18 September 2009

Time is running out, I'm standing still

The third week of school is now officially over. I've officially run out of the 'free' $20.00 pay-for-print that we get for each term, meaning that I've printed over 200 pages. Most of it is for my SMP, which is steadily consuming all of my free time. More on this subject a bit later. First, a recap:

Classes have been going well. I've already given three presentations in Historiography and have two scheduled for next week. My Terrorism class is absolutely fab (as a certain former professor of mine was fond of saying) and I am having dinner with my professor on Monday in order to find out about his life. Archaeological Analysis is turning me into a ceramic experts. I now know more than I ever possibly wanted to know about 17th, 18th, and 19th century pottery. I also now know how to process, clean, and bag artifacts. Pottery. brick, and prehistoric arrowheads can be washed. Nails, iron, and all mortar needs to be dry-brushed. Both thrilling processes, especially when performed at 8:30 in the morning. Please note the considerable sarcastic overtones.

In all seriousness, everything is going well. The work itself is not tasking in the least, but the amount of work is, especially when added with the time spent in class. It took considerable coordination on the part of Karen and myself in order to find five hours a week in our schedules to go to archaeology lab. Most extracurricular activities have gone by the wayside this semester as I simply do not have the time. Luckily, I still can find time to go to the gym, which means that the stress hasn't been too bad. Yet.

What has been rather stressful is my SMP. After considerable contemplation and internal struggle, I realized that my interest in the Jacobites was nowhere what it needed to be in order to sustain me through a year-long project. While it seemed such a waste to simply set aside four months of research on the topic, I ultimately decided that it would be for the best. I will now be tracing the development in causal theories of the bubonic plague in England between 1347-1700 using plague tracts. I have a narrower idea as to what I will be looking at it, but care not to devulge all of my secrets just yet. For those who read this blog and are not yet aware, I am something of a plague expert. I made my first report on the plague in sixth grade and have been steadily developing my knowledge since then. In Oxford when my friends and I were studying for the integral exam, we each prepared a presentation on three topics so as to increase the general knowledge of the group. My plague presentation lasted an hour and, as I have been told, was 'more comprehensive than the original presentation'. Whenever anyone has a 'black plague' question (which is, admittedly, not that often), they come to me.

I think that there are some general misconceptions about what the SMP is. The St. Mary's Project is not merely a 'project' - a title which is incredibly misleading. In the end, it is a independent research endeavor that culminates in an 80-100 page paper and public presentation. It used to be required for all history majors, but is now elective. I knew that the entire thing would be hard going when I decided to do it. I had no idea just how hard until this week. My first task was to prepare a bibliography for my SMP in a week. I did so and came up with something along the lines of 81 sources. I thought that I had done quite well and was rather pleased with myself (if a bit worried that perhaps I had veered off in a completely different direction, as I sometimes am wont to do). Imagine my shock when I was informed that I need to have MORE sources and that my bibliography was not quite comprehensive enough!!! It was then that I knew this semester was going to be a ballbuster. I have a feeling that it is going to be a war between my SMP and myself in the end. Only one of us will come out on top. Hopefully it is me.

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