There are a lot of examinations while earning a PhD. Many line up with major milestones of the degree. In general, these are: comprehensive exams, preliminary exams, and a thesis defense.
Of those, the defense was the most emotionally and mentally challenging.
The reasons why are summarized nicely in a blog post by Albert Kuo. Giving a public presentation, not wanting to disappoint anyone (especially your dissertation chair), and the unknowns of the closed-door session are all extremely anxiety-inducing.
In this week’s post, I’m revisiting that harrowing time in the hopes that it will help others going into this process for the first time.
Last year I summarized the highs (and lows) of the annual joint meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). I figured, why not do it again?
I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that this year’s meeting did not proceed without incident.
Most egregious, I think, was when it was brought to everyone’s attention that the title of one paper was both inappropriate and wholly unprofessional in its exposure and trivializing of a student’s mental health issues. The matter was seemingly quickly resolved, with a change in the paper’s title and an apology issued by the presenter.
I think the issue raises three larger problems, however:
Why would anyone think that such an approach would be appropriate?
How the heck did a paper with such a title and premise get accepted in the first place?
When will our relationships with our students be such that making light of serious issues in conference papers and on social media becomes far less commonplace?
I’m not going to go into any of these points, but they’re just things that have been on my mind since it blew up on Twitter.
Instead, this post will focus more on the highlights of the conference for me. It will also include a list of sessions that I wish I’d had the time or energy to attend while the conference was happening.
Honestly, I don’t know what’s more exhausting: physically running between rooms in a conference hall or the mental effort it takes to shift from Zoom session to Zoom session. Right now, I’m sensing it’s the latter.
You may sense a theme in the talks and sessions that I managed to make it to (and even some of the ones I’m planning to watch later). Sorry not sorry.
I think we can all agree that this year was not all that much better than 2020. I don’t know if anyone expected it to be better. But I feel like the vibes were pretty much the same, even though starting this blog gave me some hope that things would change.
As always, however, many people have tried to look on the bright side of things.
They’ve sought the light in the almost overwhelming darkness.
I think in particular of one thread going around last week that asked people to share their 3 biggest accomplishments of the year:
A lot of people made light of this – and that’s understandable. Sometimes the only way to get through the hard things is to find a way to laugh about it.
But I think it’s good to stop sometimes and really appreciate the wins, no matter how big or small.
I struggle with doing this myself, and thought that a little celebratory post was in order here. And what, exactly, am I celebrating?
The one year anniversary of this little blog.
If you listened to the podcast episode I was featured on last week, then you’ll know that I started Notes from the Apotheke exactly one year ago.