Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Still here, thanks!

Still here, thanks!

Readjusting is always fun. Really, I need a work place. I could go to the office, but the a/c is still not fixed, and for some reason, when I went in to check the other day, someone had bagged up lots of my possessions -- I hope to protect them rather than to culture mildew. The big news here is that I'm all of a sudden giving a paper at a conference I had not planned on attending. This means coming up with a title today! And I finished the pedagogical article. Except that somehow, I didn't save it. Seriously. I've never managed to lose an entire day's work before and not have at least one backup and a hard copy. So I've spent yesterday and will spend much of today re-creating what I lost. Hence the absence of blogging much.

Updated list to come soon ...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Stupid Blooger

stupid blogger

If anyone with mad javascript skilz can look at this template and figure out why the cut is going at the very bottom of the post, and not where it's supposed to be, i.e., between the first several paragraphs and the very last one, I'd be impressed and grateful.

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!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Carnivalesque XXIX

Carnivalesque 29

The newest version of Carnivalesque Button is up at Even a Little Thing, medievalist and sf writer Gillian Polack's Live Journal. Gillian takes us on a shopping trip through the supermarket of history, and finds lots of things to buy! Lots of good things to fill your cart with, too!

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!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Teaching the Methods Course

Teaching the Methods Course

I'm teaching Historiography and Methods for the first time this coming term. It'll be interesting, as I've never formally taken a class in the stuff. Fortunately, Ancarett came up with a great list of suggestions last year; based on her recommendations and those of a couple of other colleagues, I'm using John Tosh's The Pursuit of History for the main text. My goal in this course, which is a requirement for majors and usually taken in the third year or beginning of the fourth, is to build on what I've taught them about reading primary sources and analysing secondary sources in the survey courses, and prepare them for the only real research paper they have to do, their senior thesis.

So anyway, I'm starting the Methods course with Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time. Well, not exactly. I suppose I should give them the more accepted historical accounts first -- suggestions from the Late MA people would be helpful here (hint hint please!)-- because they will none of them have had a course that covers the period. It isn't history, but I like the way Tey deals with authorial POV and the idea of a particular version of history becoming the norm, even when that version really doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Today, I found this really cool blog post by Errol Morris at the NY Times site. I hope it's still accessible when term starts! Anyway, Morris has written a very good essay on the use of photographic evidence that I thought all the history folk would appreciate and possibly want to use themselves.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

RBOC -- Saturday Edition

RBOC -- Saturday Edition

Hi all -- so I only have decent internet access in the BL, and really, since I'm supposed to be working there, it seems silly to waste my time posting -- or even reading. Evenings are spent with LDW or family, and really, I hate the idea of letting my family think I care more about blogging than I do them. So, expect a huge number of posts about my trip soon, but not yet, as I've just realised I'm leaving this place a day earlier than I thought. Until then ...
  • Oi!! Windows users in the BL! Yeah, I'm talkin' to you! You can turn off the sounds that your computer makes on starting up and shutting down. It's easy, even if you don't have an external volume control. Please feckin' do it, because y'all are pissing me right off!
  • Oi! Steve Muhlburger! Your book is really pricey. LDW and I were in Oxford yesterday and saw it in Blackwell's (Yes, folks, I went to Oxford, visited a friend who has a Visiting Fellowship this summer and saw her very posh digs, and otherwise spent the entire time in bookstores), but couldn't afford it :-(
  • I have no idea who is doing the next Carnivalesque (this month!)-- Gillpolack and Tiruncula both offered, but I spaced out and didn't organise it. Help!
  • I saw a book yesterday that I have to look at. 900 pages on proprietaty churches.
  • I have done much work, but have made no progress. I am going to be so screwed this academic year.
  • LDW bought me a copy of the newest Ward-Perkins.
  • I have a date tonight
  • I am spending Thanksgiving week in a fabulous European capital city where the weather will be shite. I have booked the ticket and will be cancelling classes giving an alternate assignment on the Monday. I am such a bad prof. OTOH, by then, with 5 classes/4 preps this fall (the Dean gave me an overload, but it's very small and really not a full new prep), I will deserve the break!
  • I en't dead yet from derailed trains, bad terrorist plots, or muggers trying to take my computer. *touches wood*
  • I have drafted about 20% of my pedagogical aricle

So, that's what's up with me. What's up with you?