Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are you ready to play our game?

I know what you've been thinking. No, the tarantula did not eat me alive. Summer school almost did, though. Teaching two classes while working on an article and a proposal for Kalamazoo, beginning a Latin translation group with a colleague, and deciding whether my oldest child would be starting Kindergarten next week left with very little time for blogging over the past month. I know, I know, there's always time for the things you put first, right? But as much as I enjoy the blog, it often comes in very low on my list of priorities.

I haven't been absent from the blogosphere, however. I've been reading all of my favorite blogs regularly, almost all of which have had interesting things to say. I've been following the In The Muddle controversy (though I admit I came to it rather late and was only tipped off to the now-defunct blog's existence by a mention of it on Unlocked Wordhoard). I don't really have anything to say about it that hasn't already been said, by Larry Swain among others. I will say that, though I've publicly admitted that I'm not much of theory person and that I often have difficulty following the more esoteric posts at In The Middle, I have found the bloggers there, particularly Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, to be exceedingly generous and welcoming. I have little respect for those who pick on nice people (especially when those nice people are doing good work).

And it's not really true to say that I haven't written anything here in the past month. In fact, I've written quite a bit, though none of it has made it into a publishable post. I've started three different posts, only to be interrupted by work, children, or sleep. As a result, I have three fairly substantial but unfinished posts sitting in my Drafts folder. I had planned on just ditching all of them--returning to a piece of writing after a long absence is always difficult for me--but Miss Goddess had a better idea (as she often does).

Instead of letting these poor, orphaned pieces of prose pass into oblivion, I'll give those few remaining of my readers a chance to save one. I'm posting below the first paragraph of each of the three posts in question. If you would like to see one of those posts finished, please say so in the comments. Whichever potential post gets the most votes will be finished and posted in its entirety later this week. Here goes:

Contestant 1 (the teaching post):
I've worked here in Hawtch-Hawtch for almost ten years now. I grew up about 25 miles away, and I've lived in the state for all of my life, excepting seven years in grad school. In other words, I know this place. I don't agree with most attitudes I encounter 'round these parts, but I'm rarely surprised by them. At times, however, my students (most of whom grew up approximately 25 miles in the other direction from the college) say things that I have trouble even processing. It's not that I can't believe they think this way; I just can't believe that they say it out loud...

Contestant 2 (the research post):
One of the great joys and frustrations of being a medievalist involves having to face head-on the pervasive misconceptions held by the general public about the Middle Ages. Mary Kate Hurley recently asked medievalists about times when they have found themselves using their knowledge of the period in unexpected settings, but surely the most common, almost clich├ęd, scenario begins with the question "Did they really...?" Did they really burn witches? Did they really believe in magic? Did they really eat dirt? And so on. It is our privilege, nay, our duty to correct these misconceptions, no?...

Contestant 3 (the meditations on the profession post):
I've been thinking a lot recently about my approach to scholarship: why I do it, what I get out of it, etc.. As I've mentioned before in this space, I feel like I'm something of a special case here. Because I teach at a community college, my scholarly output has absolutely no bearing on my job security. In a way, I suppose, I'm a bit like an independent scholar, though I've never thought of myself in those terms. Because I went to grad school at a big-name R1 program, I've always conducted my research and writing as if I were on the tenure track, in that I plan to write one or two conference papers each year, and I then try to turn those papers into articles to be submitted to journals (though I admit that I often abandon those projects once they get to the article-writing stage)...

It's now up to you, faithful readers. If I get no comments, all three of these posts will die a painful death and never be heard from again. But if you're the type who tears up watching Extreme Makeover, who can't pass by a kitten without smiling, you'll reach out to save one of these paragraphs. The clock is ticking...

7 comments:

Flavia said...

Ooh--is this game like "get the guests"? I love that game!

Frankly, I'd love to read all of these three potential posts, but I'll rank them thusly:

First: teaching

Second: professional meditations

Third: research

Glad you're back~~

theswain said...

With Flavia, I'd love to read all three. Truly and honestly.

My ranking is a bit different though:

profession

resarch

teaching

And welcome back!

tenthmedieval said...

Entirely personal reaction, but as post three sounds much too much like the situation I'm trying to escape/defy, I'd be more interested in the research post, and then the teaching post. So there: three entirely different opinions, that's what you get when you ask the Internet...

Brandon H. said...

I'd personally like to read (most--although I also would like them all) the research post, followed by the profession post.

Michelle said...

Oh... I'd like to read all three too, but I would prefer teaching, profession, and research if I were to rank them.

I would like to hear more about your research but this post doesn't actually sound like its about your research, as far as I can tell from just the first paragraph.

Hope you are back for a while...

Prof. de Breeze said...

So let's see: that makes two votes for the teaching post, two votes for the research post, one vote for the professional meditation, and one very gratified blogger who kinda thought nobody would bother visiting this space after so much silence. Thanks, guys.

I think I'll let the contest continue for another day, just in case we have some stragglers. But I guess I better start thinking hard about finishing at least one of these posts. :)

Oh, and Michelle: the research post is in fact related to research, though not to my main line of interest (with which you are familiar). Or at least it's devoted to my thoughts about a specific medieval text.

Carrie K said...

Straggling in - I vote for (in order)research, teaching, profession. I usually just read the posts and not comment but voting! It's one's civic duty to vote.