Okay, let's see if we can get through Saturday with as much aplomb and braininess as Friday!

While the food at the conference was good, the breakfasts left something to be desired -- I mean, it was a decent spread, fruit and cereal and muffins and such, but there was no real comfortable place to sit down and eat it, and it was in the same room as the vendors which made me feel rather shy of going in and being watched while I picked out a muffin. Plus I was craving a hot breakfast on Saturday, so I left my room early and walked down to, yes, the TRIPLE XXX FAMILY RESTAURANT and had pancakes and sausage. Their burgers are better, but the pancakes are nothing to be ashamed of.

And then I went to the first panel!

First Session: Games and Memes )

Second Session: Lolcats! )

Third Session: Digital Journals, Early Exit )

Fourth Session, Web 2.0 and interconnectedness )

Fifth Session: Twitter and Doctor Who )

And that pretty much concludes my notes on Computers & Writing 2010. I had to take off early on Sunday morning, so I missed the Sunday sessions, and I have posted about my lolarious encounters at the Hogroast elsewhere.

I'm glad I went, and I think it was money well-spent. If I attend next year there will be some things I change, I think, based on where it is (I didn't realise it moves around from year to year) but the annoyances were minor compared to the payoff. I have a lot to chew over, and I hope you guys have enjoyed my notes. :)
I finally sat down with my notes from the conference and went through them today, because I wanted to be a little more coherent about everything than I could while I was actually in the conference. Ironically, I took longhand notes; I think I was about the only person doing it, but I've developed a very specific method of note-taking over the years and it requires not only unlined paper but the freedom to skip around and draw diagrams and columns if I need to.

Re-reading my notes and providing context turned out to take a really long time and a whole lot of words, so I'm kind of breaking it up a bit; I managed to get through Friday today, and I'll probably work on Saturday tomorrow. I did want to talk about some themes that leapt out at me, because while I can't be sure they were themes for the conference they did tend to stretch over the sessions I attended:

-- Print media versus online media. Print media is seen as much more legitimate, for a number of good and bad reasons; this isn't a conscious critical analysis people make, but a very deeply ingrained assumption they have. There's no anti-online-media sentiment to it, precisely, but simply the unconscious privileging of print over digital.

-- Digital structures influence behaviour. This gets a bit into territory where a lot of people roll their eyes, but I think it's legitimate. The wording and structure of websites and programs encourages certain kinds of behaviour, with both positive and negative results.

-- Single and multiple-author modes. There was a strong sentiment among the presenters that the concept of a Single "Solitary Genius" Author is on its way out. Authors who do work alone (for a given value of "alone" that includes research materials and the usual peer input) are seen as either being more accessible or having to be more accessible in order to continue to function in modern scholarship and publishing. Academia seems more interested in multiple-author works like Wikipedia and collaborative storytelling similar to what happens in online RPGs and MMORGs. There's a hint of "omg a meme!" to this as well, in the study of how viral media is spread through internet culture.

All of these things visibly impact the work that I'm doing. I do unconsciously place more value on print media, because I charge for it, whereas most of my digital texts are cheap or free, especially the early drafts. I've also talked a lot with people about how to recreate my process -- heavy reader participation and peer review -- which somewhat falls under the heading of digital structure, since the Livejournal format is one of the few where it could really work. And of course multiple-author modes are of interest to me because I don't create in a vacuum, I don't even pretend to; user input has been vital in making my work what it is, but dealing with that and uniting multiple users under a single guiding artistic voice is both complex and worthy of study. Intriguingly, the latter is something people have really neglected to talk about, perhaps because it's not very widely used -- places like Wikipedia have moderators and super-active users, but there is no single guiding hand for any given area, nothing to discern value in multiple threads and unite it into a coherent whole, which is kind of what I do with my work. You can argue all you like, but in the Samipedia, I decide who lives and dies what goes in the final cut.

The conference properly opened on Thursday with workshops and the Graduate Research Network, which I didn't attend; I knew I'd be getting in late on Wednesday night, so I didn't bother signing up. I did hang out with the GRN folks for a while at breakfast, because otherwise there was nowhere to sit -- meals were included with the conference, but breakfast was a kind of continental buffet affair, and they didn't really set up seating for it. I met some nice people, teachers mostly, and then when the GRN was starting I quietly left and went on walkabout for the day.

Friday morning: Town Hall and Low Attendance. )

First Panel: Legitimate Media and Digital Structures, part one )

Second Panel: Digital Archives and Unbooks/Extribulum )

Third Panel: Lots Of Fannish Scholarship )

So, to sum Friday up: Intense, informative, and occasionally difficult, but very satisfying. There was definitely some "settling in" for me on Friday -- relearning how to take concise notes, how to listen to scholarly work, and how to deal with both bad performances and self-absorbed audiences.
My graduate mentor just got a job on the faculty of a Prestigious University with a Very Cool Doctoral Theatre Programme.

And casually emailed me to say she thought I should maybe look into applying for a Ph.D.

Holy fucking shit.

On the one hand, I don't think a doctoral program would take me with so little external experience, and I'm not sure I really want to be in student loan debt for the rest of my actual life.

On the other hand, you know what I love? LEARNING. And you know where learning happens? AT SCHOOL*. And you know what a Doctoral programme is? FOR GREAT LEARNING OF YAY.

* Okay, not just at school, but you only get paid to spend all day learning at school.

On the third hand (stfu) it would mean leaving Chicago relatively soon after arriving, and I invested a lot of time and money in Arriving. On that same hand (but different fingers) I could delay applying for a year, which would give me two years in Chicago, which is a decent amount of time.

But mostly, on all hands and fingers thereof, I'm just happy that Professor of Awesomeness has a good job, and that her first thought on joining a doctoral faculty was that she should email me and see if I wanted to join her.
LONDON (Reuters) - One of Britain's most prestigious art galleries put a block of slate on display, topped by a small piece of wood, in the mistaken belief it was a work of art. The Royal Academy included the chunk of stone and the small bone-shaped wooden stick in its summer exhibition in London. But the slate was actually a plinth -- a slab on which a pedestal is placed -- and the stick was designed to prop up a sculpture.

So I thought this was the bad part. And then I read on.

The sculpture itself -- of a human head -- was nowhere to be seen. The academy explained the error by saying the plinth and the head were sent to the exhibitors separately. "Given their separate submission, the two parts were judged independently," it said in a statement. "The head was rejected. The base was thought to have merit and accepted."

Okay, seriously, I thought I should just put that last sentence in bold and leave it be. The base had more merit than the head. Ouch, right? Stupid mistake, right? But wait for it.

"The head has been safely stored ready to be collected by the artist," it added. "It is accepted that works may not be displayed in the way that the artist might have intended."

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Their head of PR must be wetting himself with laughter at his own cleverness.
Lots of thoughts this morning, mainly disorganised, but that's the great thing about keeping a livejournal -- you have the perfect excuse to write them all down and get them straight. I mean I could anyway, I suppose, but I wouldn't feel as though it was time well spent. It's not, really, but it feels more like it, because I have a place to put them when I'm done.

It occurred to me in the shower this morning that my MA was worth my time, more than I actually realised when I was doing it. In a general sense, and also in a specific thesis-based sense.

For me, at the time I was doing it, it was challenging but not "hard" -- difficult, and involving a lot of thinking, but I was within a structure that had safeties built into it, and I had only to do what was required of me to pass. Writing the thesis wasn't some kind of grand effort, though it took a lot of work. It was a process, a series of small steps, and one that I just...went ahead and did. But to the outside world, an advanced degree means something, a thesis means something -- it means you were given something tremendous to do, spanning several years, and you accomplished it. That's proof of something which is very hard to prove: that one is capable of hanging in there and getting the job done.

I suppose LC exists in that way as well. There were times when I thought I'd never finish book two, but finishing two books out of six extant is no mean task. I still doubt if I'll manage all seven, since the longer an AU goes on the further it diverges from canon (by necessity, otherwise you're just vomiting canon back up) and that makes it harder -- I used to be able to toss off a chapter in about two days, and now it takes two weeks. But I'm willing to make a go of all seven, and we'll see how far I get.

In the specific sense, returning to academia, I'm pleased and slightly surprised at what an excellent choice I made with regards to thesis topics. My topic -- masks -- was engaging for me to work on, and I had a lot of fun doing the research. But it was also a good decision because people on the whole are interested in masks and very few know very much about them. Which was kind of part of the point of my thesis, actually. But it was a good PR move because "masks" as a talking point is a good one: people want to ask questions, and because people generally don't know much about them it's very easy to sound knowledgeable. Which I am, I mean I did the work, but it's not always easy to seem that way.

So. No real point to any of that, except perhaps to encourage people in Master's programs to keep plugging away. :D
I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the Arts and Sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard's future.

http://www.president.harvard.edu/speeches/2006/0221_summers.html

Jesus, no wonder he's stepping down as Harvard's president. Could he possible be less concise or coherent? Did he seriously use the word infeasible when the word "difficult" would do? And has nobody taught his speechwriter that "agenda" these days carries some incredibly negative connotations?

I know there was a flap over his remarks about women and the sciences a while back -- women (rightfully) were incredibly offended that he actually appeared to believe that females can't do math, while free-speech advocates were antsy that he wasn't being allowed to express an opinion. I personally thought that he could express his opinions all he damn well wanted but it was ridiculously unwise to keep him on as President if he actually believed something so stupid and backwards.

I mean that's a prime display of a really remarkable lack of critical thinking ability. A University president believing that women are genetically disadvantaged in the sciences is a little bit like the head of the NAACP believing that the poor are "really just lazy". There's a fundamental conflict of interest there.
Lots of awesome thinky went on in that last post about Christmas.I'm always amused that even when I'm not angling to get information, Iend up having my navel-contemplating questions answered. I haveharnessed THE POWAR OF THE INTARWEB!

Ahem. Yes. And with greatpower, as the philosopher Stan Lee tells us, comes greatresponsibility. Therefore I share with you the collection of "PopChristmas: Where It Came From" links that I amassed.

Websites: How Christmas Works. 'ware of popup ads. A lot of it is history that I knew, but there was definitely some new stuff and for people who haven't studied Classics and paganism for a decade it's very helpful. Also A History of Christmaswhich again is fairly general information but pretty concise. (As withall websites and many television documentaries, caveat emptor; rememberto look for sources cited.) Thanks [profile] queenlily and [personal profile] quean_of_swords.

[profile] garlandgraves points out Christmas: A Social Historyby Mark Connelly - "This is probably not cynical enough for you, but itdoes examine the development of the Victorian traditions of Christmasand the way they related to already-ingrained cultural attitudes. Andit apparently includes eight illustrated plates." and Unwrapping Christmas,ed. Daniel Miller - "this is closer to what you're looking for, Isuspect, though it's not a unified theory of Christmas so much as acollection of essays."

[personal profile] stvincent suggests the first story from Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors for a different take....

[profile] missfarenheit recc'd The Pogues' Fairytale of New York as a good "new" Christmas classic, but I have to say though I love the Pogues I wasn't that impressed with it. Then again, as [personal profile] setissma and [personal profile] dopplegl will tell you, I'm weird about music.

The aptly named Steven Nissenbaum has written The Battle For Christmas, which has a very cool cover, and was recc'd by [personal profile] calliope_jones.

[personal profile] sgt_majorettepoints out that the History Channel is running a history of earlyChristmas in America, but as I couldn't find the specific show I amsettling for a Schedule of Christmas Programming on the History channel.
You know what I'd like to read? A history of Christmas.

Not the roots of Christmas, I'm well aware of those both Christian and Pre-Christian, but rather a history of Christmas as it is now. The pop ideal, if you will, as a sort of bizarre semi-secularised holiday rife with ideals and expected traditions. (Yes, this goes back to my Samx rebellion). Not to accuse people of not celebrating the spirit or anything; I know many people view Christmas in a deeply religious light, but you cannot deny that in this society there are certain mass social rules/trends regarding it, and I'm intrigued by where they came from.

I suspect that modern Christmas sort of began its development with Dickens and I do know that the Coca Cola Santa played a large part, but I wonder if some sociologist or anthropologist or historian has done a study on why Christmas is the way it is now -- at least in America. For example, why the holiday lights? Yes, they hearken back to the solar festivals, but between "solar festival" and "electricity" there's what, about 1100 years? Why the Gathering Together With Family? Up until a few generations ago, most extended families lived under one roof anyway, so the compulsion wouldn't have existed. Would it? I have no clue. What's the deal with giving fruitcakes and when did fruitcakes garner such terrible social stigma? I quite like fruitcake, at least the kind they make in Corsicana.

This came up mainly because I begin to see musicians trying to write "christmas classics" that will end up in the standard holiday ouevre in the way that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and White Christmas are -- this year's contribution is "The Christmas Shoes", an unbearably absurd paean to once-a-year-charity and one of the few songs which will make my family actively demand a change of radio station. The Muppets tried for one years ago with "We'll Be Together at Christmas" which was the theme for A Christmas Toy and part of the medly at the end of A Muppet Family Christmas. Now, granted, I can sing the song from heart and recognise it instantly, but it's not exactly a big 'do on the radio stations.

The problem with modern "christmas classics" is that they read rather ridiculously to most people. Don't tell me you don't snigger when Clay Aiken sings about the spirit of Christmas. And yet, songs that were the equivalent of pop-music for their day, such as White Christmas (written by Irving Berlin for the film Holiday Inn and then used as the theme for White Christmas, another song about innkeeping) are considered basic standards for the holiday season. People with a little more performative dignity than general, such as Michael Buble, tend to stick to covers of these songs rather than attempting to write new ones, because they know that these austere old classics will sell just as well and sound less silly.

But why are these songs considered the classics, to us? Granted, of course, we also include "Stille Nacht" and "We Three Kings" which are older than this past century, but those get a lot less airtime on the Christmas Stations and in Christmas Albums than pop songs written in the 30s and 40s. My generation certainly has its own classic films
-- How the Grinch Stole Christmas, all the old Rankin-Bass stuff, Muppet Family Christmas -- but we acknowledge at the same time that these are made-for-tv movies and we revel in their absurdity a little. A few of them are shown on television every year, but not nearly with the same sort of hoopla and whooptedoo that It's A Wonderful Life gets -- and how many television shows have reworked that theme for their own holiday episode? Too many to count.

So I wonder what was going on in the past century-anna-half or so to create this shambling behemoth of a holiday that we all feel the need to live up to. That's all. Preferably with lots of colour plates of old vintage Christmas ads.

In other news, Mum had a fall while doing a parts-audit at a warehouse (she buys boards for a local microprocessor company) and hit her head on a shelf, so she came home for about two hours. She's fine -- not concussed as far as we can tell -- but she does have a shallow half-inch gash on the back of her head and she's sore all over from the adrenaline rush.

She's been working from home for the past two hours, and (as ever) I begin to wonder if she swears and talks to herself this much at work, because if so I can understand why her cube neighbour is always really cranky.

And she's now gone back to work -- a 40 minute drive -- because they'd make fun of her if she stayed home. I think she's utterly mad, but as with Bernard, there's no arguing with her when she's set her mind, and she only sets her mind firmly when her course of action is absolutely ridiculous.

And she wonders where her children get it from.
I'm mostly unpacking, doing laundry, and cleaning up this morning. Recovering from the holiday, if you will. I haven't even looked at CC in two weeks, really, and LC in much longer. I hope to get back into that work this weekend. A part of it is that I really do have to "unpack" and clean up my computer as well. Because I haven't been on much, either online or simply using the computer, things have gotten lost, moved around, shifted through folders, and saved in the wrong places. Plus I have an email backlog, although that's pretty much par for the course. :D

In the meantime, as I work, I've gone back to dubbing all our old VHS tapes to DVD. It's an odd assortment; earlier this morning it was old episodes of Zorro that the Family Channel used to play back before they were bought by the fundies, when they actually put on well-written family programming. At the moment it's a PBS documentary on Benjamin Franklin which is exceedingly interesting.

The best part so far is an explication of the old Tin Whistle story -- Franklin bought a little tin whistle as a child and was mocked by his family for paying too much for it. They explained to him that he could have bought an array of things instead of a single thing. Most textbooks tell us that this taught him thrift and not to spend money on pleasure. In his own words, however, it taught him almost directly the opposite: to put proper value on things and, in a way, never to value wealth too highly. He says that a miser who gives up comfort and friendship for wealth has paid too much for his whistle; he has given up one valuable pleasure for one overvalued pleasure.

Whistles are nice, as is wealth, but neither should be overvalued beyond function and worth.

Good to know, and good to still be reaching for more than the McNuggets. Especially at the conferences, I became aware of just how many people really are McNugget-eaters. I prescribe a healthy application of Lies My Teacher Told Me, particularly for Americans.
To do before Monday:

Get:
Cash, Shoes, Haircut

Finish:
Presentation for conference
CC34
LC Year II
Essay on Why You Should Hire Me For This Fabulous Fellowship Where I'd Get To Make Masks All Day
Gift fic for Acid and two collabs which my collaborators have been patiently not nagging me about, thank all three of you very much.

When I went to URT/As (theatre folk and artists might appreciate this tip, URT/A-bound or not) I made up one-page resumes like everyone did, for all the recruiters to take at their leisure. In addition, however, I made up "mini portfolios" which consisted of a half-page sheet with my name, contact information, and several thumbnails of my work on it. I stapled these to my resumes so that even when they didn't have my portfolio there for reference, they had some photographs to remind them of what my work looked like.

I've done the same for the conference this time around, although now of course the thumbnails are of study guides I've done and newspaper articles I've written. Several grad-school recruiters told me that the portfolio page is what got me an interview with them, but I'm wondering if scholars will take it in quite the same light...
I honestly think my shoulders just dropped at least three inches.

I have, as you all very well know, been terrified of this presentation in part because of my usual stage fright but also because of a severe case of Imposter Syndrome, that fear that everyone else thinks you know more than you do, that you'll be found out to be a fraud, and that you can't live up to someone's expectations of you. I've been able to see, quite clearly, the flaws not in my presentation but in the actual thesis I'm presenting.

So this morning I sat down in a rather dispirited fashion and tried taking one more crack at creating my Powerpoint slides to go along with the presentation.

Then, uh, I restructured the entire thing.

I think it might actually work now. If I can figure out how to cram eight pages about Blackface into a single slide (I only get 20 minutes to present, cut me some slack) I'll have a fairly critic-proof presentation.

Phew.
My mentor at my undergraduate university teaches scenic design and script analysis on a number of levels, including an advanced course which students intending to become scenic designers (or who are particular masochists) generally take. The class ranges in size from two to thirteen, depending on the semester, and is actually more educational in terms of general theatrical theory than Directing and Dramaturgy combined.

(My mentor is an unyielding, unsentimental, impossible genius; I miss him terribly, and he wants me to find a job in Seattle so that I can come paint shows for him.)

The final he gives for this course is legendary, one of three rites of passage in our department. He selects a play of about ten to fifteen pages (we got Mountain Language, by Pinter) and gathers his students on an afternoon when they have no other exams.

We sat in the design classroom, well-stocked from previous courses and full of odds and ends with which to build models, and waited while he ducked into his office next door. He returned with a stack of scripts, four bottles of wine, and a pile of plastic cups. At the time I was teetotal, so he had brought a bottle of nonalcoholic cider for me.

"Drink," he said, "and design me a set."

We read the play, most of us for the first time, and were given two hours to draft a rough groundplan and build a model each. We knew, theoretically, that this was coming; we just didn't know what play.

There was an excitement which accompanied the anticipation of the exam. This was something one knew one could do; all one had to do was employ the mental and physical skills acquired during the class. Analysis, creation, fabrication, presentation. I enjoyed that exam more than I have enjoyed most actual courses I've taken. Wondering just how much you could accomplish in two hours, wondering what others would do with the same amount of time, but knowing that after this frantic period of gluing and painting and drawing, you were bound to pass. How could you fail? It wasn't a test. It was a challenge.

I remembered that feeling when OotP came out; the excited ride downtown on the T, buying the book at the civilised hour of nine am, riding home again with the book open on my knee. In fact, I missed my stop (Jamaica Plain) and decided just to go to the end of the line and catch my stop on the way back. Why not? More time to read before the walk home from the T station.

I remembered -- I remember -- not because it's a challenge to read the book in a day but because of what comes after. Absorbing the information, integrating it into one's personal view of canon, laughing at some parts and (lately) viewing others with horror and shock. It requires intelligent thought, once the first reactions have worn off. Writing fanfic for the next few months will be difficult as our worldview changes yet again, and digesting that change will not necessarily be easy either. I, for one, am going to find a lot of my fanfic outdated and incorrect, which will be dismaying but unavoidable.

Perhaps I'm overdramatising the HBP release; certainly it looks that way from where I sit, and my inherent instinct is to lock this post privately and laugh about it later. But to be honest, we are a part of a popular culture phenomenon which is occurring around us and will occur at no other time, once the next (last?) book is released. How many people, twenty years from now, will wonder what it was like to see each book as it came and anticipate its release with such interest and activity? Italo Calvino wrote an entire novel about the anticipation of an author's new works, and I know I've wondered this very thing about the Narnia septalogy and the Holmes stories.

So though it may be trying, difficult, upsetting, time-consuming, irrelevance-making, and as Jaida said, oddly frightening -- though I may not really want to plow through the book, as I find the universe more fascinating than the stories -- it is after all something to embrace. We rarely know, at the time, what will be History later, but I think we may be fairly certain that this is, in one way or another.
They invented the word "staggering" for mornings like this.

As those of you in education in America may know, student loans are going to leap from 3% to almost 5% on July 1, so I thought I'd consolidate and save 2% interest.

*watches as that sentence alone causes the less mathematically inclined, like himself, to go "bzuh?" and need a lie-down*

So, I've been working on getting my financial aid records and finding a place to consolidate for me. I attended a small Liberal Arts school for undergrad at a time when we were Very Poor (as opposed to now, when we're just Sort Of Poor), so I have a lot of loans. I was expecting that. I was even expecting the number, but it's still STAGGERING to hear someone say, aloud, "Ah yes, I have your total for you here. You owe sixty two thousand dollars in student loans."

"Oh," I said, while my brain went plink.

My monthly payment, once I start paying, will be roughly equivalent to the rent on my first flat, five years ago. And I'll be paying it for the next thirty years. Whee?

(and the first person who scoffs and says "that's nothing, I have TEN ZILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT" will be punched in the head.)

ETA: Ahem. I should point out that should you offer me twice the amount of my student loans in return for removing my education from my brain, I would not hesitate to say no. So in a way I rather feel I've beaten the system, cos they've got sixty thousand dollars but they haven't got my brain. Nyah.
And also, my dear Beans/ villainny,

Now, you I have known essentially since I joined LJ, so I feel it is within my rights to say that I am the most proud of you I could possibly be and I admire your achievement with no small amount of personal affection attached to it.

Welcome to the post-university world! I've been here for three weeks and let me tell you, it sucks.

Now, you brilliant young woman, go get your Master's. DO IT. *grins*
I.....*blank stare*

I got everything done on my list of "to do" today except for "pack" which, really, is not something one gets done so much as something one does, continually.

I did buy a newspaper to use as packing material when wrapping fragile objects! It cost almost precisely a dollar a page to get my 111-page thesis bound -- they have to print it on paper made from the skins of endangered animals, apparently. (This is sarcasm. No animals were harmed in the making of my thesis. Which I think shows admirable restraint on my part.)

I also turned in my keys and all the rest of my library books -- this being the first time in two years I have not had at least one book checked out at all times -- used up the last of my bookstore gift certificate on a DVD and a book of short stories, and got passport photos taken for my passport renewal, which I then promptly mailed off.

Look out world, SAM IS IMMINENT.
All right, now that I've decompressed a bit and had something to eat... *grins*

Thank you to everyone who's been supporting me through this -- your kind words and thoughts have meant the world to me today, and I promise someday soon I'll stop spamming my LJ with thesis stuff. But it was very helpful to know that folks were thinking of me. Sorry I kept you all in suspense :D

My mum even sent me a mask! It arrived this morning in a package with a bunch of chocolate and some mail that came to her house by mistake. It's absolutely gorgeous -- I'll post photos tomorrow -- and it came from Bali, from a maskmaker who supplies a troupe of the famed Balinese dancers that Artaud was so mad for. I haven't gone over all the neat description stuff that came with it, but if it was made in the traditional fashion (as it seems to have been) then it was carved from a living tree.

Either way, it's cool -- it's reversible. It's called the frowning man, and if you hold it with the corners of the eyes slanting downwards (and the inside signature right-way-up) it looks like a large-nosed, unhappy sort of soul with a furrowed brow. However, if you turn it around so that the signature is upside down, instead you have an impish, pug-nosed face with an enormous grin. It's quite one of the most beautiful things I've ever owned.

As for the defence itself....

Man, they invented the phrase "academically rigorous" to describe examinations like that. I spent about ten minutes going over my process and my feelings on the paper with my committee, talking about what I would do if I were going to publish, or if I were going to expand it into a dissertation. After that, they took turns asking questions; as expected, my Classics prof nailed me on Atellan farces, so I have to rewrite that section, and both of my other profs asked for more discussion of the place of the mask in realism, including an examination of whether film's interaction with theatre (in particular, the close-up) precludes modern society from ever really interacting with the mask in the way earlier cultures have. Not a slam-dunk to fix, but not beyond my range.

They also discussed the possibility of a closer examination of the development of the American Democracy as a unique and unusual form of government/culture, and whether that interacts with masked theatre at all, but I responded that while it was an interesting idea, it was a thesis in itself and I didn't feel that it was relevant enough to my particular studies to warrant inclusion. This, and the fact that I pointed out the parliamentary system is pretty much first cousin to the American mode of government, made my advisor very happy (so she informed me afterwards).

But they still signed the Petition to Graduate and I delivered it to the administration office literally as it was closing, and then I sat down in the lobby and breathed deeply for a while.

So, I have all three copies of my thesis back, with copious revision markers, and I'm meeting with Advisor on Monday to discuss said revisions. I took notes, too, and as I took them with my IoPen I'll upload them for all to see, if you so desire, when I do a belated photo update tomorrow.

Not that you'll be able to read them, but it's the spirit of the thing. :D

Thank you again, everyone who wished me luck and who is popping champagne in the earlier post :D
The Board of Regents,
the Faculty,
and the Graduating Class of The University of St Nowhere
announce that

[livejournal.com profile] copperbadge

is a candidate for the degree of Master of Arts in Dramaturgy
with special mention as Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Division of Performing Arts.


Passed with revisions; not a complete triumph, but then so few things in life are.

I am officially a Master of Arts.

More later; I'm posting this from the free-use computer in the administration building and my 5 minutes are almost up.
Well, the thesis is formatted for submission, the forms are all printed out, my nice clothes are hanging unwrinkled by the door, and I've located the graduate office I need to take the forms to once they're signed.

The glue is drying on the Thesis Mask -- a physical execution of some of the theories I discuss towards the end of the final chapter. A nice visual, and a prop to hide behind.

Thank goodness the ribbon for the ties showed up today, or it would have been leather bootlaces bought from Walgreens on the way to school tomorrow.

I'm not moving on in education this time; I'm not sure what I'm doing, but I know that it means tomorrow is the culmination of seven years' work, which began with the phrase "Why don't you stop fucking around and admit you're a theatre major?" and the injunction to buy The Empty Space. My copy has at least three separate shades of ink in it -- first-reading underlines, annotations after study, and highlighting from a time I wrote a paper on it.

In that slim volume, Peter Brook says that "A word does not start as a word -- it is an end product which begins as an impulse, stimulated by attitude and behaviour which dictate the need for expression." The words I'm defending tomorrow -- thirty-two thousand and one of them, to be precise -- began as an impulse seven years ago to do not what was merely bearable because I was good at it, but what I could build a passion for -- what fulfilled my need for expression.

And I would have made a wretched psychologist, anyway.

I suppose I ought to be nervous, but I'm just numb, other than not being able to sleep. If I fail now it's going to be tragically anticlimactic.
I'm coming to you live from the New Laptop!

They sent me a whole new power cord (meaning I now have 1 1/2 cords instead of the paltry half I had) and, as reparations, a laptop bag especially designed for wide-screen laptops. Which this one is. So yay, new bag!

And no, I'm not naming it. When I name things they tend to break or get stolen; I think it's the universe's way of reminding me not to cling too closely to my material possessions. So, no name.

Also, I can get wireless off someone's unsecured router at precisely one place in my flat, and that is about a foot ahead and slightly to the right of my sofa, at the most inconvenient location possible. Still, it's wireless. I'll cope. :D

I also went out and bought my cap and gown and hood today -- man, MA gowns are cool, they have pockets in the SLEEVES! And I also stocked up on clay, since the last of what I'd bought went towards Scaramouche, that rascal.

It's really amazing, you know, Americans might be afraid of masks but they're also fascinated by them. You mention you work with masks and people just open right up. My cashier at the bookstore* must have spent ten minutes asking me questions about my thesis and the work I'm doing with maskmaking. Thankfully it was midafternoon and nobody was there....

* I bought graduation garments, CDRWs, clay, and a bag of Doritos at the bookstore. I win at eclecticism.

ETA: I almost forgot. I had a dream last night that I was involved in the final battle between good and evil. And I mean, it was a seriously Judeo-Christian armageddon, God Versus Satan, the whole bit. Intriguingly, Satan was actually a 19th century mad Russian playwright. His right-hand man was Severus Snape, who had the most enormous wings I've ever seen. It was seriously bizarre.
First preview of the show was yesterday, and not Tuesday night like I thought.

Production Report:
Dramaturg:
Could the lobby display be attached more securely to the boards?

Well, it would be if I had FINISHED IT. It would also be COHERENT if I had FINISHED IT. Jesus christ, some of the components weren't even printed on the right fucking paper. It would not look like some lame slacker has knocked off halfway through FINISHING IT to go smoke a joint with the sound design kids.

Which I did not do, by the way. I specifically left it until Monday because preview was Tuesday and I needed to finish research for my thesis chapter.

Fuckety fuck.

Monday: FINISH LOBBY DISPLAY, pick up exam materials, go over midterm review notes, cease to loathe self.
Tuesday: Give midterm review (professor's absent), collect essays, write section on drag for thesis chapter, cease to loathe self.
Wednesday: Turn in thesis chapter (godwilling), begin grading papers, cease to loathe self.
Thursday: Give midterm. Give afternoon presentation on play to gang of elderly donors who come for special Elderly Donor Performance. Vomit copiously from stage fright. Cease to attempt to cease to loathe self.
Friday: Commit ritual suicide. Finish grading papers for Tuesday first.

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