Hi, friends! This summer, I’m preparing for my first round of PhD exams, which I will sit in early September. So the next few months are full of studying, reading, writing, and repeating. This is how I’m working it: music + reading + ambient location = exam success. Right?
Here’s the background: I’m studying for two exams on fields that support my primary research area. These two fields are “Modernism and Theories of the Body” and “Folklore and Belief.” The two fields are demonstrated by a list, each of which has between 30 and 35 texts on it, and each list will culminate in a ten page paper that I will have 48 hours to write (sometime in early September) based on a prompt assigned by my examiner. A week or so after the written portion, I will have an oral defense of these two papers. If I pass, I move on in my PhD program; if I fail, my progress is stalled and I have one chance to retake the exams or be dismissed from the program. So it’s kind of a big deal. I’ve already read most of the Modernism list, so this summer is more focused on folklore. One of my study techniques is to pair each reading with a particular album, even a particular song, which helps evoke the themes of the text and gives me a soundtrack to call up when I need to remember that text. Another study technique is to keep moving the place I read so that I remember each text in a physically different configuration. Game on!
Reading: My Ántonia by Willa Cather
Listening: “That Western Skyline” by Dawes from North Hills
Seeing: early summer rain, grey skies, the inside of a coffee shop
Reading: The Ritual Process by Victor Turner
Listening: “Dark Horse” by Other Lives from Tamer Animals
Seeing: more summer rain, warm blue skies, the inside of other coffee shops
Reading: various articles on American civil religion (by Robert Bellah) and religion in a voluntaristic society (by Nancy Ammerman)
Listening: “Rise to Me” by The Decemberists from The King is Dead
Seeing: the weather is starting to turn