My Road to the Ph.D.: Year Two


This past Tuesday I arrived back in Indiana, PA to begin my second summer of doctoral study, and aside from two independent studies I’ll be doing next year, this will pretty close out my time as a student.  Whoa.

I’m not sure anyone will actually recall this from past posts, but Thursday and Friday were the day when I had to take my Ph.D. candidacy exams.  We were required to sit for two 4-hour session in front of a laptop and write 4 essays (of approximately 5-10 pages in length) focused on four periods of literature: Period A (Brit Lit from before 1660), Period B (Brit Lit from 1660-1900), Period C (US Lit up to 1900) and Period D (Literature after 1900).  Further, we had to analyze 3 out 4 of these periods from a different critical theory (Marxism, Feminism, etc), and 2 out of 4 essays required as to also include a pedagogical approach–how we would structure a course based on these sources.  To prepare for this exam, we compiled reading lists of about 120+ books (at least 30 sources per list) so we could draw upon a variety of sources to respond to each set of questions.  A passing score on a response is either a 2 (Pass) or a 3 (High Pass); a 1 results in a failure for that period’s essay response.  Needless to say, the preparation for and the tests themselves were stressful and now, they’re done.  And while I think it would be pretty cool to land a 3 on one or two of my responses, I’m really just hoping I managed to score at least a 2 (pass) on all 4 the first time around.

I’m also ridiculously frustrated over the fact that the one class I was looking forward to this summer (ENG 985: The Evolution of the Graphic Novel) is now going to get cancelled at the last-minute leaving me with “academic leftovers.”  As a result, I’ve decided not to take a class within the Literature and Criticism department (where I’m getting my Ph.D.) and will be taking a Teaching College Writing class from the Composition and TSEOL program–something that will actually end up being FAR more relevant to my day-to-day experiences in the classroom.

And since this post is more a “catch up” for where I am now, I promise my next one to  (hopefully) be a little more interesting.  In fact, I’m working on writing a statement of purpose for why I am pursuing my Ph.D. especially since the degree is (more or less) in a field that I’m not really working in… and I’m not entirely sure I will work in.  So, I’ll see if I can’t get a draft up by the end of the holiday weekend, and  you can let me know what you think.

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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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