Monday, February 1, 2010

And the Oscar doesn't go to...

It's a matter of happenstance or an unfortunate concomitance that the day we launch our blog about dissertating I should get an email from the University informing me that my Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (S.S.H.R.C.) grant application was not forwarded to the reading committee in Ottawa. Of course the blog was established to be a venue to air the frustrations and the joys, but I didn't expect to be indulging in the negatives so quickly.

The Faculty of Music mandates its graduate students to apply for both the SSHRC and Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) grants. Every Fall the school hosts several rounds of grant writing workshops to assist students craft the all important proposal to rake in the dollars. The tone of these workshops is akin to a 1920s Revivalist Camp Meeting through a Valium-induced fog. There's no zeal, but instead a reverence for the Ottawa reading committee's mysterious ways. No one really knows what pleases them, but there are, laid before us, a series of abstract guidelines that will lead us along the golden path to funding.

Preparing these applications every year represents a massive investment of time and effort; it's great practice for future applications. I certainly appreciate the experience crafting and honing a succinct articulation of my research objectives and expected outcomes; however, what's most rattling is the annual rejection. Intellectually, I understand it's part of the process and in my career I'll receive far more negative responses than positive, but gosh darn, it's a real kick in the teeth.

My emotional response (separate from intellectual) stems from three factors:

  1. The 2010/2011 academic year is my last year in the funding window after which I'm not eligible for University or the SSHRC/OGS grants;

  2. The supplemental funding would have enabled me to relocate back to my beloved adopted home of Toronto and away from the dingy, post-industrial, economically-depressed, culturally deprived London (Ontario, not the fun one). More on this in another post;

  3. As is natural, I emotionally invested in my research and firmly convinced that it is essential for developing new areas of music theory and composition. How could something so earth-shatteringly important be dismissed so readily?

The internal University reading committee had a quota of applications to send forward. Out of 306 doctoral applications, only 72 were selected for the next stage. That's approximately 1/4 of all applicants; small odds. Of course, the applications from music also compete with those from English, History, and Economics. I'm not sure how a new theory of musical counterpoint can compete for funding with, say, a treatise on the literature of gay pulp novels, or a new theory of equilibrium– literally, apples and oranges.

Intellect and reason aside, my tenuous faith in the validity and relevance of my research has been swayed by this news. I will hold out hope for the OGS results in April. In the mean time, I'm going nurse my wounded pride for a couple of days; I sense a trip to my beloved Toronto in the near future.

1 comment:

princess iveylocks of western said...

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