Time and grad school


in Daily updates

Any delusions I had about being able to do original scholarly research as a doctoral student have been dispelled by the first month of school. Just staying on top of the reading for the courses I am taking and teaching uses up virtually all the time I have to allocate. I will probably need to suspend my longstanding practice of reading The Economist completely each week, and pray that I will be inspired to advance research of my own during the breaks between terms.

Note: all this is while working as a TA, not commuting, and not needing to worry about buying or preparing food. I can’t imagine how anyone keeps up with coursework and does research while working part time, commuting, or managing with serious family obligations.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah October 7, 2012 at 9:47 am

Sounds familiar. Time available for not-related-to-what-you-are-doing-right-now reading is far less for academics than for those in most other jobs, because our work fills much of the so-called leisure time anyway.

Milan October 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm
Milan October 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm

This may be of some interest:


It’s a presentation for my Canadian politics seminar on the readings we were assigned on First Nations politics.

Now on to writing a critical review of Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor.

Milan October 16, 2012 at 11:34 am
Milan October 16, 2012 at 11:35 am
Milan October 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

One consequence of the length of reading lists for many university courses is that a person is forced to read quickly. Even the most diligent student needs to sleep, eat, manage the requirements of a full courseload, and quite possibly work to support themselves and/or their family.

While perhaps inevitable, I think this situation is unfortunate. Quite often, while I am working to get through a thick book or stack of photocopies, I am fully aware that I could get more value from the text if I had the freedom to read it more slowly and to really think about the claims being made before moving on to others.

Generally speaking, it would probably be helpful if professors assigned fewer courses to their students – and if academics made more of an effort to be concise.

Milan October 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm
Milan October 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

“It is a well-known fact in any organization that, if you want a job done, you should give it to someone who is already very busy. It has been the cause of a number of homicides, and in one case the death of a senior director from having his head shut repeatedly in quite a small filing cabinet.”

From Terry Pratchett’s “Unseen Academicals”

Milan October 23, 2012 at 11:01 am

I have more-or-less worked out a schedule (PDF) that should allow me to get everything done in the 168 hours available each week.

The big type describes the day’s priority readings. The smaller type lists specific obligations on the day.

GEP is global environmental politics; IR is international relations; CANPOL is Canadian politics.

Milan November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Papers to grade, papers to write
And never enough time for the reading I must do

Milan November 9, 2012 at 8:25 am
Milan November 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm
Milan November 20, 2012 at 11:37 am
Milan December 6, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Drafts of my term paper (due tomorrow):

Any timely suggestions for improvement would be much appreciated.

oleh December 7, 2012 at 11:46 am

I look forward to reading your term paper on Global Environmental Politics for POL413 this weekend.

Milan December 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm
Milan January 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm
Milan January 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm
Milan January 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Readings for my Canadian politics seminar next week:

Lori Hausegger, Matthew Hennigar and Try Riddell, Canadian Courts: Law, Politics and Process (OUP, 2009), chapters 2, 4, 7, 8, 11

Ran Hirschl, “Canada’s Contribution to the Comparative Study of Rights and Judicial Review” The Comparative T urn in Canadian Political Science (UBC Press, 2008), pp. 77-98

Rainer Knopff and F.L. Morton, The Charter Revolution and the Court Party (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2000), chapters 3,4.

David Robertson, The Judge as a Political Theorist (OUP, 2010), ch. 5

Donald Songer. The Transformation of the Supreme Court of Canada. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008). Ch 1, 3, 6.

Paper topic: Have the debates about “the Charter Revolution” diverted academic attention away other important issues about the courts and the judicial system?

Milan February 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm
Milan February 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Here is the final version

Thanks to Clara and Sara for helping me do the final proofreading over lunch.

Milan February 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I have yet another 5-7 page paper due for this class on Thursday.

This time, the topic is: “Are Canadian divisions best resolved through constitutional means or through other means?”

My immediate response is to ask who says Canadian divisions can be resolved at all…

Milan February 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm

My paper for today’s core Canadian politics seminar:

Are Canadian divisions best resolved through constitutional means or through other means?

Milan February 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I fear this is far from my best work, though it had to be produced during a week in which there are many, many other demands on my time:

Book review: Boyce Richardson’s Strangers Devour the Land

Now to print it, run to class, run to the 350.org termly general meeting and elections, and run back to Massey to continue with my grading and Thursday’s essay…

Milan February 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm

After ten straight hours of non-stop grading, I now need to read the following and write a 5-7 page paper on them by noon tomorrow:

  • Martin Papillon, “Is the Secret to Have a Good Dentist? Canadian Contributions to the Comparative Study of Federalism in Divided Societies,” in White, et al., The Comparative Turn
  • Jennifer Wallner, “Empirical Evidence and Pragmatic Explanations: Canada’s Contributions to Comparative Federalism,” ibid.
  • Samuel V. LaSelva, The Moral Foundations of Canadian Federalism (Montreal and Kingston: M-QUP, 1996), chapters 1 and 10.
  • Herman Bakvis and Grace Skogstad, “Canadian Federalism: Performance, Effectiveness and Legitimacy,” in Bakvis and Skogstad, eds., Canadian Federalism: Performance, Effectiveness and Legitimacy 2nd ed. (Toronto: OUP, 2008), chapters 1 and 18.
  • Richard Simeon, “Plus Ça Change … Intergovernmental Relations Then and Now,” Policy Options March-April 2005, 84-7.
  • Richard Simeon, Political Science and Federalism: Seven Decades of Scholarly Engagement (Kingston: Queen’s University Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, 2002).

The notes from yesterday’s Toronto350.org termly general meeting are now online, as well.

Milan February 28, 2013 at 11:42 am

Uninspired by the paper topic interpreted directly, I shifted my paper for this week’s Canadian politics core seminar into a preliminary discussion about federalism and climate change in Canada:

Does the Canadian study of federalism suffer from too much or too little theory?

I may be expanding on the topic for my term paper, so comments would be especially appreciated.

Milan March 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Readings for today’s ‘Incomplete Conquests’ seminar:

Quebec’s Quiet Revolution Launches Mega Constitutional Politics

What were Quebec’s constitutional aspirations from Confederation to 1960? Why did Quebec change from being constitutionally conservative to constitutionally radical and what were the consequences of that change for Canada’s constitutional politics? What light does the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and its implementation throw on the incomplete conquest thesis? How does the clash of Canadian nationalism and Quebec nationalism affect Canada’s constitutional politics?

  • Brunet, Michel, “The French Canadians’ Search for a Fatherland,” in Peter H. Russell, ed., Nationalism in Canada, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1966
  • Cook, Ramsay, Canada, Quebec, and the Uses of Nationalism, McClelland & Stewart, 1986
  • Johnson, Daniel, Egalite ou independence, Les Editions de l”Homme, 1965
  • McRoberts, Kenneth, Quebec: Social Change and and Political Crisis, 3rd ed., McClelland & Stewart, 1988.
  • Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, A Preliminary Report, Queen’s Printer, 1965.
  • Russell, Peter H., Constitutional Odyssey: Can Canadians Become A Sovereign People? University of Toronto Press, 3rd edition, 2004. ch 6.
  • Trudeau, Pierre Elliot, Federalism and the French Canadians, McClelland & Stewart, 1968
Milan March 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I also need to decide if I want to write the comprehensive exam in Canadian politics on May 23rd or August 22nd.

Milan March 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Questions and readings for today’s class with Peter Russell:

The Political Renaissance of Aboriginal Peoples

What are the main factors that account for Aboriginal peoples getting a better hearing in Canadian politics after World War II? Why was the Trudeau/Chretien 1969 White Paper rejected by Aboriginal peoples? How important was the Supreme Court’s decision in Calder in reversing the federal government’s policy with respect to Aboriginal peoples? What relationship if any, is there between Quebec nationalism and Aboriginal nationalism? Was there progress towards decolonising relations with Aboriginal peoples?

  • Alfred, Gerald R. Heeding the Voices of our Ancestors: Kahnawake Mohawk Politics and the Rise of Native Nationalism, Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Foster, Hamar, Raven, Heather and Webber, Jeremy, Let Right Be Done: Aboriginal Title, the Calder case and the Future of Indigenous Rights, UBC Press, 2007
  • Fleras, Augie and Elliott, Jean Leonard, The Nations Within: Aboriginal-State Relations in Canada, the United States and New Zealand, Oxford University Press, 1992
  • Miller, J.R., Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens, Part Three
  • Russell, Peter H. Recognizing Aboriginal Title, ch. 5
  • Weaver, Sally M., Making Indian Policy: The Hidden Agenda 1968-1970, University of Toronto Press, 1981.
Milan March 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

My latest paper for my core Canadian politics PhD seminar:

Are Canadian academics attributing too much influence on policy to globalization?

I am getting closer to having LaTeX output footnotes and endnotes in the style I want. The biggest remaining challenge is getting it to always output URLs when they are included as part of a reference. If I can simplify the process of readers finding the sources cited, I want to do so however I can.

Milan March 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Speaking notes for my presentation later this afternoon:

Aboriginals and the Patriation of Canada’s Constitution

Milan March 27, 2013 at 8:11 pm

My big task for the summer, along with trying to rebuild by finances a bit

Milan March 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

The final paper for my core seminar in Canadian politics:

Is the extent of prime ministerial power a threat to Canadian democracy?

Now, on to writing term papers!

oleh April 2, 2013 at 2:02 am

Conciseness in writing is a skill academics could perhaps look to journalists or short story writers to learn. I think of the expression, “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I did not have the time”

Milan April 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I have just submitted the term paper for my Peter Russell ‘Incomplete Conquests’ class:

The judiciary in the lead: Aboriginal politics in Canada’s post-Charter era

It’s quite an interesting and important topic, so it would be good to see feedback from both the professor and anyone else who is interested. The LaTeX file is here, along with the BibTeX file.

Milan April 20, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I just finished with the final essay for the psychology course I have been auditing.

It is very different from my second draft, which the professor didn’t think much of.

One term paper left to go…

Milan April 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

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