’m glad to see my taste in reading continues to broaden.  My love of American literature continues to grow as does my general affinity for literature emerging from the fallout of World War II.  It’s still hard to believe I’m making a career out of something I used to consider a leisure activity (obviously, there’s more to it than just reading, but that is near to the heart of the field).

So, this part of the journey is a quiet one while I work through another school year (albeit in a new school) and slowly prepare myself for the gauntlet awaiting me in western Pennsylvania in just a bit less than 7 months from now.  And who would have thought my daily commute would do more than drive me to work each day?

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About fhelvie

I live in CT with my wife and two sons. I am also writing my doctoral dissertation, which is focused on the relationship between American literature and comic book superheroes. I have served as a panelist at a number of conferences discussing my research in comics, medieval literature, and pedagogy. Most recently, I had the good fortune to present at the New York Comic Con. In addition to my work in comics scholarship, I'm also a full-time professor of developmental English.
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