I've been using this blog as a way to keep all of our friends and family up to date on our life here in England. For the most part, my posts have been about the places we have gone, the people we have met, and our overall experiences with the English. Now that my first year of my Ph.D. program is officially over, it is now time to provide an update on where I am at with my Ph.D. studies.
I think I should also tell you, albeit briefly, what I am researching for my Ph.D. In a nut shell - home cooking. I am looking at how food was prepared and consumed in the everyday life of your average ancient Israelite. I am using archaeology and will then take a look at the passages in the Old Testament that mention the cooking and eating of food in a home setting. I hope this helps!
The first year you are considered a Master of Philosophy student until, by the end of the first year, you meet the requirements to upgrade to be a Ph.D. candidate. The requirements consist of: earning 30 credits, turning in a working outline, bibliography, and abstract of your dissertation by December, writing two large papers which are to be parts of a chapter of your dissertation, one of which you are to present to the department in the Spring.
The first semester consisted of taking two courses: the Biblical Studies post-graduate module and German for research; participating in two reading groups: Hebrew and history / archaeology of the Hebrew Bible. The courses were a means to acquire the necessary credits for the program. The History reading group, on the other hand, was something that I looked forward to. We meet every other week (a fortnight!) at the University Arms Pub which is a pub on campus for Univ. staff and post-graduates (i.e., Master's and Ph.D. students). Someone would provide an article to read and we would get together at this pub, buy a beer or cider, and sit and discuss the article at hand. I think as an American, this concept of discussing your field in a pub with a Guinness or whatever, was what England is all about. The first year I finalized my working outline, bibliography, and abstract of my dissertation, which was due in December. I also researched the archaeological sites I want to use as a case study. It was a good semester, but not as productive as I thought it would be.
During the second semester I was no longer required to take any more courses. Although, I did sit in on two courses in the Archaeology department: Zooarchaeology/ Botanical Remains and From Households to Empires. Both pertain to my subject and were helpful to my overall research project. I wrote my first large paper and presented it to the department in April, which went really well. My advisor, Diana, then suggested that I expand this paper instead of doing a second, smaller paper and have it be my first chapter. I did this and turned it in as part of my upgrade. So, now I can say my first chapter is done and am officially a Ph.D. candidate.
I also able to do a little work for the department in the second semester. Sheffield Phoenix Press is through our department and published books on various BIblical Studies topics. I have been doing some order entries for them from home. I also have become the new editorial assistant for the academic journal Biblical Interpretation, which is also through our department. I am one of three at the moment, but will be taking the place of one who will be finishing her degree soon. At the moment, I am learning the ropes of copy editing.
This summer promises to be a productive one, although not a very exciting one. I decided to put off my research in Israel until next year due to the fact that I need to get this second chapter done on my archaeological methodology first. Consequently, the goal this summer is to research (which is what I am doing now) and write my second chapter on my archaeological methodology. I think I may also try to write a short article and get that approved for publication. This, however, is not my priority. I do want to have published an article or two by the time I finish my degree, but that must come second to my studies. From now on, I will research and write one chapter at a time until I am done, which I hope to complete the program in the 3 years total. However, many of my fellow students are taking a fourth year and this seems to be the norm. I am not planning on doing a fourth year; I am aiming to finish in 3, but is nice to know that the 4th year is there if necessary.
Rob and I are planning some trips for this summer. We hope to spend a weekend down south in Oxford where I can do some research and we can seek out Tolkien's old stomping grounds. Rob is a fan of the 'Lord of the Rings' and has had this on his list of places to see while we are here. We also plan on visiting our friend, Dave, who is currently living in Riga, Latvia. We hope to go in August. My parents will visit in September and we will spend a couple days in Edinburgh, Scotland while they are here. With the rise of fuel costs, we are not expecting many visitors this summer; but if you do fancy a visit, this summer would be best since I will probably be in Israel next summer.
Well, there you have it - my update on my studies. Enjoy...