Saturday, May 2, 2009


Claire has sufficiently shamed me into a new post, even though (I promise!) I'd been meaning to get around to it since, as she pointed out, it has been a month.

I passed my written and oral defenses over a week ago. Overall, they went fairly well. I had a written slide exam, with 4 minutes each to identify and discuss 15 images and 10 minutes each for another 3. The only thing that worried me after completing it was if I had, in such a short time, provided the information my adviser would be looking for in my answers, as I generally didn't have time to write down everything I knew about any given image. We discussed my exam at a dinner party later that week, and she laughed about how she'd had fun making up the exam, including several controversial or curious images, that we'd discussed in several contexts, just to see what I'd say about them. (One of them was the Cave of Pan, which is the alternate site for the temple Herod built to Augustus προς Paneion, as opposed to Omrit. I skirted the issue by talking about the cave itself, rather than any temple that may or may not have been there...) She further observed upon looking at my exam that I had taken it a bit more seriously in the writing than she did in the grading.

My oral exam was more pleasant, mainly casual discussion about both my Herod paper and an earlier version of my beads paper, which is still very much a work in progress. My committee members asked me some questions, some of which I had never considered an answer to or was completely ignorant of, but that was ok. My advisor was glowing in praise of my work, suggesting that I consider working up a version of Herod for an article in Near Eastern Archaeology (a semi-scholarly journal), although the two others were less effervescent, I suppose. They sent me out of the room for about five minutes, brought me back in, said cursory congratulations, and left. It was rather anticlimactic, as I found myself gathering up my things in the emptied room, looking around, not sure what to do next. Didn't anyone want to take me out for a drink???

Silly me, I had expected it to be more like my Honors project defense when heaps of laud and praise would be poured over my head as a slave (in the form of Rosamund Rodman) sat behind me saying "Remember you are only a man" (and God is not gendered). Even my current advisor is usually very complementary, but no real support or encouragement from my other committee members. I suppose, in reality, the goal of my time at Minnesota was not to complete a Master's degree, although that was a necessary by-product of the actual goal, which was to get into a program like Michigan. So the real triumph of my education here occured a month ago, and my defense was of course anticlimactic.

I've had a difficult time keeping motivation and spirits up post-defense, so I have taken today off completely from work and school. Oddly, when I woke up this morning, I was possessed by a desire to catch up on the pile of journals and articles that have been sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be read, for months. On my day off, what I wanted to do more than anything, was read archaeological articles. So I did (in between making blueberry muffins and reading the New York Times). And I remembered: I really, really, really love my field, and I am proud and excited to be a part of it. One day, I'll have articles in these journals, and they'll review my books, and I'll have an array of issues lined up on the floor to ceiling bookshelves of my tenure-track office.

20 days to Israel.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Kate! I would have loved to have been there to take you out for a drink. And when those books of yours are published? Well, I don't promise to read every word. But I will hit it with my best shot. Probably won't see you before you go to Isreal. Are you going to post an itinerary for when you get back? I'll look for that.