As I write this, it’s the 26th November, two days before we get our essay titles for the first semester of the MA. Given that I’ll probably be very busy between now and the new year, I thought it would be as well to spend this time working up an entry about my experiences so far and my hopes for the rest of the year. The things I enjoyed, the things I did not, what I was able to accomplish, and the ways in which I must improve.
I was expecting a smaller class coming into the MA and I certainly found it. Only four of us to start, a number that’s already dropped to three so fast it made me check for a Dr. Agatha Christie on the faculty list. I gather this is unusually small even for an MA class and while more hands on deck wouldn’t be a bad thing, this fun-size group does afford everyone ample time to speak or explore ideas during class.
On that note, the two-hour classes are magic. Admittedly there isn’t as much class time as I expected, coming in from the BA, but stitching two hour-length sessions into a duplex makes it more than the sum of its parts. Of course, even in two hours and with only three students we often don’t get through everything we’ve read or would like to discuss, but that speaks positively to the depth of the material.
The material we’ve covered throughout both our main class modules has been varied, complex, and interesting. Not necessarily more so than at BA level, but the additional class time lets us go through things with a finer-toothed comb than before. Book History has stood out as being particularly challenging, with the puzzle-like nature of deciphering dense scripts making it an enjoyable headache.
Of course, we do have a third module; Research Methods, and this has been where things fall down for me somewhat. The two-hour classes that allow for depth and discussion in our other subjects are simply not required to relearn basic academic tenets like “use correct grammar” or “don’t use clichés” or even “for Heaven’s sake don’t misuse clichés.” While such refreshing of basic skills has its place in any course, that place is not (in my admittedly unqualified opinion) to be afforded equal footing with the more substantial subjects we signed up for.
Now I understand that Research Methods is to change quite a bit in the second semester and become more focused on things like presentation and PhD preparation. These at least are new concepts and may require more in-depth teaching and discussion. I would perhaps make it clearer that the first semester classes are more in the way of being refresher courses. Shortening them and making them optional would be a judicious move, but of course that is another unqualified opinion.
It’s been a slow start overall, with this blog being the only concrete work I’ve had to manifest so far. Of course, that changes very soon and I face the approaching essays with all the attendant trepidation and excitement of one who’s been waiting in the wings for the last few months. This was something we discussed in class some weeks ago, and while I think the reasons for structuring the course this way are sound, I would certainly have warned September me about it given a time machine.
My greatest failure so far in the course has been my lack of attendance at optional events, seminars and guest lectures and so forth. This has not been due to deliberate snubbing or concentrated laziness, but rather a few unfortunately-timed coincidences and rather a diffuse laziness. On the one occasion I finally made it to a seminar, imagine my surprise when nobody else did. Some may say I was a week early, but reality is fluid and I choose to assert that they were a week late.
Jokes aside, I will have to make an effort to get to more events come the new year. Now that I have confirmation that we may seek outside our pre-set guest seminars, there’s no excuse for failing to find something of interest at UCC.
With that, I shall leave you. The sword of Damocles should finally be ready to come down, and if it isn’t I shall reach for my scissors. Merry Whatever-You-Do, and I’ll see you all in 2023.