?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Sigh... - 1370°C

Feb. 12th, 2007

09:37 pm - Sigh...

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

I've just put my historiographical foot in my mouth.

For History of Medieval England, we have to read a book a week and write a response paragraph or two. The one i read, called Rape in Medieval England was dead interesting but tweaked off a lot of "erm...wtf!?!" triggers in my brain. Of course, i didn't say this in my paragraphs because i just still know so little about non-English ways of doing History that i didn't want to look like a complete dork.

Sent the paragraphs in to the email list and got a response from my Prof: "since you missed class last week [i had the flu], you didn't hear my explanation of why this was on the reading list despite the fact that it is a really bad, deeply flawed book. Don't take it too seriously."

Good to know Dr. K.

{facepalm}

Remember all those times when i've told you all that i'm probably not capable of doing this degree properly? Empirical proof.

{/me slinks away in idiocy}

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:meghanh
Date:February 13th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, hush. I'm sure the paragraphs you sent to the list were well-written and brought up lots of cogent points. Even if you missed the explanation, if the prof didn't bring up any problems with your response, then your writing--for one of those pesky non-History people ;-)--was just fine.

I think we've all done something like this at least once. I know I have!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
I just tend to take these sorts of things that i read at face-value...assuming their research is valid even if their conclusions are dodgy. And of course, when i don't know much about the damned field, i've no way of knowing if the research is valid even if their conclusions give me pause. For instance, i did say something about being a bit wary that he said something to the effect of "fictional literature is useless to the study of medieval rape," which, to an English-sort, is clearly stupid ;)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:meghanh
Date:February 13th, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't know that I would be any more confident evaluating research in a field I wasn't too conversant with, say...English. You engaged the source, brought up objections to the author's thesis, and fulfilled the expectations of the assignment, from what I understand from your post.

Don't beat yourself up simply because you missed some inside information given by the professor. The text was problematic, and you picked up on that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:imbrium8
Date:February 13th, 2007 06:01 am (UTC)
(Link)
The text was problematic, and you picked up on that.

Such a good point - it reminds me of something Anita always says. She's occasionally told this story - maybe you've heard it - about hwo she had read some text, had a fantastic idea about it, and ran to tell her adviser about it, contemplating... I don't know, a paper or a thesis or something. He told her it was a truly great take on the text - one that had already been published by some other scholar. The important thing, though, was that she'd had the idea herself as well.

So you didn't mention your reservations - what's more important is that you knew something about the book was off, even without the professor's inside information.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:imbrium8
Date:February 13th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
Second!

This is not proof of *any* incapability. Don't forget, everyone feels like a fraud in scholar's clothing - it's pretty damn well documented.
You're going to rock the degree.

I'm also reminded of the fact that I never mentioned what recruitment activities I'd find interesting. I say the bar/restaurant scene are some of the non-program stuff I'm most interested in - that, and seeing the Mall of the Americas, if only because I never have.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, i could surely take you to do that on my own ;)

By the by. We're staging a bleeding huge (for us) colloquium that recruitment weekend (fourth weekend in March, if that gives you any idea when you might hear). Four of our Medieval and Early Modern Research Group presenting papers (including yours truly). Should be a good time overall.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:imbrium8
Date:February 13th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
Cool! Assuming I get in, I look forward to it!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mandy12052
Date:February 13th, 2007 10:29 am (UTC)
(Link)
Even if the book is flawed--which you noticed despite the professor reiterating later--I wouldn't take one professor's subjective opinion on something too seriously. I don't doubt the book has its fair share of historical misrepresentations nor that the professor has extensive knowledge of Medieval History, but for a subject so little documented in that period (or so it seems from my understanding) it's hard to say yea or nay anyway.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:lollardfish
Date:February 13th, 2007 01:47 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That's probably not true, really. There's a set of things we know and discuss a lot about, and then there's other things we just don't know, but within that first set, it's not really so mysterious. And I doubt K. would speak unwisely in that regard, if K. is who I think she is.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Probably is exactly who you think she is--everyone's favourite tougher-than-nails UMN history Prof ;)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:lollardfish
Date:February 13th, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, and here I thought it might be the English prof. with K. No no, if it's the history K., best believe it!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yar, it's the history K. The English K. is my Awesome Advisor.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Believe it or not, it's mostly that his statistical sampling is *tiny* and he makes a lot of claims based on it that aren't really founded considering. Like polling your friends and deciding most of the people in the world must have ljs or some such.

And she actually does have a pretty extensive knowledge. Certainly not exhaustive, but she's an incredibly well-respected Prof. and she's not the only one who thinks this book is pretty flawed.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mandy12052
Date:February 14th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ah I see. Well if she's not the only one who thinks the book is pretty flawed then my point is moot, as I was merely saying that it is better to avoid taking someone's opinion as the final word if you don't know of anyone else who shares the opinion. But, seeing as that's not the case... yeah.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:gorey_ballerina
Date:February 13th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'll echo everyone else here: you're a smartie, so don't beat yourself up!

I think everyone in academia has at least a moment (or two, or five, in my case) where you basically go "D'OH!!!" And then, you automatically question whether you're "cut out" for the degree. :/

(And I hope you've recovered from the flu! Happy thoughts to you!)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:lollardfish
Date:February 13th, 2007 10:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Dozens of times in my case. And yet, I just picked up my framed ph.d. certificate from the framers all shiny and, well, real!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Ah. Now i have a yardstick with which to measure reality. There is a direct proportion between reality and the shiny-framedness of one's PhD.

{/me files that away for her memoirs}
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:lollardfish
Date:February 13th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hee. I just keep expecting an email from someone telling me there are more forms to fill out or they will come and take it back.

I'd love to hear more about your project if you ever get over around Macalester for coffee. I can't really make it to the U. much anymore as my non-work time is all taken up with the new baby and his mother.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm not much in St. Paul these days, car-less wonder that i am (though i used to live over there), but i'm sure coffee could be arranged. Any input into the burgeoning dissertation nightmare is more than welcome.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:lollardfish
Date:February 14th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
(Link)
Pretty much any MWF we could meet at the Coffee News, the lefty coffee shop in St. Paul that everyone (including me) likes. Except the next two mondays when I'll be off on job interviews in NYC And Chicago respectively.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 14th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yar, i reckon i know where that is and typically i'm free WF at least. You can, of course, poke me on my phone via LJ and all that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrousoxide
Date:February 13th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Feeling much better, thank you. Looks like everyone at the U has some bug or other. Two of the 8 of us in my History class were out with it today.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)