Let's be honest. Posts of late have been sporadic, meandering, and oddly focused. But unlike usual, they've also had a sense of apocalyptic doom. The comp is three weeks away, and the closer the date comes, the more I descend into a nightmare of insomniac nights, bizarre sleeping routines, and an increasing certainty that I know nothing, and I'm going to fail miserably.
But right now, I'm feeling pretty good.
Today was the first day of a course I'm auditing. The professor couldn't make it (conference), and asked me to conduct the class. She did all the work: she printed off the syllabus, chose the readings, and even left a power-point presentation complete with sound clips of her explaining the course and subject. But the interactive part, leading discussions and focusing material, was all me.
Today I conducted my first grad seminar. Man, that feels good to say.
In case my bubbling enthusiasm wasn't a hint, it went really well. Granted, the technology was a bit off, but not so much as to derail things completely. We had some really great discussions on the readings (McLuhan and Metz, if you're curious). There was a very interesting dynamic--first, it was a five person class, counting me, which meant it was still small enough that everyone not only got a chance to talk, but pretty much had to talk, to keep things moving. But what was more interesting is the power dynamic. I had authority, but it was clearly an invested authority. I think this power shift let the others speak a little more freely--they felt like they could engage and challenge the ideas in the texts a little more than if a full professor was managing things. I thought the discussion was a lot healthier as a result; it's a balance I'd like to maintain if (when!) I lead such a course again.
Even though I was totally operating with a safety net, it really felt like I hit a milestone today. And it put the comp exam a little more into perspective. After four straight months of studying, I think I started to see the exam as this big monolithic THING that encompassed my entire being. Today reminded me that it isn't the most important thing in the world, or even the most important thing in my academic career. It's a milestone, yes, and a big one, but it's also a step on the road to other things.
Best part? Just prior to class, when I'm setting things up, one of my fellow students (who I hadn't met before) comes up to me and asks for permission to take the course. She totally thought I *was* the professor. Professional image win.