Tag Archives: PhD

déjà vu all over again

hello AMB readers! when we spoke last, it was all about Stravinsky with no sort of real discussion as to what was going on with me (i know you’re all so interested…) so i think it’s back to basics around here, today being the first day in MONTHS that my head has been above water, figuratively, of course.

this post relates to this very recent change in my life and something that’s been on my mind, at least for the last fifteen hours or so. after a really tough decision between Duke and Oxford, i decided to finish my PhD at Duke & i’ve been very happy here. the program has been exactly what i needed & i feel completely rejuvenated not to mention the fact that it’s been bound up with some very busy months for me. i wouldn’t classify where i am as completely starting over but it’s definitely not where i left off at Columbia, and i’ve made my peace with that. but there’s one thing i haven’t made peace with & i’m not sure that i ever will.

for all intents and purposes, i am a first year at Duke. but i am not a “first year.” 

that first year in quotes denotes a certain type of person who, usually, is at a certain place in their life and knows nothing about the ways of graduate school. (and yes i know this is a generalization, many people start a PhD at various places in their lives with varying life & school experiences) and when people who i do not know meet me and find out that i’m a “first year,” i get all of the typical first year questions: “how do you like graduate school?” “what are you working on?” “what’s your cohort like” all with an implication that is reflected vocally that we’re your elders and know the game and welcome to our world. well, that’s not me & i don’t want to be treated as such. now, i don’t hold it against those people for talking to me in such a way (not a lot), but i feel badly that i feel that i have to correct them, that i have to say, “well, i actually was in the PhD program at Columbia for three years & left to come to Duke.” because that whole sentence sounds so entitled. but it’s really not why i say it.

those three years were a struggle as anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows and i don’t want that time to be white-washed away because i’m now at Duke. i did coursework, got a degree, and took my comps. i TAed and taught my own classes. and all of that is really important to me. it doesn’t just disappear. 

so yes, i have to do a lot of that over again and yes, to a degree, it sucks (mainly time-wise, i think i’m doing all of it better the second time around) and i have no problem identifying myself thusly. but please understand that if i do mention my years at Columbia it’s because they still have some meaning. and also that i’m no spring chicken — i’m almost 30 with a dissertation on the horizon.

there’s a lot in my rear view mirror.

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return of the mack

hi internet. you’ve probably forgotten about me. in that case, let me re-introduce myself: hi, my name’s imani and i’m a recovering academic.

a lot has happened since i wrote here last. the two subjects of my penultimate post are both dead (and very recently so) and my status, for the time being, has changed. i’m leaving Columbia and applying to new PhD programs in the hopes that i’ll land somewhere in the fall. i’ll be spending the next six months or so in the real world (something i’m actually looking forward to), saving up money for my next grand adventure whatever that may be. i’ve given a few papers, attended a few conferences, taught a handful of classes and learned more than i had ever bargained for — a lot about myself, especially.

so what brings me back here? well…while attending the behemoth that was Alphabet Soup, er, i mean AMS/SMT/SEM 2012 in New Orleans a month and a half ago, i met up with Ryan Bañagale (of Amusicology fame and all around awesome musicologist) and we talked about social media among other things. i talked about my blog to which he actually said that he missed it. (you know i thought no one ever read this…a vain naïveté, i know but who cares?) sometime later, i realized that my tiny little voice was an important one for a whole host of reasons. while my journey is uniquely my own, a lot of people can identify with it (or at least parts of it) and it’s always been important to me to document my struggle.

(don’t worry Ryan, i still want to write for Amusicology!)

so here i am! granted, i won’t have that much to talk about in the upcoming months … actually, strike that. there’s the application process, the admissions and failures, and the life of a (hopefully) temporary independent scholar. plus, as we all know (though i think sometimes we need reminding) being out of school does not make me — or anyone else — less of a musicologist.

i’d like to think now that i’d have the time to devote myself to a different type of writing but we shall see. plus, i have *other* things to do. that means: go check out my Tumblr devoted to the Britten Centenary (and my place within it) A Birthday Hansel; it’s great fun and is a little less about me and my thoughts which is always nice.

so go, tell your friends and i’ll do my best to hold up my end of the bargain this time.

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