27 November, 2007

One more step in the preparations

I might be playing a waiting game when it comes to paperwork, but goshdurnit, I can start getting ready in other ways.

Chief among them today were the acquisition of a set of Latin Scrabble tiles (hat tip to Brent, who picked them up for me), and purchasing a webcam. Now, I already have a webcam, myself, but it is not nearly so cool when there's no one to talk to. So before I go I am going to teach my mother and father how to use it. It's a lot cheaper than phones, to be sure.

The next thing on the list is a cellphone that is usable on British frequencies.

26 November, 2007


Yesterday morning at approximately 1030hr, Keith passed away.

Keith was one of the residents at the centre where I work. I knew him when he was in House 6, so I think I got to know him a little better in some ways than the folks in House 7 did, since his routine changed dramatically when he moved.

He was noisy and kind of gross. Some days, very gross. He wasn't very personable and didn't interact that much.

For some reason, I still liked him. I've no idea why I had the soft spot for him, but I did. I'm going to miss him.

Rest well, little guy.

24 November, 2007

Post-Lecture Debriefing!

Yesterday went well.

I was up till about 3am on Wednesday working on the paper before I said "nuts to this!" and went to sleep. I woke up at about 10:00 Thursday morning, and a very fast shower was followed by 2.5 hours of frantic paper-finishing. I was having some trouble with the Latin of a key passage, and since my argument depended heavily on the translation of both individual words and the semantic sense of the whole sentence, I needed to get it just right. Eventually I gave up on the worst of it in the interests of time, and went to get myself ready.

When you're pretty nervous, looking professional is a big deal - you feel more professional. So I did what I could, with the makeup I so rarely wear, and the hair I bother to straighten even more rarely than I wear makeup. I put on my "grad student" clothes, far different from my current work clothes. I looked like the lecturers I used to go see.

Anyway, when I got to campus, Excellent David helped me sort out the tricky Latin. Fie on you, idioms that look like plural accusatives! Fie! Fortunately, the sense was exactly what I was hoping it was, so I could scribble it into the talk more or less seamlessly.

The Lecture
The lecture itself went better than I had hoped. I had the whole thing on paper, but I wasn't afraid to deviate. 4-5pm was the time allotted, including questions, and I spoke for roughly 50 minutes. Perfect.

I made some truly last-minute substitutions of examples in my introduction, but the end result was far better, for more relevant, and far more personal. I hope I managed to do honour to someone who is very worthy of it.

Reports afterwards were that I was shaky at the beginning, but managed to find my stride fairly early on. I certainly felt the stage-fright at the beginning and my throat was seizing up. I had to dig out the bottle of Pepsi I'd brought with me, but I was too nervous to open it. In the end, I just kind of rested my hand on it/held it, and that seemed to steady me. Weird, but it worked. I'll have to make sure I have a bottle of something on hand next time.

Or maybe I'll just have a beer right before.

Anyway. It was nice to have my little cheering section there - thanks, guys, even if you were the most disruptive members of the audience! You just can't get good roadies these days. There were at least five "strangers" in the crowd: not bad, given the disgusting weather and the obscurity of the topic. Two of them took notes, as if I was some sort of authority worth paying attention to! (I better not let that get to my head...)

Question period was good, even if there was only two questions. It was very bizarre, being asked for further reading and having to answer "There is none. You've heard everything that exists today."

I found as I was writing the sections which drew on medieval texts the most interesting (naturally). But I am very excited that I have begun drawing conclusions based on primary sources. Beginning to theorise a construct of medieval mental impairment. I am so stoked to see Dr. Turner's book when it comes out. I can't wait to see if she's been thinking along the same lines as me. But I digress.

After the lecture came the gorging. It's departmental tradition to take guest lecturers out for dinner afterwards, so off we trooped to find much food and alcohol! I was quite hungry, having been too nervous to eat prior to the talk. We found both much food and much alcohol. And much laughter. I enjoyed spending the time with the people who have spent so much time and effort getting me to the point I am at now. Good friends.

Many Many Thank-Yous!
Thank you to Excellent David, who may never see this but was the mastermind behind the whole shebang, and who helped me with last-minute Latin.
Thank you to Margaret, for her comments on the introduction, which were very helpful.
Thank you, Brent, for driving on the way up so I could practice, and on the way back so I could drink at dinner.
Thank you Ramona, for being so encouraging and for being my sounding board. Having someone who understands where I'm coming from when I approach the topic means more than anyone but you could ever know.
Thank you Joni for the laughter and the encouragement, and for all the Latin together.

Now I just have to make all the edits that came in during the actual talk to the paper version, since I've already had two requests for a copy, and I also I hate leaving things half-finished.

22 November, 2007

Theirs not to reason why

Mine but to do, and die.

Well, hopefully not die. The lecture is pretty much ready to go, with just a few small additions and changes to be made in the morning, and some devilish Latin to straighten out.

4-5pm, "Ships of fools and the Myth of the Holy Innocent: Mental Disability in the Middle Ages"

21 November, 2007

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

An interesting article came to my attention today. Oh, wikipedia, you fickle resource...

Wikipedia: time-saver for students, bane of professors everywhere.

Or is it?

If there’s one place where scholars should be able to question assumptions about the use of technology in the classroom (and outside of it), it’s the annual Educause conference, which wrapped up on Friday in Seattle. At a morning session featuring a professor and a specialist in learning technology from the University of Washington at Bothell, presenters showed how Wikipedia — often viewed warily by educators who worry that students too readily accept unverifiable information they find online — can be marshaled as a central component of a course’s syllabus rather than viewed as a resource to be banned or reluctantly tolerated.

That’s what Martha Groom, a professor at the university’s Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program, tried to do for the first time last fall by requiring term papers to be submitted to the popular, user-edited online encyclopedia. The project comes at a time when instructors and administrators continue to debate the boundaries of certain technologies within the classroom and how to adapt to students’ existing online habits.

At first glance, a college term paper and a Wikipedia entry appear to have little in common. Term papers are intended for an “extremely limited audience, namely, me,” as Groom pointed out, they have little impact outside of the classroom and are constrained to a specific “time” and “place” in the world of ink-on-paper documents. “That is not a very good model of scholarship, to say that anything you produce [belongs] in this tiny space,” she said.

On the other hand, shared, public online documents have characteristics in common with parts of the academic review process. “The shift to thinking about placing the term paper as a Wikipedia encyclopedia entry allows for another level of peer review,” Groom said. Such entries have references and citations; allow for a process of repeated, continual editing; and encourage collaborations between authors.

Article continues at Inside Higher Ed

I like this idea quite a lot. It makes use of wikipedia in a constructive way, and might be especially useful in first-year classes where students are still stuck in the Five Paragraph Essay mindset. It more closely mimics the academic process, and it gives students the feeling that their work is actually worth something beyond a grade. Speaking as one who despises busy-work, I love the idea that students get the gratification of seeing their work "go somewhere." This could also work well in, for example, a Latin composition class. Vicipaedia needs more articles!

I will have to keep this in mind for when I finally get a classroom of my own.


I decided to make a run into the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies library today for some last-minute digging. To my delight, I found a number of interesting references on mitigation of penances and regulations for marriage and ordination. Raymond de PeƱafort's Summa de penitentia and Summa de matrimonio yielded several passages (many thanks to Ms. Melissa!). El matriomonio en la summa Breves dies hominis also turned something nice up.

There are a lot more references to furiosi, which is moderately frustrating. At least I can draw some conclusions from that, because often they qualify furens. And Grosseteste's Templum Dei does use the word imbecillans, so it's not too rare.

The problem of insanity versus impairment is causing me no end of headaches, and even I will be interested to see how it gets sorted out. Fortunately, the references I found today should help.

My first public lecture is on Thursday. I'm kind of terrified. The most interesting thing, though, was that I sat in that little cubicle for two hours and felt like a few minutes had passed. I was not distracted or even tempted to be distracted. Flipping through Latin penitentials was fun!

19 November, 2007


Large swathes of my lecture have now been copied and pasted from my April essay. It needs refining and re-focusing, but much of the underlying information is the same, or is applicable. I'm now at about 4,000 words, and when I add in some of the more current results of research, it will be even longer. I've got penitentials at PIMS to plough through! I'm trying to keep focus - I've started branching out with words like aetiology and trans-historical conceptualisation. I've got a page of stuff about hospitals and a page of Isidore of Seville and his accursed Etymologia, and I've got to pare that down or make it more relevant.

I'm going to be very glad when this is done.

18 November, 2007

Lecture Notes

I sat down this evening and did a test-run of what I've written so far of my lecture. It clocked in at just under 20 minutes, which means I need a minimum of 2,000 more words, and preferably closer to 3,000. Still, that is feasible.

I need to work on enunciating and on speaking slowly. I also have to practice several more times, because I keep tripping over my own words. Also, there is my ambition not to be one of those lecturers who mumble unintelligibly, nor who talk too fast to hear, nor even who read very well but only read. I want to engage, I want to entertain. And I want to impress the socks off the professors and staff who I hope will one day be looking at my CV for a tenure-track job. I've got long-term plans, my friends, and this is where they start!

And now, for those who live far, far from south-western Ontario, here's the introduction of my talk. Criticism and requests for clarity are encouraged and appreciated!

Medieval Studies is, as any medievalist knows, a highly interdisciplinary field. The disability studies field is likewise interdisciplinary. It is quite surprising, then, that the two fields have not often intersected. In the past, medievalists have ignored the history of disability, leaving it to doctors and medical historians. Disability Studies is a relatively new field, and has focused almost exclusively on the modern period. It is only in this century that dialogue between the disciplines has begun to bear fruit.

My research has led me to stumble upon this strange intersection, which is what I am here today to talk about. The methodologies of both disciplines will be discussed in turn. It is impossible to explain the topic, or even the necessity of the scholarship, without doing so. Both disability scholars and medievalists have dismissed each other’s methodology, and this strange circumstance has concealed the very lack of scholarship. Nevertheless, the field of medieval disability studies is beginning to gain momentum and notice, and is developing a methodology unique to itself. It is in this setting that the questions I pose find themselves.

The field of disability studies is a relatively recent one, developing and gaining prominence only since the 1980s. Before then, impairment was considered a topic only suitable for medical discourse. Disability was considered almost irrelevant to historical study, as it was something that had always been a fact of life. In taking such a position, these medical scholars assumed that the implications of impairment – its social and cultural aspects – were universal and absolute. In the 1980s, following the dramatic paradigm shift that feminist studies had forced upon the historical and sociological fields, scholars and activists began to consider whether the place of disabled persons had not been similarly ignored.

Out of this grew the field of Disability Studies, and the core of all further scholarship concerning impairment. Disability, scholars say, is anything but absolute. A distinction is drawn between the physiological fact of, for example, a missing leg, and the dis-abling situation of wheelchair-inaccessible buildings. The word “impairment” is taken to mean the physiological fact, and “disability” has come to mean the social and cultural circumstances which separate an impaired person from normal activity, the “generic term used to denote the social disadvantage experienced by people with an accredited impairment.” The old medical model, which drew no such distinction, inevitably applied modern assumptions to times and cultures which may not have shared them. The clarification of this critical concept allows scholars to approach the history of disability in an entirely new way. As Irina Metzler explains, the old model “is not appropriate to an investigation of disability in historic terms, in that past societies ... have had impairment but may not have had ‘disability’. If the medical model is used, then it is at the risk of contaminating the evidence with modern cultural assumptions” (9).

17 November, 2007

Concilium dismissum est.

Convocation today! I am now a Master of Arts. Master Alison.

This ceremony was shorter than the last one, and in far nicer digs. Convocation Hall is tiny, but it's a lot posher than UW's dressed-up gymnasium. I got hooded and I got my degree, and had many pictures of both. I'm quite pleased.

Next time, I get colourful robes and a funny hat, and I get to keep them!

14 November, 2007

Seeking Out Funding, Part the First

Welladay, I've been blithering on about my SSHRC application for quite a few posts now, and I'm starting to feel some sort of obligation to make this blog useful to others because God knows, I would LOVE to be able to read a blog like this right now. There's so much about going overseas and grad school in general to keep up in the air, and I'm a cruddy juggler. Having someone else offer suggestions and tips would be awesome, and while Excellent David is (natch!) an excellent source of info, his is ten years out of date.

Grad school is expensive, and international grad school is even worse. Most of us, by the time we get to grad school, are already deeply in debt and old enough to start having thoughts of settling, having a family, and doing it all without declaring bankruptcy. As a result, we need all the free funding we can get.

So. First in a series of informative posts about finding funding.

The Social Sciences and the Humanities Research Council offers scholarships for both Master's and PhD students (as well as funding for more established scholars). Winning a "SSHRC" is a moderately big deal in a status way, and an even bigger deal in a funding way.

Master's SSHRCs are valued at $17,500 for 12 months, and I've been told they receive fewer Master's applications than PhD so your odds aren't bad. PhD SSHRCs are valued at $20,000/year for up to 48 months. Also administered under the auspices of SSHRC is the Canada Graduate Scholarship, affectionately and awedly known as the "Super-SSHRC." The CGS is valued at $35,000/year for up to 36 months, and all SSHRC applications are automatically considered for the CGS as well (no separate application necessary).

The numbers alone should tell you these awards are worth applying for.

The application process is as full of red tape as you would expect. In addition to the 9 page online application form, which must be filled out absolutely correctly, you are responsible for getting two reference letters and writing a plan of study. I discussed the plan of study in an earlier post, but there's always more to say.

  • SSHRC is applicable to students studying outside of Canada.
  • Start early. Start writing your proposal early. SSHRC winners have been known to write upwards of 20 drafts, tweaking here and tinkering there. Your brain may get bogged down midway, so make sure you have time to put it on a shelf and take a break.
  • Answer all the questions I listed in the earlier post, and don't be afraid to be blunt about them. You only have two pages - no room to be coy! SSHRC is not looking for flowery writing. Point of fact, I've been told they generally despise it. "Creative" and "artistic" are not good adjectives for a solid proposal (not to be confused with your actual idea, which may be creative and/or artistic). They want to know, in two pages, that you are a serious scholar with serious research potential, and that your ideas are viable. Presenting this creatively doesn't make you stand out: it makes you look frivolous. You have to take yourself seriously to get them to take you seriously. This goes for the title of your project, too: concise and descriptive are better than catchy.
  • If you are at a school which offers a grant-writing seminar, GO! I can't stress this enough. I did it last year, and in four weeks I learnt an entirely new "voice." Writing a grant application is very different than other academic writing you may have done thus far, and having the experts at writing successful applications show you how to do it is beyond value. The UofT course includes one-on-one time with Writing Centre staff, all of whom won a SSHRC or CGS in the past. Because this award is so high profile and a major source of graduate funding, you may be able to find a SSHRC-specific course. GO.
  • What SSHRC is looking for is research potential. They don't care what you've done in the past or how awesome you are, except inasmuch as it proves your potential. If you can't say exactly how a past experience makes you a good researcher, don't bother including it.
  • Avoid impersonal pronouns. Never say "this proves I am great" or "I will do it." Say "this [specific thing] proves I am great" and "I will do [specific thing]." You have to be absolutely clear.
  • Invest in a writing guide. I have Academic Writing for Graduate Students and it is top-notch. Provides help and information for a variety of writing situations grad students will encounter, including grant writing.

Be aware of your deadlines. If you are applying through your current school, your department will set the deadline. You have to fight your way out of your department, who have a limited quota of applications they can forward to the school. If you make it past that, you have to fight your way out of the school, who also have a quota. If you are not currently at a Canadian school, you apply independently, and the deadline is usually somewhere around 15 November. You don't have to fight your way to get to SSHRC, which is kind of nice. Plus you have extra time, but don't let that fool you - it runs out fast!

That is SSHRC in a nutshell. It generally has the earliest deadline, nearly a full year in advance. Grants can be awarded in May as well as September, but most people aim for September. It is also very good for students facing a thesis proposal, because the same sorts of thoughts (minus the begging) are needed.

Good luck!

13 November, 2007

A Pro

Today I learned that the UK postgraduate system does not involve quals. Nor comps. Nada.

They expect you to hit the ground running, and to have started writing your dissertation within the first year, but there are no major OMG I WANT TO DIE comps.

I count this as a "pro." We'll check back in July and see how that's going.

The Elephant

I got my SSHRC posted today. I have a few tips:

1. Make sure the computer you have to print from has the same word processor as the computer you write and format the proposal in.
2. Don't forget to include your supervisors' names. This saves having to re-print at the very last minute.
3. Read all the form questions very, very carefully. This is another tip to save reprinting at the last minute.
4. While Kinko's does have net and printer access, it's nicer to not need them.
5. When you start your application, give your self a deadline. Push it back two weeks, or better still, a month. This is a lot more fun than last-minute scrambling. And you will always be scrambling.
6. FedEx self-serve shipping sucks, unless you're a regular customer. Don't bother if you're not, and get a real live person to help you.

Thank God that's over. Now I can prepare for the next grant application.


A SSHRC plan of study is two pages long. Two tiny pages.

Yet here I am, just staring at them. I'm so sick of them I never want to see them again. I want to throw them away, delete them, burn them, and enter the world of low-paying mindless drudge work.

On second thought, I don't. I have heard so many people say "I got started at Oaklands to pay a few bills, figured I'd be here a few months or a year, tops. That was 17 (5, 22, 30!) years ago." I don't want to ever hear myself say that. I'm motivated!

I have seen the poop-eaters, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have to finish this app!

12 November, 2007

"To Dos" - Done!

  • call OSAP re: Canada Study Grant for Females Pursuing Doctoral Studies (807-343-7260)
  • email York about expense breakdown estimate form
  • post expense breakdown form
  • set up line of credit
  • pick up SSHRC references
  • brush up and finalise SSHRC plan of study, including bibliography

I called OSAP today about the grant, but the office was closed for Remembrance Day. Still, I called, and that in itself is motivating. I'll call back tomorrow morning.

I emailed York again about the OSAP expense form, just to remind them that it's coming, and to pleaseplease send it back quickly.

The line of credit is all set, complete with parental (guarantor) paperwork. Now I just need a letter saying I have it.

I am getting the last piece of SSHRC paperwork tomorrow from Excellent David, and I will post it express in the afternoon. He emailed me some suggestions for my plan of study, which I will integrate in tonight for my final draft. I met Scary David today to pick up my reference, and he made a point of telling me that he thought my plan of study was excellent. He said I sounded competent and my plan is specific and well-thought-out. Which for me is pretty frickin' amazing, given how intimidated I am by the man. So I'm happy, and even if I don't win (always likely), I know that at least I gave it a very good try.

Oh, and he also gave me the details for my first publication credit (submitted under his auspices), so I can include that for SSHRC. I'm also including the lecture next week. Yay!

10 November, 2007

Productivity! Question of the Day!

# of things on my list that got done? 0.

Working night shifts is kinda hell on my ability to function in the diurnal world. I did, however, write approximately 1.5k words of my lecture (okay, okay, I copied-and-pasted ~600 words, but they are highly relevant citations, I promise!) and I got my convocation tickets for next week.

So the day wasn't a total waste.

I can feel myself getting clingier and more pathetic, which is one part of my normal defence against this sort of anxiety. I start feeling the intense need to be around the people I am going to miss.

How do you react to anxiety of leaving people? More importantly, how do you deal with it?

09 November, 2007

Keeping Up With the To Do List

  • call OSAP re: Canada Study Grant for Females Pursuing Doctoral Studies (807-343-7260)
  • email York about expense breakdown estimate form
  • post expense breakdown form
  • set up line of credit
  • mail offer of admittance back to York
  • pick up SSHRC references
  • brush up and finalise SSHRC plan of study, including bibliography

This list (except the references) should be all crossed off by the end of the day. Then, it's waiting. When I get the paperwork back from OSAP, I will post all the financial info to York, and wait for the final offer of admittance, whereupon* I can apply for housing and a visa.

* Any piece of writing is improved by the inclusion of the word "whereupon."

08 November, 2007

Looking from "the other side"

Lectures. Lecturing is a rough business. Until recently, I never really though about the effort that goes into lecturing. I'm sure if I had, I would have admitted quite readily that it was a crapload of effort, but now I am starting to see it from personal experience.

I've been trying to write the lecture I'm giving, and it's not easy getting the thoughts in order. There is just so much to cover, and much to explain to the audience I know is composed of non-specialists. Medieval Disability scholarship draws on the tools of both disciplines, and I have to explain both because I can't assume everyone knows both. And while I'm at it, I need to remember I can't take anything for granted. There's knowledge I take for granted in myself, habits of thinking and accumulations of data, and I have to remember what things are not common knowledge. Is this what composing a lecture is always like, I wonder? I hope I can do well by my attendees.

In related news, today I was pointed to Rate Your Students, a website of retaliation against Rate My Professors. Over the years it seems to have evolved into generalised kvetching about collegial matters. It's something of a humbling read, and I really hope I wasn't (aren't!) like that. I believe there's someone here who might especially enjoy the Naive Nina posts. I wish we could all get along, but it seems that even advanced degrees don't mature into adults.

And in also-related news, my lecture has been pushed back one week. The other university in the city is hosting a lecture at the exact same time, and I was given the option of switching and hoping for more attendees. Since I could use the extra time anyway, I took it. C'est la vie.

In entirely un-related news, my line of credit approval got underway. Shouldn't be a problem, and I am very, very pleased at the GBP-CAD exchange these days.

05 November, 2007


Tonight I started writing the lecture I'm going to deliver on November 15. 5000-6000 words in 10 days? I suppose I can do it. I better be able to do it.

04 November, 2007

Collecting up some funding info

I'm starting a list of potential funding sources, hopefully allowing me to keep track of them all and apply to as many as I am eligible for.

So without further ado...

Overseas Student Scholarship - deadline May 1, "one-third or one-sixth of the appropriate tuition fee."

Partner Studentships - deadline Apr 30, "Tuition fee (at the home/EU rate) and a full stipend (£12,600 in 2007/8)."

Overseas Research Award - deadline Jan 31, "the award covers the difference between the home and overseas fee."

Commonwealth Scholarships - deadline Dec 31, and you get basically everything you could possibly need, and probably more.

I'm sure I am missing a few of them. But it's a start.

Other important funding information:
Tuition and finances at York
A general list of awards offered by York
Getting a job at York
Postgrad budget info
More potential funding sources
More budget stuff

And other important York information which I am glad to know about, finally:
Pre-arrival pack of info
Incoming students Arrival Pack

03 November, 2007

Cast of Characters

I should probably introduce some of the dramatis personae of this saga, since it is awfully hard to talk about life without mentioning the people in it.

Excellent David: A professor from the University of Waterloo, who I met during my 3A term. He terrified me with his Roman Philosophers class, but it was not really his fault. Later he created a Special Readings distant ed. class, which allowed me to graduate with my Latin minor. We met weekly, one-on-one, and it was an excellent time. He is an excellent professor, and a good friend. He's my main source of reference letters and when you get right down to it, he's my mentor. I owe him a great deal, as I am where I am due in very large part to him.

Scary David: Another professor named David, this one from my Master's. I had the misfortune of royally tanking a major presentation for his class in first term, and I am not convinced I ever redeemed myself from that. Nevertheless, I did much better in another of his classes in second term, and he has written me reference letters as well. I am still terrified of him.

Dr. Goldberg: One of my doctoral advisors. By his emails, a nice man. Hopefully not as scary as Scary David.

Dr. McDonald: My other doctoral advisor. By her emails, a nice woman. She and Dr Goldberg have enough confidence in me to let me attempt my ideas, which is more than the rest of the department has given me. I'm excited to meet them both.

More will come, I am sure. But that should get everyone on the same page.

Banking the fires of the furnace a bit

Tonight I put the school stress aside a little. I did make an appointment for Monday with the Credit Union, and I discussed my SSHRC proposal with the Excellent David yesterday, so I have not been wasting my time.

But tonight I watched a couple of the better episodes of due South,* and I knitted. Getting my fingers back in it, as I expect that after my lecture I will need something to entertain myself at work. I think it's good to not get overly wound up in this process. Little breaks like this will help keep the anxiety down, especially when they involve such comforting and homey activities.

I have been thinking about what I am going to be packing to take with me. I'm allowing myself perhaps three special books (in addition to the academic books I need), and a DVD binder. I really want to have my due South, Slings and Arrows, and some other shows and movies. Things that will help the homesickness. I think it's weight well spent.

* "North," "Call of the Wild," and "The Ladies Man" if anyone is interested. That show really had some of the best tv writing ever. I saw "The Ladies Man" for the first time tonight, and I was floored. It's going to haunt me.

01 November, 2007

To-Do List

  • email reference #1
  • email reference #2
  • order BA transcript
  • order MA transcript
  • print SSHRC forms
  • complete OSAP application
  • print OSAP forms
  • call OSAP re: Canada Study Grant for Females Pursuing Doctoral Studies
  • email York with expense breakdown estimate form
  • set up line of credit
  • mail offer of admittance back to York

Oh, and blog about the whole messy deal.

Summing up my entire life in two pages

Last year, when I composed my first SSHRC application, I felt entirely at sea. Sum up my entire past and academic future in just two pages? Then when I started writing, I thought I would never fill those two pages. How much can one say about research one has not yet done? I ended up using every single line of those two pages.

This year, I had the same experience. I am not quite done my draft yet, but it is coming along nicely, and I am almost at the two-page limit. And this, after weeks of being stalled at just over one page and despairing of ever filling more in.

It's hard to explain two very different fields to an army of non-specialists in either.

What needs to be included in a SSHRC draft:
Who I am.
What my topic is.
Why it is important and unique.
What has been done in the past that I can build on. (Also, am I serious enough about this to get my nose in it already.)
How I am going to go about studying it.
Why I am the best - nay, only - person to study this topic.
What I will do during the tenure of the award. (Is their money going to be well-used.)

And I have to sell myself. A hard sell, the I am great and spectacular, and my work is vitally important to all people kind of sell.

I tell you, if you ever find yourself in the position of writing your first grant application, see if your school offers a course through the writing centre or something. It is time very well spent. This is a very different sort of writing, and there are a lot of tips and tricks, a lot of Dos and Don'ts, that you need to know.

I hope I remember enough of last year's course to make this application a contender. It would ease the financial pressure so much.