Having taken my break, I’m back in the game today. I hit the ground running with some Brockett and Hildy (as any good Drama comps taker should) and proceeded onto some reading about rituals and the origin of Drama (problematic theory, blah blah, many details that most of the population will never care about but since I’ve decided to devote my life to bettering myself by way of the mind I need to know at least for the moment).
Over the course of the past week, I’ve been asked by many of my friends if I’m “a doctor yet”. Let me clear this one up: NO. I’m SO not a Doctor yet. I’m WAY far out from being a Doctor still. In fact, despite the fact that I’m about a half to a third of the way through the process by way of time (two years in to what should be a 4-7 year process), I’ve probably only done about a fourth of the work.
So the next thing they ask is “well what happens now?”
Here’s what happens now: I spend the summer studying for my exams. What this means in practice is cramming into my already-full mind every single detail about theatre history, actor training, the history of scenic design, theatre technologies, famous actors, playwrights, and important plays that I can possible manage. I will be held accountable for all of this information in the fall when I take my comprehensive exams.
At Tufts Dance and Drama, comprehensive exams (or “comps” for those of us fondly acquainted with them) consist of basically a week-long process. Two days of in-house test-taking, then a weekend take-home. It’s an essay-based procedure which essentially examines the student’s ability to craft arguments out of the vast amount of theatre history described above.
It’s extremely stressful.
After comps (non-denominational-deity-willing that I pass them), I then proceed to my orals. This consists of two lengthy lectures which I will give on topics of my choosing within certain parameters set by the department (parameters mostly relating to the breadth of topics and how similar they can be) to a panel of professors whom I assemble.
Once I do this, provided I appease the savage gods of academia, I will take a month off.
Once I return from my month off, I will write a proposal for my dissertation. This will be reviewed by my diss advisor and likely rejected several times with suggestions for revision before it is accepted.
Once this is accepted, I start writing.
I write for a good year (if not two or three) then come back with a book-length manuscript. That golden dissertation.
Then I defend it.
Then I get a pat on the shoulder from the department, provided I’ve once again done well and appeased the savage academic gods, and then (oh then) you can call me “Doctor”.
Each of the steps on this road is huge, important, and extremely stressful. I appreciate the support and love of my friends and compatriots, and will require it in spades as I continue down my path to enlightenment and letters after my name. Every achievement is a hard-fought battle and will leave scars. Just because I may appear to have a cavalier attitude about it does not mean that it’s not a big deal (don’t let me fool you).
So: I thank you for your congratulations. I appreciate the excitement and I understand how confusing this process must be for someone completely outside of it (heck, it confuses me sometimes and I’m the one doing it). But no, I’m not a Doctor yet. And every small status change (Done coursework! ABD! Doctoral Candidate rather than Doctoral Student!) is HUGE.
Blood, sweat, and tears. A whole lot of sleepless nights.
I do love my job, but there’s a long way to go.
Here’s to another two to five years!