Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer projects

So one of my summer projects (one for which the college is actually paying me, hurrah) is to get up to speed on Crusades scholarship for a course I'm teaching in the fall.

There is a lot of Crusades scholarship, folks. Hoo boy. I ordered a huge stack of books which I'm now skimming. Some I'll assign for class, and others I'll order for the library, whose collection in this area is not very current.

When I started this reading, I had only a vague idea of what I wanted to do with this class, and the process of reading has sharpened my ideas considerably. I have rejected several books for class assignments as being, to me, "too magisterial." I want my students to get a handle on what happened, but I don't want them to be too influenced by a single narrative that proclaims This Is What Happened. I am much more drawn to books that explain differing interpretations, that talk explicitly about how they handle sources, and that don't pretend to be the single definitive account of events.

I've winnowed my giant pile into rejects and books I want to take a second, closer look at. I'd also welcome suggestions.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The first year on the tenure track

So, I have finished my first year on the tenure track. I am taking stock a bit, and figuring out how it feels to have passed this milestone.

Last fall I was struggling a bit to feel differently about this job than the one-year positions I've had for the last few years. (I wrote a bit about that here and here.) At some point, when I wasn't really paying attention, I found that I had successfully transitioned. On some level, I have recognized that I have committed to this place. In fact, I have had to restrain myself from worrying too much about proposed curriculum and policy changes.

In a lot of ways, I am glad to have had experience working at other schools before starting on the tenure track here. In my very first (visiting) job out of grad school, I encountered faculty politics that were contentious and a little dysfunctional. That has given me a better idea of what to look for. I have spent much of the past year observing politics here, as well as the quirks of faculty governance, and I think I'm developing the ability to hear what lies behind apparently innocuous comments made in faculty meetings. My senior colleagues have, I think, been a good guide for me.

My classes generally had good enrollments, except for one which was cancelled. I'm writing that one off as a fluke, as my preregistrations for next year also look good. I think I was more relaxed about fitting in with college norms in the spring, so I hope I'm getting adjusted.

I didn't get a ton of writing done this year, but I did give two conference papers, so I think I'm doing all right on the research front.

Next year will bring a considerable change in my responsibilities, since I'll have advisees and committee work. But I think I feel ready, more or less, for this new work.