Monday, March 28, 2011


So, the man from whom I have been attempting to get some sort of sign that he doesn't think I am a complete idiot (because I hope/fear he will be on my exam and dissertation committees--more fear, at this point) nearly let slip a compliment today when I spoke with him. In response to a question about whether he wanted me to use many secondary sources in the paper I am writing for him, he said “No, you don't need to. If you weren't good at working with theory, it would be tempting to use them [secondary sources] to sort of prop up your argument. For you and your paper, you don't need to bring them in except to support what you're already saying about the texts.” It's not overt or explicit by any means, but I think that means he a) thinks I'm good at working with theory, and b) thinks that my ideas are (somewhat) valid. He even smiled at me and invited me to come in and sit down when I knocked on his door (not his usual response to me knocking on his door). Of course, he could have been speaking in generalities and he could still think I'm an idiot. I prefer the first reading of the conversation, though (for obvious reasons).

Now, no one said being an academic was going to be pretty, but is this really what I'm getting excited about? I don't think I was this pathetic even in high school when the girl I had a crush who sat behind me in chemistry would occasionally condescend to speak to me while we waited for the bus (ah, to be fifteen again, when that meant BEST. DAY. EVER!*). Truly, grad school will do terrible things to a man. The definition a former professor offered to his young son when, upon encountering me sitting at a table outside a cafe doing work (for that professor's class, I might add), the toddler asked “what's a grad student?”--“Someone who really likes punishment"--seems more apt every day.

*I hated being fifteen. I don't ever want to be anything like being fifteen again. Or sixteen. Or really, most ages up to about what I am now.


  1. Made me chuckle. You ARE good at theory! How many times do I have to tell you?! (Although of course, me saying it 1210 times doesn't equal half of him even suggesting it once . . . . )

  2. Well it sounds like to me that you had the right interpretation of events which I think should be especially heartwarming since it sounds to me like this prof is someone who thinks everyone not himself is at least mostly an idiot.