Tag Archives: gayatri spivak

How the Promise Keepers Killed My Masters Thesis

Promise Keepers logoI’m a little tongue in cheek here, emphasis on cheek. Call this a cautionary tale; as it is, it’s taken me 18 years to write it down anywhere, and that is saying something for a dedicated memoirist.

There’s a lot from my early twenties that I regret, or would at least like to see in do-over. On the other hand, my many, many mistakes have brought me to my life at 42, and with a supportive, charming partner, my adorable child, and burgeoning writing career I can’t say making youthful mistakes has doomed me. But long before I learned that being respected was more important than having people like me, I enjoyed a litany of self-made errors.

Let’s take graduate school. The very reason I found applying to postgraduate work appealing was my extreme fear of entering the “real world.” This is frightening as a trope for college seniors, I get that, but in the past year I’d just come out, been gaybashed, accidentally broken my leg in three places and dealt with devastating news in my family, and trying to succeed outside of an academic institution seemed overwhelming. I’d gotten it into my head that I could stick around my now-familiar campus at Syracuse and continue to bloviate about cultural theory for another two years–and after that, I could go on and get my Ph.D. Anxiety attack solved.

Being a teaching assistant was thrilling, especially in the midst of an excited discussion with students, less so when I came face-to-face with their response papers. We were supposed to keep the curriculum contemporary in order to keep students engaged. More than one student rebelled against charged conversations about vivisection, reproductive rights, the electoral college, and the like, but I found my way through such ephemeral controversy. Even if I had to explain myself to the rhetoric and composition program director. Twice.  Read More…

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