Saturday, February 10, 2007

Week in Review

I'm sorry I haven't written in the last few days. It wasn't so much that I spiralled into a depression when I found out at long last that POP Me U has not shortlisted me (turning them into Party POoPers), but that Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesday I work in the evenings. A good friend of mine and I just started our writing group on Monday night (why, oh why on Monday nights, making three late nights in a row?!). Of course, now it's Saturday and I have to quickly write something to show him for next Monday, having written in a brief, daily session Boice-style on Tuesday and then fallen off that horse again.

On Monday evening, I was walking down the hall to find out whether my friend wanted to go have dinner (having decided against going home and working out), when I saw him coming at me, face like thunder. He had just taken his draft to a workshop group of faculty and grad students sponsored by the department. Now, this group is just infamous for making people feel like crap. Everyone complains about it, faculty and students alike. I stopped going because I don't think it's helpful to my scholarship. Instead of engaging in a dialogue that would actually help the work, graduate students perform for the faculty members, sharpening their critical claws on each other. Faculty members engage in petty squabbles with one another over points in their students' work. You'd actually never guess that these people regularly teach writing, discussing with their students what is good feedback and what isn't. This group is NOT a good scene, a hard place from which to get useful feedback -- and the process usually just feels like shit.

So there he was, my good friend who tries hard to be nice to everyone, even the people who don't deserve it. And he had a bad time at this group. Faculty members told him he should cut out a substantial amount; after dinner and coffee, we figured that the piece just doesn't start up quickly enough so they don't see that he's trying to map a whole process. (Apparently, those faculty members are really excited about a particular theorist my friend uses and are pressuring him to write something to bring the theorist into the field; what they don't know is that from my interdisciplinary standpoint, much of that conversation is already dead, leading nowhere in terms of furthering the field discussions. The map my friend is exploring is much more interesting and important than exploring the dead end that theorist represents. What's more, if they want to see a particular kind of work done, they should do it themselves, taking that out of the equation when reading someone else's work.) Grrr.

My TA work for the Cool Class is taking up a lot of time, commenting on drafts and reading books. Of course, I really want to do it all, and since there's the prospect of immediate feedback it seems infinitely better than working on my diss, right?

Included in the TA work was reading a book that drove me nuts. The ideas and sample exercises were fantastic, really inspiring, the kind that make me want to jump up and start writing and teaching. But these writers addressed their audience of teachers as if we had never thought about teaching before. And they constantly spoke about students as if they knew what all students were thinking. It's never taken me so long to get through a 125 page book before.

I've been considering not applying for any other jobs (besides adjunct). It takes so much time -- and more of my brain. I need to focus on this diss, focus on getting some writing done that I value, focus on the fact that my SO is coming into town today and I need to wash dishes and take out the trash. I have one last university to hear from -- Adventure U. That would be a great opportunity for me, the kind that would really help me develop my research agenda. I should hear from them in the next week or two. But otherwise I think I need to focus on the writing.


medieval woman said...

Yeesh! That group sounds hideous. I'm glad that you could provide your friend with a different and more constructive perspective on his work. Good for you for staying the hell away from it.

Good luck with Adventure U - if another job comes up (even a VAP position), you could still apply for it - your materials are all ready to go, yes? Just a thought!

medieval woman said...

Hey - how's it going?