Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing my comprehensive exams (finally!). The writing went really well and now it’s just a matter of the oral defense on November 5th. In the meantime I’ve updated the comprehensive exams page on the site to include the draft questions I submitted to my committee before the exam. The idea is that your committee can either ask you these questions and give you a choice of what to answer, or use these questions as a starting point to draft questions of their own.
Now that the comps process is winding down, I’ll be turning toward my dissertation proposal and designing the archival research that I’m planning in New York in the winter. And hopefully I’ll also have more energy to devote to short writing for the blog.
I’ve finally posted my comprehensive exam readings lists. I’m putting these up because I’ve found other people’s lists enormously helpful in forming my own and I hope this will provide a resource for other students in the Communication and Culture program, and for other students putting together readings lists on cultural studies, communication studies, feminism, queer theory or online media. Assembling a list is a collaborative process, one with other students in your field, in your program, with your committee, and with the authors of the texts you’re reading who have followed citations of their own. In my program we write our formal questions toward the end of the reading process, so I’ll update with those once I’m finished with them.
In addition to my own lists, here are a couple of links to other lists that I’ve found helpful. If you have others, please add links in the comments.
I haven’t updated in a while because I was at CACS in Montreal over the weekend and because I’ve fallen into a dark citational abyss that is preparing my comps readings lists. In my program, there is no set canon of texts from which you are expected to choose; rather you put together your own lists with your supervisor. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of other people’s cultural studies lists online, and talking to as many people as possible about their experiences with this process. It strikes me that, as a process of citation, preparing a comps list is actually a super collaborative process that extends way beyond the student-committee relationship, but for some reason, there aren’t many social or technological mechanisms in place to make this collaboration happen. Sometimes asking people about their comps lists, or to share their comps lists, feels like asking them to do something deeply risky and revelatory, like singing Karaoke in public. One thing that I plan to do other than blog about this process is add a section to this site with links to online comps resources that I’ve found helpful, as well as my own lists (once they’re finished).
My Comps Areas: Major General: Media and Culture (program defined): culture, identity, politics and social life (my addendum) Major Specific: Feminist and Queer Theory (I got to pick this) Minor: Digital and Online Technologies (I sort of got to pick this)
Things I’ve learned in the process so far:
This is much more a process of de-selection than of assemblage.
If you want to stay sane, you can only work on this for two hours a day, max
Advice other people have offered:
Follow the citations to make sure you really cover your field
Don’t follow the citations because you’ll get stuck in a comps hole. Break off key debates instead.
This is going to be the best part of your PhD
This is going to be the worst part of your PhD
Set it up so the finished written product is useful to you
Stay focused by reading to your questions
Think of it as an exercise in relating your own position to a broader field
The most important quality of a good list is that it’s manageable as a project with a specific timeline
Other People’s Lists that I’ve found helpful so far: