Thesis Works-In-Progress and Why It Might Be Better Than Prom (?)

Thesis Works-In-Progress: It's really more like a tea party with friends.

Thesis Works-In-Progress is fast approaching and I’m sure that there are many of you out there going back and forth on whether or not you want to participate. That’s fair. I realize that in my original e-mail about the event, while I did an okay job describing what the event itself would be like, I never actually gave you all some solid reasons to participate. So, lest my lack of reasoning (but not really) be the reason why you haven’t sent me your proposal, here are the reasons why you absolutely SHOULD participate in this event. I hope I’ve covered every category of MAPHer at this point in the year, but if you’re in a place that I haven’t discussed, by all means, let me know.

1. If you are planning/hoping/thinking about going on to a Ph.D. program next year:

If this is you, your proposal should already be in my Inbox. Presenting your work (and what will probably become your writing sample) at ANY conference this year can only help your application. Not only because it will be another line on your CV and a good indication that you take your work and your professional development as a scholar seriously, but also because presenting your project can actually make it better. As some of you may have already realized over the past few months, talking with people about your work can have an incredibly positive impact on your thought organization. Just being forced to answer that constant question at family events–“and what are you working on in grad school?”–can be a helpful way to practice succinctly and coherently describing the crux of your project. So if even THAT can be helpful, then presenting your work in front of your colleagues and peers, with thoughtful feedback and questions afterwards, takes that usefulness to a whole new level.

(or maybe this isn’t you and you need to….keep reading after the jump)

2. If you don’t even want to touch a Ph.D. program with a ten-foot pole and are planning to start a job after MAPH:

Believe it or not, you may even be MORE in need of presenting at the MAPH mini-conference than the Ph.D. folks. Why? Because they have four or eleven more years to hone their presentation skills and learn how to succinctly articulate a large scale project. You, on the other hand, are going out into the world basically tomorrow and having “solid presentation skills” as a line on your resume (i.e., I presented at a conference and held my own) is an invaluable addition to the transferrable skills you’re getting from MAPH this year. Being uncomfortable speaking in front of groups is an understandable anxiety, but it’s one that you need to start facing and overcoming if you’re entering the professional job market. Just think of ALL the jobs you’ll need public speaking skills for (like community college/other teaching, for instance?).

3. If you have no idea what you’re doing next year/can’t even begin to think about the future because it gives you agita/are scared out of your mind about this project and feel like you’ll never get it done by May 21st:

Friends, you are actually the ones who will benefit most from Thesis Works-In-Progress. If there’s anything you’ve learned over the past year, we hope it’s that MAPH is an incredibly supportive community–whether it’s your core group of friends, your precept, or the larger MAPH staff and student body. If you’re struggling with your project right now (and believe me, I was completely there, as are plenty of your fellow-MAPHers right now), the best thing to do is force yourself to organize enough of those idea threads to present your struggles to your friends and larger cohort. This is such a laid-back, stress-free event that presenting will be easy. The harder thing to do will be to admit at the start of your presentation that you’re struggling with a particular section, or your entire draft is written but it still feels like you have no argument. But by admitting that at the start, that will allow those of us listening to provide you with potentially incredibly useful feedback and questions so that you can move toward a super successful end result.

So, bottom line, no matter where you are at in your project or how you are feeling about your future at this moment, Thesis Works-In-Progress will be absolutely beneficial to your project and its progress. Remember: proposals are due MONDAY, APRIL 30th to me. And, even if you really, really, really feel like you can’t present for some reason, remember to stop by on Thursday, May 3rd in Classics 21 between 3:00PM and 6:00PM to support your friends and get some cheese.

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