Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sometimes one must complain

This is one of those times.

Trivial aggravation: I'm reading this dissertation and it's not really bad, exactly--in fact, the student knows a tremendous amount and is impressively erudite--but it's just driving me crazy, because none of the 80-page chapters seem to have a central argument and the writing is frankly rather purple and why do all the critics have to be praised as "erudite" or "insightful" when they're introduced? and there are all manner of unsubstantiated claims being made--claims that plausibly could be substantiated, but they're not, so I need to keep commenting, and the commenting slows me down in doing a task that is already just boring because, again, I don't know what the central argument is.

A thesis is just so damn important.

And then you need to stay on topic, too. There's that.

This student is quite lovely in all other ways, and is not particularly interested in a research career, so the thing doesn't have to be publishable. It'll be defendable, in the end, with revision.

And s/he's done his/her research. And knows like six languages, so that's cool.

But OH MY GOD I have 48 pages to go and it's

/end rant of the privileged.

(This is my Saturday night.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

And then of course there's politics

Other than this morning's rather chipper remarks about my upcoming semester, I haven't posted since well before the election.

And then the election happened, and I couldn't bear to write for a while.

And then it seemed like there was too much to say.

So I'm not just ignoring it, although it looks that way here. I marched on Saturday. I've sent postcards. I may volunteer for the statewide women's political caucus (ideally after July...). I've donated or pledged more money this year than I've ever given before, and I have plans for more. (Next up: donating to a domestic violence shelter in "honor" of Super Bowl Sunday.)

But I think that this could be a very good time for my scholarship, because it has come to feel like a refuge from the political world. When the news overwhelms me, I open a chapter draft and dive in.

Lemons, lemonade (she said somewhat cynically).

And may the revolution bring us all some giant bubble fun.

How the Semester is Shaping Up

Quick comparison:

  • Last semester, I had 111 students in one class (I was responsible for grading the work of 24 of them) and 14 in the other.
  • This semester, I have 5 students in my grad class--two of whom are auditing, and therefore not writing papers--and 4 in my undergrad class.
  • Last semester, I had complicated assignments: required journals in the smaller class, optional journals + a lot of papers + exams in the bigger class.
  • This semester, the pendulum has swung the other way and I have very simple assignment structures.
  • Thus whereas last semester I graded more than 600 journal entries, 150 papers, and 36 exams, this semester I will grade a total--a TOTAL--of 14 papers.
  • Last semester, I gave a talk in March and a paper at Kalamazoo (in May)
  • This semester, I am serving as a respondent at a conference in March, then presenting papers at Kalamazoo (May), Berks (June), another conference (June), and ACLA (July).
  • Oh, and it's the last semester before I go up for tenure, so I'm pushing hard to get my book in near-submittable shape.
Somehow I think that this semester is going to be busier than last.

Still, I'm pretty psyched about the grading thing.