Sunday, August 30, 2009

That's the problem with doing no writing since May

I would kind of like to submit an abstract to Kalamazoo this year. I even have a couple of sessions picked out as possibilities. The problem is that I am fresh out of ideas at the moment. Or at least, fresh out of ideas that I'm confident I can write a paper about by May. And somehow I can't imagine I'll have much time to brainstorm, since I'll be teaching every day starting tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I have now been oriented. I have signed a dozen pieces of paper dealing with benefits and taxes and stuff. I got the long tour of campus (as opposed to the short tour I got at my interview). I paraded around in a gown for the new students. I have met several dozen fellow faculty. I even remember the names of some of them. I have stood and waved as my name and academic credentials were read out at multiple faculty gatherings. (So now they all know who I am, even though I don't know them.) I have discussed teaching at a SLAC. I have been served catered luncheons. I have met the entire library staff. I have toured the writing center and the other student support offices. I have hobnobbed with deans.

Next week I will actually get to work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

At least I have two weeks to rethink


That newer collection of essays I was assigning? Apparently the bookstore can't get enough copies of it. At least not without ordering it (doubtless at outrageous prices) from the UK.

Time to retool a little...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Realizations of mid-August

I am mostly moved into my office (save the one box of books that turned up in a totally strange place in the house). I have another week until my orientation starts, two weeks until I start teaching. 

Oh. Yikes. I start teaching in two weeks. At the moment I have a messy syllabus-shaped object instead of a proper syllabus. It is full of question marks and italics and proposed readings that I haven't quite settled on.

The course that concerns me is on women in the Middle Ages. I've taught it twice before, at a different school each time. It was originally heavily based on a couple of courses I had taken myself, although I have changed things around a bit each time.

This time I kept the two somewhat older collections of essays I've liked to use, but added a more recent one. I'd like to expose the students to newer as well as "classic" scholarship. I also want to do a better job of teaching them how to read scholarly articles. This is an "advanced topics" course for majors, so reading scholarly articles is a more than appropriate goal. Usually I make the mistake of assigning articles and assuming that students can read and get them, and then become frustrated when they have read but not gotten. I'm much better at teaching students to deal with primary sources in useful ways.

In this class one of their papers will be an assignment to analyze and critique a scholarly article. I am thinking it will be one that they choose, not already on the syllabus (partly because there is so much excellent stuff I'm having to leave off), although I will supply them with suggestions as necessary. I think I need to precede that with more exercises involving identifying arguments, homing in on clear or unclear points, and figuring out what evidence an author is using to support her argument.  Suggestions for useful exercises are welcome.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Office organization

Today I moved twelve boxes of books into my new office. Yay new office! As the newest prof, I get the smallest office, but it is more than adequate for my needs: lots of shelves, new desk, new computer, plenty of filing cabinets. 

I'm pretty sure these books haven't all been on the shelves at the same time. My last few jobs ranged from "lots of shelf space" to "half a shelf in a shared office," so I've been storing various items for a while. Other books were shelved, piled, or boxed at home. Now I have to figure out how to organize them.

So, gentle readers--assuming you're still out there--what are your favorite methods of office organizing? By period? By author? By color? (Some friends once rearranged my shelves by color as a prank; the result was striking but a little surreal.) Primary sources separated, or mixed in?