Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Fortnightly marathons...


I just finished another fortnightly marathon. That's what I'm calling these mini-deadlines for my PhD supervisor. I get to meet with her every two weeks or so, and in between she gives me work to do and hand in to her before the next meeting. For the first few months, these marathons were easy-peasy. In fact, I sort of wondered what other PhD students were complaining about, I seemed to be managing to work through it all quite easy. The last couple of months have brought a renewed understanding of why doing a PhD is a full time job!

I enjoy it, I really do, but some days when I go downstairs to meet the Grumpy Old Man in the carpark, I feel like I couldn't possibly get any more information inside my brain. These past few months I've been doing a crash course in identity theory and the Icelandic sagas. Every time I open a new article I feel as if I fall through the looking glass into a new topsy-turvy world of jargon. Then after a few days immersed in that world, I start to assimilate what I've been exposed to, and then I inevitably stumble on a new door behind which there is a new looking glass and a new topsy-turvy world to adjust to.

Sometimes I get completely waylaid by a topic only tangenitally associated with my topic, but it's all so fascinating. I spent several hour on Monday reading all about Loki from old Norse Mythology. I had grown up hearing about Loki, but I have to admit I did not know the sagas which he is involved in. I still don't know them, but now, at least, I have a better - if somewhat shallow - understanding of the role he played in the sagas.

I've already lost track of how many articles I have read, and which of those I have referenced. It is all a blur, so tomorrow I'm going to add them all into Endnote online so I have some sort of overview, but most importantly, so I don't lose track of some important authors!

I'm getting close to the colloquium now. I don't think about it much because it makes me very nervous. I feel as if the information is all still so new. It's a bit like that icebreaker game hosts make you play at conferences where you have to learn the name of the strangers at your table and some basic facts about them and then you are asked to introduce them to everyone else at the conference. Holding all those facts and names in your head, when you haven't had much opportunity to making a meaningful connection feels almost impossible. At the colloquium, I'll be asked to introduce the panel to the relevant authors and the work they've done when I've only just gotten to know them myself. I can see I'll be doing a lot more reading in the next couple of weeks just to get all this information clear in my head. A mind map might be in order!

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Good Job!