Christmas “Break”

It’s an odd feeling when you look forward to the end of term so that you can finally get some work done. Michaelmas Term was so full of seminars and lectures and finding one’s feet that there never seemed to be quite enough time to collect one’s thoughts before starting off again. So a six-week Christmas Break provides a much needed lull in order to regroup, make a To Do list, and attack one’s reading lists.

(In theory. In practice, never quite as productive as planned.)

For those of us even half-considering signing up for another three years of the whirlwind that is postgraduate life, Christmas Break is also the time for completing doctoral applications, in which we attempt the seemingly impossible task of sketching out a full-scale research project on the basis of whatever we’ve managed to learn in the past two months, madly footnoting in an effort to sound like we know what we’re talking about. The most difficult part, of course, is finding a topic one is prepared to live with for several years. After too many afternoons in the library chasing elusive research ideas, I’ve ended up, somewhat unoriginally, stretching my master’s dissertation topic (the one thing I really know anything about at this point) just enough chronologically and geographically to turn it into a doctoral topic. Now all that remains is to turn it into a convincing proposal of 500 to 1000 words . . .

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