Thursday, May 31, 2007

classes round-up

Today was my official last day of classes for the quarter. Because the professor of the Mahfouz course is away this week in Istanbul, the class is supposed to have a make-up next week. Otherwise, I'm done with classes.

My last final exam - Arabic - is scheduled for Friday, but it's optional. Basically, if one's satisfied with their grades from the previous quarters then, he/she doesn't need to take the exam this week. However, if one isn't satisfied and wishes to improve their final grade, then, the Friday's exam is offered as an opportunity to do so. I did very well during the previous two quarters. After much thought, I decided to not take the exam. So, with regards to finals that's it.

I had a pleasant conversation with my secondary reader on Tuesday regarding my thesis. He gave me an A. He said it is wordy, redundant in areas and has a few grammatical mistakes, but overall it is good. I'm in the process of making the corrections now. Writing, he stated, is a life-long exercise. The key now, he said, is to improve my Arabic to a level that will allow me to use Arabic primary sources instead of translations. He encouraged me to photocopy pages from a primary Arabic text on the Mamluks (like one of the biographies of the Sultan Baybars) and to try to read it. It will be like pulling teeth at first, he said, but with practice I'll become familiar with common words and I should begin to become better. In addition, I must learn a variety of other languages if I wish to become a scholar on the history of the Mamluks. I studied French for only a little over a year and I'm rusty. In addition to French, I would need to become competent in at least German and Italian. Because one of my interests is the Byzantine Empire, Greek might be needed too. Honestly, in the course of writing the thesis I have entertained the idea (once again) of going for a Ph.D. It's just an idea but it's one I've harbored for several years now. In fact, ever since my Vassar days. I have felt excited about my thesis topic and there's so much that I didn't cover and that I have yet to explore. It's just an idea, but it's an idea that has excited me during these past few weeks and has given me some hope . . . some yearning to continue pressing forward with the belief that despite my health I'll overcome it and live to fulfill a goal, a mission, a dream. Moreover, during the past week I have purchased several of the books that I used as sources (that were borrowed from the library) for my thesis expecting that I may wish to expand my thesis while at home in the Bronx. The fact that I purchased these books is a tangible sign that I hope to continue to work on this topic in the future . . . a future that does not include Hodgkin's.

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