Sunday, April 29, 2007

And another thing

And Another Thing

It's book order time. That time of year when some of us say, "Oh bollocks! How am I supposed to know what I'm using for my new preps?" I've ordered for the surveys and one of my UD classes (which class I've never taken, let alone taught -- thank goodness I took a grad seminar with the dread early modern economic historian, or I'd have no idea where to even start!). The other UD class is in Ancient Greece and Rome. It's filled already. Had I known, I'd have done single-semester classes, but I had no idea how popular it would be. Anyhow, now I have to find books. I am not seeing anything, textbook-wise, that I really like. I'm seriously considering putting some general histories on reserve and just teaching primary sources and articles. What do you think? The students I've mentioned this to all love the idea, but I think they're mostly just into saving money.

Wow, I'm in Perspectives!

Wow! I'm in Perspectives!

Why yes, I'm thoroughly in avoidance mode. Not for long. The Kazoo paper (why, oh why, did I say I was going to write this paper?) beckons. I've got pretty much all the marking for my surveys done, and have only the class blog for my upper-division class to finish marking. Then, on Wednesday, the final exams. So after that, I can start blogging important things again. I still haven't blogged the Late Antiquity conference that was so very cool -- I promise I'll get that up before Kazoo, unless my paper reaches a crap level of tragi-comic proportions, in which case, I see e-mails going out to many of you, with huge amounts of begging for help.

Last year, it seemed so easy. My paper was finished by the second week of April, and I was able to enjoy all of LDW's too-short visit. I realise now that last year, I was only teaching two sections of one prep during spring quarter, and had no service obligations. This year, I was constantly informed that I was very lucky to have a 3-3 load (the norm is 4-4, 4-3 if one is producing anything scholarly, 3-3 for a couple of people who are very active and get funds to pay an adjunct to take one of their classes and/or chair major committees). That's true. And boy, am I grateful. As it happens, I taught 4 new preps this year, and just finished up serving on my first-ever search committee last week. Plus a very high-profile university wide committee which, thank goodness, has only met about 4 times since I've been on it. Meanwhile, I've been dealing with an entirely new (to me) type of student, and tailoring and re-tailoring my classes to try to get the best from them.

Last year's paper was also a bit easier -- I was in the same town as a major research institution, and could regularly run over to the library and could borrow up to 20 books at a time, or just work there all day. The paper itself was pulled from the diss in a much more coherent manner. This year's paper is very different in that I've taken subsidiary characters, i.e., women, and put them in the forefront. Since I'm not a women's historian per se, I'm not as familiar with the literature on women and property as I'd like, and it's slowing me down a bit. I'm also finding that, when I built up my database (which reminds me, I have to write a person overseas who might be interested in publishing it!) for my main document collection, it didn't occur to me to have a field for whether or not there were women witnessing land transactions, so I'm having to go through the bastard things one by one. There might be a more efficient way, but if this turns out to be a halfway decent paper, I want to use it as the base of an article, so I might as well do the research the right way in the first place. Oof. I do think I may have to narrow the focus, but won't know that till next week. yeep.

None of this, by the way, has much of anything to do with the title of the post, except that I haven't looked at my copy of Perspectives yet, but I did look at Cliopatria this morning, and Ralph Luker points to Anthony Grafton's column there. I have to say, I'm very chuffed. And frankly, I felt a bit guilty, because I haven't been blogging quite so much this year. I've really wanted to, because I think it's important to talk about that transition from being on the market to actually having an academic job. I suppose I just really didn't think about how huge that transition might be. I also didn't really think about how my own attitude might change towards blogging. Even though several of my colleagues know I blog, I don't know that they know that their colleague is ADM. And I'm not advertising it. There's been a slight shift for me, too. When I was on the market, I felt much more comfortable with the levels of self-censorship I imposed. Now that I'm at the end of my first year, and only have one year more before I have to turn in my materials for T&P (and the whole accelerated track thing is a post in itself), I feel a bit less sure about how much to censor. It's as if keeping the job is a much more difficult prospect than getting one. Or perhaps it's that, like every institution, there are politics at play, and it now feels like there's more at stake if I screw up?

Whatever the various causes for delay, I'll be trying to get some reflections on the past year up before I go off to try and do some research this summer. In the meantime, Professor Grafton's column has reminded me that I submitted a panel for AHA 2008, and I haven't heard back yet, and I really would like to think they'd want to know more about the ways that people in my area cope with being the campus oddball. I suppose we'll see. I'm guessing, though, that it's not been accepted. Maybe I should have submitted it as ADM!?



The newest version of Carnivalesque will be appearing later today at Siris. It'll be an Early Modern version, and should be good, since Brandon always does a good job.

Then, on 24 May, Martin Rundkvist at Aardvarchaeology will be hosting an Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque. You can send your submissions by email to arador AT algonet DOT se, or the submission form.

We're looking for hosts for the next few months, so please, e-mail me or Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes if you're interested -- or leave a comment here or there!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Poetry Friday -- More Larkin

Poetry Friday -- more Larkin

Another of my favourite Larkin poems ...

Love, We Must Part

Love, we must part now: do not let it be
Calamitous and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:
Let us have done with it: for now at last
Never has sun more boldly paced the sky,
Never were hearts more eager to be free,
To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I
No longer hold them; we are husks, that see
The grain going forward to a different use.

There is regret. Always, there is regret.
But it is better that our lives unloose,
As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light,
Break from an estuary with their courses set,
And waving part, and waving drop from sight.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Viral Marketmeme -- my daemon

Viral Marketmeme -- My Dæmon

Friday, April 20, 2007

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs--
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two of my classes

Two of my classes

That's how many people were murdered at VaTech yesterday. I cannot imagine how the VaTech community will even begin to deal with this. I walked into my afternoon class yesterday, and all I could think was, "I could walk into this room and find them all gone and never see them again. Ever."

I've seen a lot on the internet about how some people hoped that others wouldn't use this tragedy to jump on the gun control wagon. It's one of the reasons I didn't post yesterday. But I think that one of the things tragedies do is make us wonder why they happened -- and like it or not, one of the reasons this happened is that guns are readily (and in my opinion, far too readily and easily) available in this country. We have many, many constitutional rights in this country that we have allowed the government to regulate and, in the case of the so-called Patriot Act, almost entirely abrogate. Why, then, is the one right whose entire underlying premise is the possibility of armed violence against others the only one we seem to hold sacred?

There are many other wagons on this train. Mental Health services in this country, especially for those without insurance, are a joke. And our culture is not particularly good at addressing such issues in the first place. There is generally little awareness and training, and even where one knows that someone is suffering unduly from some kind of deep emotional problems, there's often nowhere to send them -- if they'll accept help in the first place, because there's still a stigma involved. It's very weird to me that we live in a culture that thrives on the emo of reality TV and self-revelatory talk-shows/circuses, and yet can't come up with a way of dealing with the actual, real-life stuff.

The last of my wagons is academic culture. Since I've been blogging, there have been so many posts, here and all over the academic blogosphere, on the changing demographic of our students and the changing expectations of academia. The first is more about the wider range of students and often their lack of academic preparation. That may be true, but my experience also points to a lack of preparation in terms of what a college education, especially one in the Liberal Arts, is all about. The work load, the idea that one's primary focus should be on learning, not that outside job that pays the bills, the huge cultural adjustment for some students when they are thrown into an alien world -- these things can all be very stressful, especially in addition to the normal stresses of adjustment to college life. The second, the changing expectations of academia, only makes things worse. If we are seen as providing a service for customers, and if those customers are putting themselves under huge financial obligations to get that service, it's no wonder that they feel resentful when they don't like the quality of service. The problem is, of course, that we offer a service that is different from the one the customer thinks he or she is buying. We offer access to knowledge and the methods for acquiring it. Unfortunately, the customer thinks that the money is paying for a piece of paper that will hold the key to future success. We all know this is just wrong, but we've been very bad at explaining why. I would like to entirely do away with the customer/service model. But if we are going to be stuck with it, perhaps the analogy we should use is that of buying a gym membership or getting a personal trainer. You can throw all the money down that rathole that you like, but unless you actually use the facilities and watch what you eat, you are not going to get the body you want.

I don't know that anything can stop a determined person from committing mass murder. But I'd like to think that we can try to create a society where fewer people think that's the only viable solution.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday, not marking

Monday, not marking

I have much marking to do, but am not in the mood, because really, I've been sort of out of it most of the day, thinking a lot about Va Tech. I kinda know one person there, and I hope he's ok.

But since there are lots of places you can read about that and make comments, I thought I'd distract myself by putting down some thoughts I had about a question Steve asked below: what is with all this Alamanni stuff??

I've been thinking about it, off and on, and here are my rather ill-formed meanderings. For the past couple or so years, Early Medievalists and Late Antiquarians have been looking again, and in more depth, about older concepts of ethnicity and especially what it means to be "German" (or indeed any group of people called 'germanic'). There are also grumblings that Late Anitquity really doesn't exist and that really, there wasn't quite as much synthesis as we'd thought, and maybe we should just go back to saying Early Medieval from around 476. I'm not going there today.

But some fairly big names have been sticking their oars in this particular body of water (the ethnicity one). Goffart, Wickham, Smith, Burns, Ward-Perkins and Heather have all written books dealing with Rome and the Barbarians in one form or another in the past couple of years, and I know of at least two others coming out in the next year. So maybe taking a closer look at individual groups of so-called Germans is the next trend, and the Alamanni are just the first? It will be a while before people start overturning everything we know about the Franks, at least. I'm actually serious about this. Maybe the time has come where we can start examining evidence again, and come to some newer conclusions about who these people that the Romans called Germans really were.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

saturday silliness

Saturday Silliness

Via owlfish ...I give you ....

Les Marshmallables

Friday, April 13, 2007

Poetry Friday -- Brain Fry edition

Poetry Friday -- Brain Fry edition

Because my brain hurtz! (still marking ...)

By Ogden Nash

Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn't hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Apropos of Sharon's post

Apropos of Sharon's post

Sharon at Early Modern Notes asked for some of our favourite song covers, and I came up with some. At dinner tonight, a friend's son asked me if I'd seen this version of Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Needless to say, I had not. Had you?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Something to warm the cockles of a medievalist's heart

Something to warm the cockles of a medievalist's heart

This is so very cool. I can see myself using it in class someday. Damn. Really cool.
As seen on the intrawebs:

Friday, April 06, 2007

Poetry? Friday

Poetry? Friday

Furry paperweight
Obscures screen, sits on keyboard
Flies and lands safely

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Water Wings, please

Water Wings, please??

Hello, the blogosphere! Hello, my blogfriends! I really have not been ignoring you ... I'm just trying to catch up. So much has been happening over at What Now's, and maggie's, and B*'s, but I'm so far behind on blog reading, blog commenting and oh! work! So, my apologies. Here's my 'to do' list, in case you are all wondering what I'm up to...

  • Vacuum house
  • mop kitchen and bathroom floors
  • put away all odds and ends of clothing from conference and trip to Sleepytown
  • clean bathroom
  • go through huge pile of stuff on desk
  • pay any bills I haven't yet paid
  • put together reimbursement paperwork for conference
  • write up conference report
  • make sure I've got all my frequent flyer points
  • mark three weeks' LJ contributions for upper division class
  • mark two one week's Blackboard discussions for the two survey classes
  • check and see what I'm supposed to be doing this week in classes
  • prep this the rest of this week's classes
  • prepare for Big Committee meeting tomorrow
  • check and see what's going on with search committee
  • Oh yeah ... write a conference paper??????
  • see if I can get out of going to reputedly worthless faculty development workshops to go to this instead. Still wondering how I got on the invite list, but happy I am
  • really figure out my summer travel plans
  • also, post the conference report, for those of you interested in Late Antique sorts of things.
  • and send back the hard drive that crashed and would not allow re-formatting
  • and see about getting the cat's teeth checked. Again.
  • CRAP! TAXES!!!

So ... I'll be around, if not as visible as I'd like.