I've been meaning to say this for a while...thanks a lot Cindy and Torill for putting me on your blogrolls (and to other folks who link to me). It means a lot, especially in light of this intellectual slump I've been in lately. I got some comments on my seminar papers last semester that were, while definitely intending to be constructive and helpful, a little alarming having to do with my authoritative voice or lack thereof. I've been wondering if I have any voice at all, anything meaningful to say at all. I wonder if I have any innovative opinions other than I agree with this or I don't agree with that. I know it's a common sentiment in grad school, and Cindy's June 11 post (permalinks in Blogger don't seem to be working so well) makes me feel less alone. Here's an excerpt:
There is a lot of discussion going on at baraita, Frogs and Ravens, and elsewhere about the ability of grad school to destroy the intellectual self-confidence of students. As someone who experienced this, I'm always happy to jump on the grad school bashing bandwagon, but I'm also self-aware enough to recognize that some of the personal demons I was harboring helped the process along. Nonetheless, the number of blogs I'm discovering which either focus primarily on what I'll call "the grad school blues" or which return to the subject again and again tell me that my experience of grad school as a largely gloomy part of my history isn't entirely a self-created reality.
Nor can I say good things did not happen in grad school. It is, of course, where I discovered my love of teaching. It is where I met my best friend. It is where I discovered I am--or perhaps where I named myself--a feminist. But it is also where I often felt isolated, intimidated, and small. It is where I learned what intellectual masturbation is. It is where I cried myself to sleep many nights because I didn't believe I was good enough to be there. And while a few wonderful professors did everything they could to instill in me a sense of worth, neither I nor any of my friends ever felt the department nor the profession as a whole gave a damn; hence, the systemic problem, no, illness, noted at Naomi Chana's blog.
To change the subject to something more imminent than the future of my voice, I'm in the process of moving to an apartment down the hall with my friend Jessica, and I'm still working frenetically on my syllabus. I met with Sandra Becker, the Course Coordinator for Rhetoric 3562, and now my head is swimming. She was great about answering all my MANY questions. I'm seriously considering using Bernadette Longo's idea of having each student be the manager of another student. It sounds like a good way to ensure accountability. Bernadette's course materials are excellent; I recommend looking at them if you're teaching technical communication or want to someday. She told me I can use anything I want from her materials too, which was wonderful of her.