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A Map of Orals (A sign of things to COME)

November 12, 2010

Reading for orals. For those of you not in graduate school in year 3 or 4 of a graduate studies we are required to read anywhere between 250 and 350 books. The books are divided into four lists. Mine are Colonial, 19th Century, Modern Latin America, and migration to the United States. At the end of the year four professors ask you broad, but difficult questions.

It’s a long, draining, anxiety filled, but segun, enriching process. My friend’s list (click Here) provides a cartography of the roller coaster that is “Orals.” Coffee stains are scattered on the page, the list of books are crossed out, not with one gentle and clean line, but with multiple horizontal, and not so horizontal lines. Each a visual indicator of his experience with the various books: “I hated this book,” “finally, I thought it was never going to end,” or optimistically “wow, so brilliant, so brilliant, onto the next book.” And of course, “yes, I finished you off, now to go enjoy myself before the start of another reading filled day.”  The lines are just the start. The paper has been folded and stuffed into books, a bag, the back of jean pocket, and I suspect rolled into a ball and thrown across a room, a desk, at a computer, who knows maybe even into the trash. It has been lost in coffee shops, the library, and rooms across the campus. Its had a hard journey. The very integrity of the once pristine 8 by 5 sheet of paper is in serious danger. In a few weeks it won’t matter. My friend will surely pass his orals and move onto the next taxing (maybe rewarding) task of graduate school and the list will be rolled into a ball one more time and thrown para la……

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Julia L permalink
    November 12, 2010 2:37 pm

    I’ve seen the list! I love this. Yes, it’s a grueling process and in the end you run the risk of your brain becoming blank in the worst possible moment. After all, however, your professors are not after you and will help out. They’re as interested as you are in getting you out of campus and into the archives… And of course, they don’t wanna have to get together again for 2 hours and think of ridiculously tricky questions to ask some sweaty and blushed student. Good luck!

  2. January 7, 2011 5:57 am

    jajaja that’s a funny picture

    • romeo permalink*
      January 7, 2011 6:02 am

      hahjajajaj. yup…and that was the most intact of the list…the fool is done with orals….

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  1. Imaginary Orals Questions (a la pocho) « Pocho in Greater Mexico

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