For those who wonder if I will ever be out of school, I say that the End is in Sight: only two more academic years. (I will also remind them that I have not been in school since I was 18, so it hasn't been as long as they think.) I am done with all my classes, including language requirements. I will take comprehensive exams in October and then start writing the dissertation, which will ideally be finished in the spring of 2012.
Ph.D. exams in my department consist of 5 3-hour exams. One is a translation exam, and out of my control. For the other four, I have to compile the lists of books (ancient and modern) on which the essay questions will be based. Two are specialized to my alleged dissertation topic (which is still split between two possibilities), one covers the broader late antique context, and one is focused on aspects of the history of scholarship in the field. It's a strange sort of project to have to figure out for oneself what one ought to know at this level. I've just sent off a preliminary and partial draft (a 6-page list, the result of several months' work) to my advisor, who I am sure will add many more items. I want the list-making to be over so I can start seriously reading the stuff! (See the sidebar for some of the things I'm reading already.)