I met with one of my committee members this week and, among other things, got feedback on two of my reading lists for the qualifying exams I'll be taking in the year ahead. I wasn't sure what to expect -- he's the first committee member I've met with, and my advisor and I worked them over pretty extensively, so I was bracing for a lot of changes, but they were pretty minimal. Whew. Three more committee members to go.
I'm going to update the lists as I go with visible redactions and additions to try and show the process of finalizing them. The overal strategy so far has been to develop four areas of study that are specialized enough to relate to my dissertation and interests, but also general enough to serve as the foundations for four class syllabi I'll write after taking my exams. These will be useful when I go on the job market eventually ("Hey Ma, look what I can teach!") but also help me think through the material from another angle. (One of the things I've really dug about teaching so far is how it helps me learn the material better.)
Given this, the lists at this point are a mix of things I've already studied, things I should study that are core to the areas, and things I just am damn itchin' to read. At our meeting this week I got another take on quals lists: They also serve a personal function as "everything I know" lists.
Maybe it's an acada-geek thing, but I cracked up and toally understood the concept of needing a list to remind you of what all you know...