[Synoptic-L] Follow-up on advisor problems
- I'd like to thank everyone again for all the advice concerning my situation.
Yesterday I finally got an email from my advisor, after nine months'
silence. He claims that I did not adequately incorporate the changes he
asked me to make after reading an earlier version, but he unfortunately did
not tell me which changes he thinks I didn't make. (I'd be very surprised
if he could list anything substantial. I'd even be surprised if I missed
At any rate, he's giving me a choice: either (1) accept the D.H.L. (Doctor
of Hebrew Letters) in place of the Ph.D. and graduate this May, or (2) jump
through a very difficult course of hoops, consisting of revising the
dissertation yet again, submitting each of seven chapters one at a time (not
submitting another chapter until I've gotten the "clear" from all five
readers on the last one), and do it all by February 2006. It's clear from
my past dealings with my advisor that he is not sincere in calling this an
"option": he means for me to lose out on the chance to earn my Ph.D.
I don't think I mentioned in my earlier posts that I spent several years
under the impression that my proposal had been accepted in an earlier form,
and that the first two versions of my dissertation were based on an outline
that had never been accepted. My advisor had led me to believe that my
proposal had been accepted, and he never bothered to tell me, even when
discussing my first two versions with me face to face, that it had never
passed. I only learned that it hadn't passed because my dean sent me an
email a year and a half ago asking when I was going to resubmit my proposal.
Yet, in the letter he sent me yesterday, my advisor considers those two
early versions of the dissertation to be two strikes against me, and makes
himself out to be generous in allowing me a fourth chance.
It's been clear to me for a long time that my advisor doesn't like me. I
first noticed this years ago in a course he taught on "Apocalyptic
Literature". Once when he listed a few secondary readings relevant to a
particular aspect of apocalyptic, I mentioned a more recent discussion, and
he immediately waved his hand in my direction and reprovingly quipped "Maybe
you should be teaching this course!" (not in a complimentary tone).
I recall sitting through the session discussing my second version, and
hearing my advisor tell me to change such-and-such in such-and-such a way.
I kept my mouth shut, but the change he wanted me to make was back to the
way I had written it in my first version, which he had earlier instructed me
to change to the way in which it now read in the second version! I knew at
that moment that he was disagreeing with what I wrote just in order to
disagree with it.
It's really unfortunate that there are people like my advisor out there in
academia. And it's doubly unfortunate that one can begin a program at a
school at a time when said advisor is not even employed there, and then get
shackled with him.
I've decided to cut my losses and take the D.H.L.
Maybe I should've been a cowboy instead.
John C. Poirier
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