Preparing Reading Lists for Comps
Aug. 19th, 2009 @ 07:22 pm
(I looked through the histories for posts relating to this issue, but couldn't find anything. On the other hand, if there was something there and and I overlooked it, I apologize and give the moderator full right to delete this.)
I will be taking my comprehensive exams this year (most likely May/June). I want to come into the quarter (which starts later next month) with at least some basic reading lists for various themes in modern European history. I have to admit, though, I am a little overwhelmed. I'm not sure a) how many books I should start with (I have no doubt my committee members will want to add more) and how I should go about picking books (especially since there are so many out there). I'm excited about spending this year absorbing everything, but I'm not sure how develop a list without either wondering what I'm missing or giving myself too many books to read.
Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks so much for reading this!
|Date:||August 20th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)|| |
If you can, get lists from former (or current) students who have already passed - we have 3 orals (two minor fields & the big one), and passing around lists really helped. There are invariably going to be massive differences, but at least in my department, there's definitely a 'core' list that should be on there, whatever your actual research interests.
Length and such is going to depend on your department - I don't think there's one set standard!
Thanks for the suggestion!
We have 4 committee members and the list are really based on the theme that we develop with them (so, mine will most likely be Spanish history, French Rev-nineteenth century, European medical history, and women and gender . .). Although, I think I will start by asking the ABD folks in my field for lists . . .
|Date:||August 20th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)|| |
Ah, sounds like you have everything rolled into one - our two minor orals in our secondary fields are not done at the same time as our major field exam (thank god!). Still, having an idea of lists, how people organize them (also really important!) is useful, plus you'll more than likely see stuff on other lists you weren't aware of/thinking of that you can put on yours.
You should talk to your advisor about this, or a friend from an older cohort who's gone through this. My department had specific guidelines about the number of books, and at least some of the future examiners had lists of core books in their field they expected students to be familiar with. So yeah, ask.
Yeah, I think I'm going to talk to some of the dissertating folks to see what they put on their lists . . . but I can't seem to find anything on the department website that suggests a specific number of books . . we shall see . .
Heh. I did speak to my advisor . . . she was pretty vague. :-)
It sounds like that's what they do in my department, too. Hence, the omg-so-many-books-so-little-time feeling. :)
25-75.... per professor? Or per list? My smallest (of 5) lists for comps had 77; the largest was somewhere around 140...
My advisor thought I could get through all 500+ in 2.5 months, while teaching. After I (and some of my colleagues) convinced him that he was totally insane, it was more like 1.5 semesters.
SOme schools post lists on their websites. You could just google around like "women/gender comprehensive reading list" and see what comes up. But talking with students who passed in similar fields is the most helpful.
I might do this as well. I vaguely seem to recall that there was one particular school that actually published the history comp exams lists of its students, but I can't seem to remember the school . .
|Date:||August 20th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)|| |
Try U. of Maryland - College Park. Under their grad student organization pages.
Thanks! I will look there as well!
Rutgers put up a pretty comprehensive, although now slightly outdated, list on their website for a few fields. I looked at them and picked out ones for general edification, but it might be helpful?
Oh! Thanks! I'll take a look at those-- they'll probably give me some ideas and most likely have some commonly read books, anyway.
Yeah, I was going to suggest Rutgers' history comps lists for you, too. I'd agree with the last commenter - they're not totally up-to-date, but they're arranged by themes and time periods and are useful. I used them to start developing my comparative women's history list.
And something I neglected to mention earlier when we were talking - if at all possible, try to get your profs to agree on themes. It's helpful for a few reasons - it's easier to choose books if you're the one who has to find them; it's easier to develop potential questions and potential answers; and it makes the actual writing/answering process go a bit easier. At least, it did for me, since I could group readings together much faster, especially for orals.
People like David are all into just adding books based on time-periods, and for Spain that's probably not a bad idea, but especially for your non-modern Spain list, it's a heck of a lot easier to study for comps and answer questions if you have things organized by themes. (Of course, you'll want to talk with Carolyn about themes, too, because if you can get her to develop questions based around mutually-accepted themes, you'll probably feel better.)
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