I haven't had as many scheduled activities this week as usual (a combination of bad weather and a temporary gap in a lecture series I've been attending), and I've been considering how to fill my days.
As a teacher, I have an obligation toward my students - to attend class, to prepare for class, to grade their work relatively promptly, even to have office hours nobody attends.
As a seminar student, I have an obligation toward my instructor and fellow classmates, including, in this case, attending class, posting weekly email responses, doing the reading somewhat attentively.
As a student preparing for an exam of my own making, here's where it gets tricky. What is my obligation toward my own sense of intellectual responsibility and desire to become acquainted with a particular body of material? This exam is supposed to center on a list of materials I've chosen and a set of questions I've formulated and discussed with my examiners ahead of time. Do I have a responsibility to reformulate those questions over the course of the semester, as I develop a greater familiarity with the texts I've chosen? What about replacing some texts with others, or does that belong more aptly to the further narrowing-down of the dissertation? How proactive should I be in talking to my committee members over the course of the semester about ideas I've been turning over - or should I (more cowardly) reserve my ideas for the exam itself? (The fear of "running out of ideas" seems ludicrous; more likely my reluctance to share ideas with others leads to a shortage, rather than the other way around.) And what obligations do my committee members have towards me (only one is currently affiliated with my program; all are primarily affiliated with a different department)?