Preparing for Comps, Grad School
Posted on 2018-01-25
This semester, I have one class and am doing comps prep (preparing for my comprehensive examinations).
I am in an International Relations PhD program at FIU, where I focus on foreign policy and security—with a broad concentration on International Relations and the Caribbean.
My Comprehensive Exams will consist of 5 questions— 2 belonging to core IR theory, 2 on my 2 major focuses: foreign policy + security, and 1 on my minor concentration: Caribbean politics.
The good thing is, that I have read many of these books before and have taken extensive notes on them. I have highlighted material that I am confident with below. The bad thing is, at face value, the whole preparation aspect of it can seem daunting.
I am just taking it one step at a time. [Also, just because something is not highlighted does not mean that I have not engaged with the author, article, or book– I just haven’t engaged with that specific person or material well enough, to give you a 2 minute speech on what they essentially advocate/argue]
Below I detail what I am studying for, for my comps.
If something is , it means that I’ve read it in depth many times and have a lot of notes on it, to the point that I am not worried about it at all…
CORE #1: For the more traditional aspect of IR theory, I am studying these topics/themes/scholars below:
), , , , Morgenthau, Niebuhr, Bull, Wendt, the Security Dilemma, the Cold war as analysed by the different schools of thought, the Democratic Peace Theory (/Hypothesis), Economic Structuralism, Larger Debates in the Philosophy of Science (Kuhn, Popper, Toulmin, Habermas), Neoliberal Institutionalism, Anarchy, CORE 2: In relation to my dissertation, the standout theme in this subset of traditional (“canon”) texts for alternative ways of viewing the world are divided in these categories below:
Race & Globalism/Globalisms from Below
Michael W. Doyle, Liberal Peace:Selected Essays
Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason
Denise Ferrira da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race
Ann Laura Stoler, Duress: Imperial Durabilities in our Times
Daniel Levine, Recovering International Relations: The Promise of Sustainable Critique
Robert Cox, Social Forces, States, and World Order: beyond International Relations Theory Millennium
Jodi Melamed, Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism
George J. Sefa Dei, Reframing Blackness and Black Solidarities through Anti-colonial and Decolonial Prisms
Robert Young, White Mythologies
Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe
Edward Said, Orientalism
Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large
Early Black Political Thought
Find some interesting essays by Sylvia Wynter
Saidiya Hartman, Lose your Mother
Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity
Some key articles here
Julian Go, Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory
Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations
MAJOR #1: The first major topic is security and in my security major, I am currently studying and could be potentially tested on these give themes:
- Thinking and Framing Security and Strategy: Continuity and Change
- Security, Securitization, War, Coercion and the “Three Images”
- Is War an Extension of Politics?
- Revolution, National and International Security
- In Search of a Benevolent Hegemony? A “Hobbesian Order,” A “Kantian Paradise,” or a “Groatian Compromise?”
The scholars that I am expected to study closer are:
, , , , Smith, Katzenstein, Waever & Buzan, Acharya, Kane & London, Gray, Freedman, Barash, Augustine, Hobbes, Bodin, Schelling, Jepperson, Wendt, De Mesquita, Booth, Desch, Der Derian, Enloe, Tycker, Sjöberg, Lebow, Betts, Bilgin, Yongtao, Tycker & Hez, van Creveld, Williams, Mitzen, Metcalf, Howard, Clausewitz, , Vasquez, Leander, Lind, Biddle, Cohen, Battle, Maye, Lanis, Kaldor, Sylvester, Owens, Gordon, Milevski, Snow, Tse-Tung, Goldstone, Walt, Halliday, Cohen & Crane, Gentile, Arendt, Kissinger, Brzezinski, Kagn, Wallerstein, Agnew, Ikenberry & Slaughter, Layne, Measheimer, Blank, Legrenzi, Ehteshami, Escobar, Dorsey, Mesbahi & Homayounvash, Turse, Youngs, Morvchick, ECFR, Freeman, Alison, Buruma, and Kaplan
MAJOR #2: The second major topic is U.S. foreign policy and these are the books and articles, along with the authors, that I will be re-reading in more depth for this topic:
Anderson, American Foreign Policy and its Thinkers
Leffler, The American Conception of National Security & the Beginning of the Cold War, 1945-8
MINOR #1: Caribbean politics, topics and texts TBD