Monday, June 30, 2014


Alas, I am increasingly resigned to the fact that if I work incredibly hard from September to May, June is always going to be a bit of a wash work-wise! It is regrettable but I don't think there is a great deal to be done about it, especially when I also always want June to involve large amounts of exercise.

That said, I am ready to kick off what I hope will be an extremely productive July....

Having cleared from the desk what is for once not an overdue reader report on a journal article, I am facing a happy week with only two major responsibilities.

First, I need to revise the article I got back with reader comments in AUGUST, should have dealt with then but have instead had stressfully on my to-do list for, oh, let's say about TEN MONTHS (relatively minor revisions, but it was a complex set of reports - two from primary readers and two additional ones from editorial board members, one of whom clearly felt that the article was pernicious in every aspect and offensive by dint of its very nature!). It also needs some library work in the matter of correcting to appropriate scholarly editions, which meant it couldn't be done in Cayman, the place where I am usually better off in the matter of uninterrupted work time. Anyway, I am saying it here for accountability (I am not I suppose, on the continuum from procrastination to not-procrastination, especially an offender, but when putting-off does coalesce around a particularly undesirable task, it coalescesces mightily!) - it will be done by the end of the week, sooner if I have any control over the matter.

Second, I need to plunge into the complex but exhilarating task of drafting my syllabus for Literary Texts, Critical Methods, the one required course for undergraduate English majors, which I am teaching this fall for the first time. Here is the description - it is very open-ended, my colleague E. has been teaching a wonderful version of it but contemplation of his syllabus has told me I want to do it entirely differently - I will probably be canvasing for suggestions here over the week:
This course is intended to introduce students to the advanced study of literature. Students will read works from different genres (poetry, drama, and prose fiction), drawn from the medieval period to the present day, learning the different interpretative techniques required by each. The course also introduces students to a variety of critical schools and approaches, with the aim both of familiarizing them with these methodologies in the work of other critics and of encouraging them to make use of different methods in their own critical writing.
I often leave syllabus-making until the last minute, but in this case I teach in tandem with five graduate student seminar leaders who will customize and modify the base syllabus with their own additions, so it is only reasonable that I should have it to them by mid-July at the latest. It is going to be really fun, I have all sorts of ideas percolating about what I want to do!

(After that, The Ten-Week Clarissa and some reading and thinking for my exciting next project on the battle of ancients and moderns and why it mattered!)

Miscellaneous light reading, some of it more brain-rotting than others: Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm (very good, better than the first one I think - JKR is just a real pro, great storyteller - also it reminded me of childhood favorite Thou Shell of Death); Megan Abbott, The Fever (superb - I have loved all her books, but this one has the potential to reach a huge audience, and I'm delighted to see how much attention it's getting); Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes (contemplating a short essay on King, so won't say more here, but I thoroughly enjoyed it); Charles Stross, The Apocalypse Codex (I love this series - new one out shortly, had to catch up on the previous); and finally, much worse than any of these others, Tom Rob Smith's The Farm, which I should have put aside but instead speed-read in increasing irritation - people's lives and pathologies just don't sort themselves into neat boxes like this, it is a fraud, and I hated the way the Kindle edition used huge type to narrate the mother's account!

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