Spring Quarter 2007 and beyond…
Spring quarter was supposed to be less busy than then other two quarters but really it wasn’t. I took one seminar called Performance and Performativity in Geography of all places. The professor seems to be interested in a lot of the same things as me—technology, surveillance and performance. I asked him to be on my dissertation committee so it was lucky I found him. He’s really laid back, didn’t make us write a paper (!) but the reading was pretty extensive. He must be a bit nuts, though, because he is bi-coastal and spends half the week in LA and the other half in NY during the quarter. Crazy.
I also took another seminar, Intercultural Performance, that basically repeated a lot of the stuff I’ve learned already. This was given by the same prof. that I had to take in Winter 2006, so it was a ton of work, boring and very little class discussion. We did have a paper to turn in and I must admit that I really half-assed it, and my grade reflected that. Oh well, it was my last seminar I have to take and I will still finish UCLA with a 3.93 GPA. Not that GPA matters at this level.
I think the seminar that I taught for the GE Cluster program went pretty well. The focus was on Experimental Theatre in U.S. in the last 30 years, though we did a couple of international things and did some background on the avant-garde and Brecht. For the most part, the first two hours of class centered on viewings and discussions and the last 45 minutes or hour we did some sort of theatre exercise (it was a 3-hour class that met once a week). Truthfully thought, I still have a lot to learn about teaching.
Unfortunately, I have to work with this same cluster next year. I was hoping to get a different assignment, but I was stuck with doing this one again. However, I think I will be head TF, which means I only have to have 1 discussion section and I get to do all of the organizing. We’ll see how that goes. I’m also going to create a completely different topic and syllabus for the spring seminar so that I can demonstrate my knowledge in different areas when I’m looking for a job.
Oh, I almost forgot Spanish. I took Spanish level 3 through UCLA extension. It met every Saturday from 9-1. The first few weeks were really difficult because I hadn’t taken level 2 since high school, and I did not do very well in it then. But I worked my butt off to get caught up and I ended up doing pretty well.
What was nice about this quarter was that I got a lot of encouragement and indications that there is support for, and interest in, my work. First, I was selected to go to a writing retreat hosted by the UC Multi-campus Research Group in International Performance and Culture. Next, my advisor selected me to receive a monetary award given by the department for excellence in Critical Studies. And finally, UCLA awarded me a Graduate Student Summer Research Mentorship. This is a grant that allows me to focus this summer on developing an article to be published and/or presented at a conference. I’m supposed to work closely with my advisor on this, which thankfully we can do by email. Fortunately, my paper has been accepted to be presented at ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research) this November so I will be able to fulfill the Mentorship obligation. Also, they will reimburse me for my travel expenses!!
The quarter ended with the writing retreat at UC Davis. There were 11 PhD students and 4 professors and each student turned in a paper in May that we all had to read. We were there from Sunday evening to Thursday morning and we worked really hard the entire time. Each student had a 45 minute session devoted to his/her paper, plus twice we broke off into small discussion groups where we had another 20-30 minutes devoted to our work. It was exhausting but I got a lot of good feedback and ideas on my paper (the one about Super Vision) so I know exactly what I need to work on this summer.
For the summer I plan to work more on my paper to have it ready to present in November, but my advisor wants me to start focusing on my prospectus. Yes folks, it’s finally dissertation time. Here’s how it works in my program: first, I choose three areas of specialty that I’ll need to be an “expert” in before I can write the dissertation. In conjunction with my committee members I create a bibliography of 25 books/articles in each area. Meanwhile, I write a 25-30 page prospectus in which I propose my topic and justify how each area is necessary to write my dissertation. My qualifying exams will be based on the bibliography and, to some extent, the prospectus. Once I pass my exams I can really begin the hard work. Yikes! As of now, my three areas are: new media/place & space, performance theory, U.S. experimental theatre (20th-21st century).
I had hoped to take my exams at the end of the winter quarter, but I have to finish my language requirement (which means passing level 5) beforehand. Unfortunately, the Spanish level 4 class I registered for during the summer was canceled and I couldn’t find anywhere else to take the class. It’s possible that I can test into level 5 for the fall, but if I can’t then I won’t be able to take it until winter, meaning I can’t take my exams until spring quarter. Not the worst thing in the world.
Okay, I think I’m all caught up now! I’ll try to be better about blogging in the coming year.