Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reclaiming

I have been feeling super guilty for neglecting to update this blog for so long, so I'm gonna be honest with y'all here and tell you straight up what the deal is with my thesis. I want to preface this by saying that I've been pretty tight lipped for a number of reasons regarding my thesis, but I think it's time now to just be up front.

First of all, yes, I am still working on my thesis, and it is still dealing with the history of the chemise a la reine. Yes, I still do intend to publish my research. So that's all great. However...

Things have been really complicated for me with regards to my thesis committee. I'm not pleased with the administration right now, because after four years, I should have been long graduated from this program, and yet... Here I am. Rest assured I have been working with the administration on an exit strategy, but one road block after another has come up in a seemingly endless supply. The most recent is my thesis chair is apparently abdicating from the position, leaving me without someone to take administrative responsibility for my thesis. This is complicated by the fact that there are currently no full time faculty members in my department who specialize in the 18th century. When I began this journey into 18th century art history, there was a single professor in the department, who absolutely refused to work with me and then quit to go back to school for another degree. The department encouraged me, nonetheless, to pursue the 18th century and assured me that something would work out. Another 18th c.-focused professor was hired a year later, but no position was available for her on a continuing basis, so she too left (or really, was left by the department). Again, I was reassured that things would work out and I should just keep focusing on my research.

Now, two years after I announced my intention to write my thesis on the topic of the chemise a la reine, I am without a committee... AGAIN. I am pretty certain I am the orphan grad student in the program who no one wants to take responsibility for.  Well, except for Dr. J and Dr. R who have both thrown themselves into getting me the hell out of this program with a degree, but who for one reason or another, cannot be my thesis chair. So, without the thesis chair position filled, I am, well, fucked. It's making me wish I had stuck with 16th c. English portraiture like I originally thought I was going to write my thesis on when I started grad school, lo those many years ago. Or writing it on 21st century corporate art. Because no one at San Jose State loves the eighteenth century as much as I do, and I'm in way too far with my research now to start over, and fuck it. I want to write this thesis and to hell with everything.

Sorry for all the f-bombs. I'm fed up with my program (everything I've written above is only the tip of the iceberg and only told in the most general terms... There's just so much more insanity to the story beyond this, that I can't even), and it has made me so apathetic about my research that I can barely bring myself to work on this thing I'm calling my thesis but who the hell knows if that's what it actually is. In fact, I'm posting on this blog right now rather than open up the research folder and work on it, because there's a part of me that has been kicked back so many times that I don't know what I'm doing any more.

Apathy, I haz it. Also, anger and frustration. In spades. So, if that's why I smile through gritted teeth and tell you that I don't want to talk about it when you ask how grad school is going, you know now. And at any rate, if you did somehow get me to talk about it, it just be a string of incoherent profanity spewing forth, so it's not like there's much to tell. The research itself, however, is something I love deeply and want to share with everyone. I need to focus on that. So, I beg your patience while I figure out how to reclaim my passion.

5 comments:

  1. I feel for you Sarah. I'd see if I could move everything over to another University that can accept your course of study for your thesis through your present university, since they don't have the ability to adjudicate your thesis. If you can moved credits over to another university, then you should be able to do the same for a committee to hear your research. Don't know if this is possible, but no harm trying. You might be able to bring up your dilemma to the president of the university for a solution, then onto the Board of Trustees. One way or another your problem should be solved ASAP from the higher ups.

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    1. I have definitely thought of taking my research and shopping it around to other programs but the problem with that is it will still delay my graduation by another year. Right now I'm seriously up to my eyeballs in student loan debt so another year of coursework is really not a good idea. Might as well just stick with the evil I know!

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  2. Ooooh dear. San Jose State has special ways of keeping people from graduating. The art department in particular is very disorganized! I'm glad you have champions, but I also feel your pain. I had a helluva lot of trouble getting fully clear of SJSU as well, and for smaller reasons than you are facing (miscommunication between school of art & design and the main administration). I wish you the best of luck! Being a loudly squeaking wheel helps with that particular institution.

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    1. Sigh, yeah. Of all the great things about the school, they seem to really have an institution-wide problem with graduating people. I'm just so beat down right now that it's hard to continue squeaking, but then i look at my student debt and I go back to making noise. I am nothing if not stubborn!

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  3. That totally sucks. The CSU at Moss Landing also seems to have a problem getting people graduated and having faculty that can be thesis chairs. It is absurd that these schools can have graduate faculty that cannot be committee chairs. When I interviewed there I had someone offer to be my chair while I worked in the lab of someone who couldn't, so I'd hope the same thing would be possible at SJSU, since they are in the same system.

    I did my thesis at SFSU (and in biology so it might be different) but I was able to have out-of-state faculty on my committee. Is there anyone willing to be your chair who has a different specialty? What if in addition to the two people at SJSU that seem to be on your side there was an 18th c. specialist willing to sign off on your thesis? That way whoever agreed to be your chair could be assurred there was adequate review of your work and be willing to sign off?

    If you have other people advising you it probably isn't much more work than reading a couple of drafts and signing off on your paperwork. In science professors are always listing their graduated advisees (especially if they have publications or do something fancy afterwards), is it different in the humanities? Doesn't it look good for people to chair student committees in art history?

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