This time last year, I was managing the kitchen at a cooperative center in rural Michigan. Most of my days were spent writing recipes, cooking, doing dishes, planning to feed 100+ people during summer camp, and talking to people about the link between food and social justice. I knew I would be starting grad school at UofL in August, but it felt so far away.
A lot has happened since last April. I’ve made new friends. I’ve learned a few things about Shakespeare. I’ve helped UofL students with writing. I’ve been able to add tons of books to my goodreads account.
So what am I working on now, as a second semester English MA student?
I have two end-of-term papers to finish before the end of the month.
One, which is for Dr. Anderson’s course on African American Literature and Environmental Roots, explores Baudrillard’s concepts of simulacra and the hyperreal in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. I might link this to Barthes description of mythology (because I ❤ theory) or (but probably “and”) double-voiced texts. I’m still sorting this one out and doing research to figure out what’s at stake for my argument.
My other paper is for my exotic non-English department class, Philosophy of Science, which is taught by Dr. Guy Dove. For that paper, I am evaluating Philip Kitcher’s essay on scientific reductionism (well, specifically biological antireductionism) by applying it to the move from classical genetics (i.e. Gregor Mendel’s pea plant experiments) to molecular genetics (i.e. most of the stuff done after Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin determined the structure of DNA).
Prepping for a Theory Exam
Dr. Kopelson’s theory class has a final exam in a few weeks (eek) so I am semi-planning for it. Mostly, this means maintaining a Google doc with brief summaries, significant excerpts, and keywords for each theorist. It also means helping plan a pre-exam study session with my theory classmates and making sure someone brings wine.
Writing Center Tutoring
Although you may think I should have figured out how Writing Center tutoring works by now, I haven’t. I still think about ways I can become a more effective and compassionate tutor. For the most part, this “thinking” consists of me dumping my Writing Center-related ideas or problems on Cassie or Bronwyn. In addition to these tutor-centered thoughts, I also think about ways I can help maintain the friendly, supportive environment we have in the Writing Center. My coworkers are great, so this is pretty easy. We do organize events (mostly potlucks) and pranks (e.g. wearing the same color each day of the week when Bronwyn returned from quick trip) from time to time.
Second Year/ Post-MA Planning
Because I’m nearing the end of the first year of my MA, I’m starting to mull over thesis and CP ideas. I came into the program broadly interested in the intersection of science and literature, but I’ve recently been swept away by literary theory (thanks to Professor Kopelson and my theory classmates). Right now, I am trying to figure out a way to link all three.
I am also vaguely working out a plan for what to do after I finish this MA program. Perhaps I will continue onto a PhD program (but in what? And where?).
This is an on-going project …
Kelly Carty is a first-year M.A. student.