Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reading and writing all the things


When will I learn, oh, when will I learn that if I assign really long novels, criticism, and theory in a seminar that I have to (re)read them along with the students?

I am now officially convinced that reading on a screen has destroyed my reading concentration for reading books on paper, which is really sad, since I'd rather read on paper. 

It's more than the interwebz destroying concentration, though. I don't need glasses for the screen but do need them for reading on paper.  I can read endlessly on the screen, but my eyes tear up and get blurry after more than an hour reading on paper.  This is not optimal, to say the least.

But then you go to class, and you get to talk to students about the reading, and they say things that are insightful about the work or that reveal something about their thought processes, and it's fun.  There, I said it. It's fun to teach even though we're supposed to prioritize other things.


The writing has been disrupted because of running back and forth to campus so much for meetings.  I've been trying to do more of my own writing in the office by sitting at a table, which signals writing, instead of at the desk, which I associate with class work, email, and other tasks. The other day, I left the office entirely and went to a table in the library.

Melissa Dennihy's essay "How to Get Writing Done" at Inside Higher Ed suggests holding fast to a research day, which probably is essential for new assistant professors but might be difficult for associates and others who have a lot of committees. 

On the other hand, I've had several meeting requests lately that were the kind I associate with when my kids were toddlers and I used the psychology of the forced choice: maybe they don't want to get dressed at all after their bath and you ask them whether they want the blue or the red pajamas.   "Which of these two times [when I'm not available but the person requesting the meeting is] would you like to meet, Undine?" "Neither, but how about this time, when I am?"

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