Monday, July 23, 2007

Trying to get back to working and blogging

Trying to get back to working and blogging

Right, so I've been back in the US for almost a week. Mostly, I've been tidying up my life, which has got messy in all kinds of ways, not least catching up on bills, laundry, plants on the balcony, etc. I've come to the conclusion that the trip was really necessary. My office on campus is not air-conditioned at the moment. In fact, I've not been in since my return, because I am avoiding dealing with the water damage caused by the burst A/C three days before I left. But I think I'm really one of those people who needs a work place away from colleagues and where I know I have to make the most of my time. Working at home means lots of faffing, because my computer and books don't go anywhere, and things are a bit too flexible. This worries me a little, because SLAC doesn't offer me that kind of space -- there is my office, but it's on a very sociable hall, and it's an unwritten rule that faculty leave their doors open to encourage student visits at any time. In fact, there's a definite feeling that it counts against faculty who choose to close their doors, because we are not focusing on our students. Leaving doors open, though, means that some of my colleagues who aren't worried about producing written material (or are just far better at budgeting their time than I am -- or are more willing than I am to get up and work at 4:30 am or work till 1:00 am) tend to come by to hang out. It's kind of dangerous, because even those of us who are trying very hard not to get caught up in what a colleague in another building calls "the thrill of landing in the cool, popular dorm" do get caught up in walking that dangerous line between productive conversation about students, teaching, and campus events and plain old procrastinatory gossip.

So spending three weeks in the British Library essentially meant that (in addition to having lunch with LDW every day) I was able to get up in the morning, go in to work with a purpose, read lots of things that I can't get here, take lots of notes, and really focus just on writing projects. I didn't get as much done as I'd have liked, partially because there were lots of books in French, and I second-guess my French on a regular basis. When I wrote the thesis, there was almost nothing written on my topic in French, so honestly, I haven't ever had to use it on a regular basis since about 1989. Now, there is a ton of stuff out there. What is especially frustrating to me is that much of it is not hugely original. It's largely reiterations and sometimes reconceptions of the German scholarship of the 1970s and 1980s with which I'm already familiar. But not reading the stuff and citing would be impossible.

By the way, I'm not knocking the stuff in French -- it's not hugely different from some of the stuff I've done, and to a certain extent what Matthew Innes has done (and published!) -- in a world where Germanophones have been fairly rare, there's a certain legitimacy in making the German scholarship relevant to people who are more comfortable with French and English. Still, it is somewhat discouraging to have to fight one's way through reams of French only to find out that the chief result will be good footnotes.

The other problem with the trip is that I planned it with one thing in mind, and ended up having to work backwards because I didn't know whether I'd be able to get back next summer. So I had to put off primary work to privilege secondary, which may have been a bad gamble (although I don't think so, because I really was behind on current scholarship). Also, I found I was working not only on one scholarly article, but also a book proposal I hadn't expected. So over the next two weeks, I have to put everything aside to check the feasibility of the book -- the second of three planned parts of a comparative study. The good part is that it should also net me the topic for a paper for this coming year -- if I can find a panel for it. The K'zoo CFP didn't seem to have much, although I think maybe one of the sponsored panels? Of course, the panels I think it will best fit are those in the charge of someone I both admire and fear. Fortunately, I don't think she thinks I'm a complete idiot ...

So, if you wonder where I am, just look under the cut and see what's keeping me busy.

Right -- here's my list of what I need to get done. Argh.
  • read book and write book review 1 by 30 Sept
  • read book and write book review 2 by 30 Sept (or postpone)
  • contact German publisher and remind her that the person she forwarded my stuff to hasn't responded, and would she like to try the second choice?
  • finish pedagogy article
  • get doc collections/analyze data for women and property article
  • write up data, analysis, and add in all that nice secondary research I did at the BL
  • take article ans use as a basis for book proposal for meeting at end of August
  • update my CV
  • syllabus for Ancient course
  • blackboard site for Ancient course
  • LJ for Ancient course
  • Syllabus for Methods/Historiography course
  • blackboard site for Methods/Historiography course
  • LJ for Methods/Historiography course?
  • update survey Blackboard sites
  • update survey syllabus
  • clean up office, which flooded three days before I left on my summer travels
  • syllabus for Freshman seminar? (apparently, it's mostly set, although I've got an assignment to put together)
  • find a paper panel for Kzoo and/or elsewhere Berks! (SFRA 2008 is totally out of my field, but I've been encouraged to submit an abstract and I think I have a couple really good ideas)
  • go to Jesuit U and get books for current work
  • read for fall courses, because I've never used many of the books I've assigned, or have not read them myself since I was a grad student. At the moment, that means Tosh, Freeman, Apuleius, Polybios, Suetonius, Herodotus, and Tey.
  • put all the important due dates in my calendar
  • is there other stuff? probably

Yeep! I'd better jump on this stuff. And no, I have not read the latest Harry Potter, and won't till I get some of this list cleared. So don't tell me what happens!


timna said...

this list looks pretty scary.
yet I do miss the plunge into scholarship and how it can take over the summer. I'm nearing the end of the second course I'm teaching this summer and they totally took my brain space.


Another Damned Medievalist said...

AP reading is a serious drain, but at least it's only a week. Summer school is very hard.

Steve Muhlberger said...

I know the pluses, but when I see two book reviews at the top of that list I want to urge you to reconsider.

Do you really get comment spam? In my time as a blogger I've never got any -- just a few dumb comments by human beings.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Steve, I'm so with you on the book reviews. The first one is That Book. The one whose price you complained about. I agreed to it because I didn't know they were coming out with a pb edition. So now I have to review a book that's ginormous and that I could have afforded after all.
The other I tried to get out of by giving what I thought was an outrageous deadline, only to find out it wasn't. OTOH, it's one of those really expensive article collections that won't be in any library near me and seems to have some relevant stuff. Still, I take your point. I beg the blogosphere to remind me that I do not have time for reviews!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Oh, and I've got comment spam several times. I hate the word ID, but it seems to help.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Wait, how the hell did I miss the Kzoo CFP coming out??

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I haven't seen one announcement yet, but was thinking that it seemed pretty damned late, considering the really early deadline they have, and went to the website. The sponsored and special sessions are up.

timna said...

I got the Kalamazoo book of cfp this week.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I still haven't gotten the k'zoo CFP. I'm going to be in the neighborhood for 07/08, so I think I'll go, regardless of whether I'm presenting.

Anyone going to RSA in Chicago this year? I've never been, but it seems I'll be presenting something-or-other.

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