Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ways in Which a T-T position has changed my life, pt 1

Ways in Which a T-T position has changed my life, pt 1

Right -- so I've only promised to write this for about a year. Obviously, the first way in which having the job I started at SLAC 3+ semesters ago is this: my blogging has decreased. Or, to be more precise, my blog reading has decreased. I can't keep up with my blogroll.

Part of this is that I somehow feel like I have more to lose, now that I'm going to be coming up for promotion in a year or so. Most of this is that scholarship is no longer a luxury that I tried to do on top of a 15-hour per term load -- it's something I have to do on top of a 4-3 load. I'm still trying to work on self-censorship, and have taken many of the most personal things private.

A different part is that I am trying to forge more friendships and solid collegial relationships at SLAC, and that eats into my blogging time. I've also been trying to maintain some old friendships and a few new ones that have grown out of my relationship with LDW. Those things eat into my time more than I expected.

But mostly? It's that I'm stuck in what's still basically a new town, still adjusting to a new college, even as its going through huge amounts of change and growing pains (mostly the good kind), still finding my feet in a new community where people all know each other ... and we're back to self-censorship. Well, that and learning how to manage a different workload while not having to look for a job. So be on the lookout for an upcoming post on ideas of risk and self-censorship coming soon to this blog -- after grading jail!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This just made me happy

This just made me happy

Got this in a roundabout way from Ancrene Wiseass:

More blogging soon, as I'm hoping for decent news in the next week or so, and am currently in grading jail. And still looking for a March Carnivalesque host!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

My life at the mo'

my life at the mo'

Right now, my favourite phrase can rhymed with "clucking bell." My very favourite phrase can be abbreviated, "FFS". Some people. I ask you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In need of SCUBA gear, good chocolate and Laphroaig or sim.

In need of SCUBA gear, good chocolate and Laphroaig or sim.

  • SCUBA gear because I am buried alive under a never-ending pile of OMG too much frakkin', gorram work and administrative bullshit and colleagues who make me feel like I'm Mary-Sue-ing the "groundhog day" episode of Xena: Warrior Princess that LDW showed me when I was visiting him in fabulous European Capital, and large cat. X, having read about my fear of being buried alive ("I'm not dead yet!"), suggested I be buried in a cardboard box with an oxygen tank, just in case...
  • good chocolate because of the endorphins
  • Laphroig or sim.? Need you ask?

Also ...

Host needed for the next A/M Carnivalesque ... SQ? Tenth C? Magistra?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A small pet peeve

A small pet peeve

I used to think it was SLAC -- the academic calendar is often hard to find, and we're lucky if it's set 6 months in advance. SLAC drives me crazy with its tendency for last-minute planning -- rooms not assigned until the week before classes start, finals schedules that make no sense, especially when there are often grades due before finals are given ...

I just looked at LDW's schedule, though -- or tried to. He teaches at a reasonably prestigious uni. There's no academic calendar at all. They've gone to a monthly calendar, and there are no dates set for the beginning of the fall semester. I'm annoyed, because long-distance relationships are hard enough. But I know that both SLAC and Prestigious Uni are enrolling more and more non-traditional (e.g., working) students. They are also both trying to deal with enrollment problems, in that they are chasing enrollments. I was a working student for much of my academic life. I never had to pay tuition and fees, but I had to live (the grad fellowship was not enough to live on, partially because Grad U housing cost half of my stipend ...).

Attention, you silly institutions! When you are trying to attract and cater to a non-traditional demographic, it isn't *just* about offering evening classes. Working people need to be able to plan their work schedules (and sometimes, babysitting schedules) so that they can both keep their jobs and do well in their courses. They need to know the exam schedules well in advance, because the kinds of jobs students usually hold are not particularly flexible. And if that helps poor faculty fools whose relationships stretch over time zones and miles, that's not a bad thing, either.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

warm and fuzzy, as they say

warm and fuzzy, as they say

My classes were good today. Students had fun. I told them one of the Latin Fathers also made me feel like my head would 'splode, and they laughed. One took pictures of a theological diagram I drew on the board. Two of my colleagues whom I respect a lot and who are well-respected across campus gave me compliments. And most of the students had done most of the reading. Doesn't get much better.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

World History Question

World History Question

Or maybe one for the Americanists? I'm teaching about the Columbian exchange this week . One of the required readings makes a point that part of the problems Europeans had in dealing with the New World and Native Americans is that they didn't know how to fit the Native Americans into a world view based on the biblical creation. These difficulties contributed to an ongoing discussion about the humanity of the Native Americans, including church councils (Salamanca, IIRC) that defined whether or not they had souls, etc. Part of the reason for this was also because, at least for the Spanish, being human and capable of salvation meant that the Native Americans should be protected from being enslaved.

Makes sense to me. More or less (I'm condensing about 35 pp. into a paragraph here).

Here's where I'm stuck -- if humanity is one of the reasons that one should be protected from slavery, what was the justification for bringing African slaves to the New World? Because if one sticks to the biblical accounts and extrapolations therefrom, Africans were the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah. So they'd definitely be human. Europeans would have known that some Africans were Muslims, so capable of religious belief, even if, to Christians, it was the wrong belief. So ... ??

I am not looking for answers that say anything simplistic like, "well, Europeans were trying to justify their racism to get rich." That's not my point. What I'm wondering is if anyone knows how Europeans justified this differentiation in treatment of Africans, who were more or less 'known' peoples, and Native Americans, who were 'new'. What were the rationales, if any?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Teaching Question

Teaching Question

For the first time, I am teaching an upper-division course in my area of expertise. I am really not happy with it. I let myself let the reading assignments define the pace of the class, and the course is consequently moving too slowly. I'm using Innes' new book from Routledge, and it has some great qualities, but I am realising it just isn't balanced enough. It's a Rome and Barbarians book masquerading as a coherent text.

So I am feeling like I need to add more lectures and pick up the pace. But I don't want the students to feel too burdened (they aren't reading what I would call a lot, but it's not a light load, either.)

So, denizens of the blogosphere -- what happens when you realise you need to re-vamp a course that isn't quite working? Do you just leave it and re-vamp the next time? or do you hope for student patience and rearrange during the semester? How do you do it without looking like an idiot? Give me the benefit of your wisdom, bitte?

Note: the students know this is a new course, and I have already re-structured one thing, having given them input on it. I also do try to do regular checks on what is and isn't working, and why, because they seem to value having some input.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Survivor guilt?

Survivor Guilt?

So say you have to compete for funding for conferences. You know your friends compete with you. You get most of the funding you ask for. Do you mention this when people are talking? Do you hide it?

I ask because I have been very fortunate with funding -- maybe. Last year, I got funding for one conference where I didn't present (but a major conference in my field), and one where I presented twice. This year, they found money for me to go to one conference where I'm presenting and chairing a different panel, and a prestigious conference where I'm giving a paper. Next year, I'm putting in for two conferences and a subvention. I will probably get 2 out of three. That is more than most folks get (i think).

But ... I am giving papers and presentations. I'm negotiating a contract for a publication that I may have to get out the door this summer. I'm behind on a couple of things, but I've also submitted one essay for publication and have the beginnings of a second book-length project. I am on an accelerated contract (and who knows, this may dry up after I go up for T&P). I taught an overload last semester and am teaching a summer course to pay for a research trip this summer. Last summer, I graded AP exams to offset research costs. I'm not as productive as I'd like, but I'm carrying my department's enrollments (next is someone who teaches about 20% fewer students), have the most advisees, and as much or more committee work as anyone else (again, the service falls on the departmental women). I know that there are good reasons I get the support I get that have nothing to do with being my likeable self.

So why do I feel guilty about the support? Why do I feel I have to hide it from my friends and even my departmental colleagues? Well, apart from the fact that sometimes the reaction is, "well, I wish I had time to do all that!" I don't have time. I'm juggling like a crazy person. I'm just not willing to give up something I've been working for for so long.