Here, just under the wire, is my completed questionnaire. It comes with
the single caveat that, since I was in the initial American Studies class
(1995), my experience in the program reflected all the associated
benefits and drawbacks of clearing a path, testing, exploring.
*AMERICAN STUDIES M.A. PROGRAM QUESTIONNAIRE*
When were you enrolled in the program?
August 94 to August 95
How did you learn of the program?
At some point in the initial application process, I spoke to Alan Howard
and he brought it to my attention.
Why did you enter the program, and did it meet your expectations?
I was interested in a one-year M.A. so that I could undertake Ph.D.
work as soon as possible. More importantly, I thought the program would
provide me with educational opportunities that a traditional M.A.
wouldn't. It certainly met my expectations in terms of its intellectual
value -- whatever programmatic expectations I had were moot, because,
since my American Studies class was the first, the program was still
flexible, and we were each highly involved in shaping our studies.
What did you find most valuable about the program?
The sense of intellectual teamwork and camaraderie that it fostered; the
exposure to new ways of bridging humanities academia with a broader
constituency; the exemplary intellectual ethic of Prof. Howard.
Was the program different in any significant ways from your earlier
It was, of course, more heavily focused on technology than my
undergraduate career had been. At the same time, it was much more
Did the program help you develop any of these aspects of your life?
-Thinking and communicating?
It primarily helped me to understand the nature of interdisciplinary work
and the importance of trying to bridge academic work and the broader
culture. My thinking about the place of scholarship in modern American
society certainly grew more sophisticated during my time in the program.
Still working on those!
Academic research was not really an explicit priority during that first
year -- perhaps for the reason that we were still involved in getting the
program up on its feet. I certainly did research, and got guidance, and
used it for my American Studies projects, but that wasn't the main focus.
They were greatly improved. I have used them in a professional capacity
since, principally in founding and editing an online scholarly journal of
To what extent did your classmates affect your experience in the program?
They made my experience much more enjoyable and more educational. We
early developed a strong camaraderie and grew intellectually together by
sharing and discussing our work.
To what extent did the public venue (the Internet) for much your work
affect your experience in the program?
Was the course work appropriate to the goals of the program?
Yes. I would recommend, however, a more focused or rigorous methodological
course, particularly for those students who intend to stay in academia.
Perhaps this change has already been implemented.
Did you perceive yourself as part of any university department or
community larger than the American Studies Program itself?
I made good contacts in History and Religious Studies.
How well was interdisciplinary study integrated in the program?
Effectively. We were required to take courses in other departments, and
to approach our projects with different disciplinary perspectives in mind.
I think the range of Master's theses my class produced attests to this.
Were the following resources (and any other ones) adequate for your work?
-Computers and technical support? Yes.
-Work space? Yes.
There was no financial support (for any English M.A.s, if I recall).
-Other? During the program did you have any relevant part-time employment? No. Please describe briefly your major forms of schooling and/or employment since your time in the program (giving dates, name of organization, and chief activities there): I am presently working on my dissertation in English at UNC-Chapel Hill (enrolled August 95, expected completion May 2000). Did you find advising and placement support in the program to be adequate? Yes. Alan Howard was committed to helping his students make informed choices and to expanding their range of choices. Has your involvement in the program made a discernible difference in the subsequent steps of your career? Beyond enabling me to start the online journal (see above), it has instilled in me good intellectual habits -- principally those of considering other disciplinary perspectives and seeking to undertake academic work that is not insular. How might the program be strengthened? My only suggestion would be to step up the kind of traditional research training that would be useful for students planning to go on to the Ph.D. level. Any other reflections? I think the program is a credit to UVA, I look back fondly to my time there, and I am grateful for the personal and intellectual growth that I experienced during that year.