Comps and Carbs

Yikes. It has been a hot minute since I’ve published anything over here. Pretty much the first half of my PhD has gone by without so much as an update. I finished my Master’s degree in May 2020 (yes, please shake your head sympathetically), and began my PhD in fall of 2020. I just finished coursework in December, and today is my first day of studying for my comprehensive exams.

So here we are, day one. What are comprehensive exams, you ask? For an English PhD, they are a series of four lists, two short lists and two long lists. Short lists have 7-8 works on them, while long lists have about 15 works. My lists are as follows: Early American (short); 19th Century American (long); 20th Century American (short); and Ecocriticism/Ecofeminism/New Materialism (long).

Today I began my Early American short list. If you are interested in reading along with me on anything, I’ll include the list below. My goal is to complete this list in 2-2.5 weeks. Most works I will only spend one day on.

  • On Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford
  • The New English Canaan by Thomas Morton
  • Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan
  • Selected Poems of Anne Bradstreet
  • Selected Poems of Phyllis Wheatley Peters
  • Selected Puritan Sermons
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Moby Dick by Herman Mellville

The unifying theme of this list is Puritan theology/ideology and those who both adhered to Puritan beliefs and those who reacted against those beliefs, but still wrote in the shadow of Puritan influence on early American culture.

From time to time over the next four months as I read, I’ll share some updates on what I’m reading, what I’m cooking, and my thoughts on the overall scenery change, moving from course work to comps work. I’m not good with unstructured time, so this season of PhD life will be quite a challenge.

A few things I made over the holidays – very carb-heavy, because what else are the holidays for, but to eat lots of carbohydrates and delicious things!

I’ve decided that risotto is my love language. You can see below a luxurious butternut risotto I made a few weeks back, followed by the best lasagna recipe in the world, from Alexandra Cooks, her roasted butternut lasagna.

For New Year’s Eve, my partner and I had a quiet night in, where we made our favorite of Samin Nosrat’s seasonal panzanellas, her winter recipe, and the New York Times‘s delicious Brussels Sprouts au gratin. I’m vegetarian, but my partner made himself a ribeye steak as well. You can also see below the start of a pear, apple, and cranberry tarte tatin.

What are you eating and reading this new year? I’d love to hear about it 🙂