Thursday, October 05, 2006

Things other than teaching?

I wish I had anything of substance to say besides blah blah about teaching. It’s reflective of how intense it is, I suppose – it consumes nearly all of my brain space. Last year GF found it hard by the end of the academic year, because all I ever talked about was teaching. That, and my job search. There were arguments about this. It becomes exhausting to be around, I’m sure. I even bore myself, sometimes, with my own thoughts. But I haven’t much else going on up there. Which is probably bad.

That said, I am trying right now to actually stay on top of writing and thinking as complementary activities to teaching. I am just finishing up a conference paper to be presented next week – I get to go to a warm place, yay! In my mind, this is the first microscopic piece of new research that will go into a book project about which I’m pretty excited. (Hey, Sfragett – although I dithered about it all summer, and even declared just over a month ago on here that I would be trying to do major revisions to my dissertation to turn it into a book, I have in the end taken advice you gave me back in a comment in June: to turn to another project, if that’s where my energy is, instead of pursuing the dissertation. Diss has already given me one publication, and I think I will turn out at least one more article that builds from its theoretical framework. And that will be that. On to new, better, fresher things! Thanks, S.) Last year I couldn't really get anything accomplished in terms of research and writing - the teaching and grading load was so extreme, I had no room for anything else. I love that I can work this into my life again.

Also, a grad school friend and I – he lives in Home City – are doing a little reading group. Or reading dyad, I suppose. We’re meeting on Monday for the first time. This is exciting, though sort of terrifying. He and I both do cross-disciplinary work – both of us do Field X combined with another field (a different one for each of us). And since my teaching is all about Field Y, and not this Field X, I worry that I will become rusty on Field X! Is that even possible? Anyway, he shares the same concerns – so we’re meeting to read some essays that I picked out in Field X and get our brains thinking in those terms again. This is crucial because, of course, Field X informs my research as much as does Field Y, the discipline I teach in. No rustiness allowed.

I’ve always said this is a good idea – this reading group thing – but I’m nervous about it. What the hell? He’s just one other person, and a friend, at that. But I guess it reminds me of being a student again – and I hated going to classes, even as a grad student. So it’s bringing up all sorts of shy-person reactions. Which is probably good, because it will get me to work through those intellectual fears.

But I’m excited because of what it symbolizes in terms of possibilities for collaboration. He and I do overlapping work, and I love the idea of editing a volume together, or running a seminar at a conference where that’s done, or organizing a panel. I hope this will inaugurate a long-term intellectual partnership – I could use that.

2 comments:

medieval woman said...

Hey - it sounds like you have all kinds of "things other than teaching" going on! All of them cool and intellectually stimulating - that's great! I think the decision to pursue the other book project right now is definitely the way to go - I myself am revising my diss, but that's sometimes just the path of least resistance, not a necessary progression. By that I mean that our dissertations often represent jump starts to book projects and they are easier than starting from scratch for the first one. But if you're fortunate enough to have so many great ideas, then go for them - talk about reinvigoration of the research process! One good thing about the diss - it doesn't have a shelf life - you can always come back to it as a later project or keep farming it as a series of articles.

It's like those great 80s outfits where the belt can be worn as a bandeau top, or a skirt, or a headband....that's a dissertation.

grumpyABDadjunct said...

I would love a reading group! Mine disbanded when people started leaving town. One person and I try and keep it going, but there is little reading anymore. Have fun with it!