best laid plans · saving my sanity · slow academy

Late summer round-up

Dear Readers,

We can hardly believe it is mid-August! We will be back to our regular posting schedule right after Labour Day, but for now here is a round-up of what we have been doing and thinking about this summer.


We here at Hook & Eye

Boyda: My goals for the summer have been finding peace and focus in the midst of displacement and solo travel; while one would assume that seven weeks spent in Europe this past semester would have acclimatized me to research travel, in fact I’m feeling more anxious than ever now that it is about to happen again: I’ve  spent two more weeks in England and a week or so in Iceland for various conferences and research. Upon returning I plan to spend the following month in air-conditioned libraries and rooftop bars and yoga studios, though one glorious week in August will be spent in a South Carolinian seaside house celebrating the wedding of dear friends. My material goals are to revise my first chapter, finish a draft of my second chapter (based on feedback I receive from my Iceland conference) by the end of the summer.
While part of me would love to just stay put for a while, catch up on deadlines already missed, and enjoy all the marvelous summery things New York has to offer, I know I’m fortunate to have so many exciting travel locales on the horizon. Trying to stay positive, to feel thankful, to accept my life as it is now without worrying overmuch about the future. A significant wrench has been thrown into my normal work regime here in New York (the Rose Main Reading Room at NYPL will be closed for 6 months due to safety inspections), so I’ve already been feeling displaced; perhaps geographic displacement over the next few weeks will actually boost my productivity rather than decrease it. Wishing all of you and my fellow bloggers productive worktimes and carefree funtimes; until the Fall!
Jana:  My summer has had very little material requirements, and many immaterial ones. I’m not moving, I’ve finished the whirlwind of research- and conference-related travel, and I’m spending the rest of my summer puzzling through some of the problems created when I wrote the first couple chapters of my dissertation. So I’m revising one chapter of my dissertation for publication, at the same time working to give a stronger theoretical background to my introduction, and I’m writing a new article on the idea of the club newsletter as a network. Part of this involves what Adrienne Rich calls “re-vision”: looking again at what I’ve written, and seeing things with new eyes, approaching it from “a new critical direction”. But I’m also trying to establish new habits: like Erin, I’m working to develop a regular routine for thinking, reading, researching, and writing, one that facilitates this re-vision. And, of course, I’ve been enjoying the beautiful summer weather, walking and biking in my tree-canopied neighbourhood, playing baseball with my friends, and lounging around the yard with my partner and daughter!
Margrit: Remember the good ol’ times of grad school when summer meant slowing down and finally having unstructured time for writing? Nor do I actually. Definitely not as a reality, but as a pipe dream every academic invokes, but none admits to materializing by the end of summer. My summer has been all about materiality, and very little about dreaming. I’m a pragmatist, and I had decided, some time ago that 2013-2014 would be my last year on the academic job market. And that decision ended up breeding others and opening new ground where fertile possibilities started sprouting. So I took the major step of deciding I would no longer relinquish the meager modicum of control we can exert over our lives to the caprice of an austere job market intent on draining me of all self-esteem and balance. In short, my family is moving east across the country, to where we first landed, literally, ten years ago tomorrow. We figured if we made it over the pond once on a wing and a desire–we not being of the praying kind–we might try our luck again. Bit by bit–sometimes infinitesimally so–I’m taking back the power academia so easily seduced out of me with promises of intellectual fulfillment. My foray into alt-ac has reawakened me to my pre-academic-job-market confidence, and this time, I’m not giving it away. Not for love or money.

Erin: Like Margrit, I too spent the first part of my summer moving. My partner and I moved to Halifax. It is a return for both of us, though this time on very different terms. I returned to a city I already love, but this time I won’t be heading into a contract position and getting ready for a full slate of teaching. Instead, I will be rejigging why it is that I do with my time. I have decided to finish a few manuscript projects as I think through what is next, so I will be working to develop a regular writing routine. I have two books that need finishing and two articles to revise and resubmit. I’ll also be working to prepare my essay introducing CWILA’s new Count which will launch in mid-September.  Over the summer, however, my plans are to ride my bike, read, walk Marley the Dog, hang out with my partner and our friends, swim in the ocean, and generally try to get my feet back on solid ground. Oh yeah, and I’ll definitely spent a great week at/recovering from Sappyfest
Melissa: Summer came, but my schedule didn’t change. It still feels weird, but I relish the lack of pressure to write more, research more, do more. That lack has given me the clarity to begin figuring out what I need to say no to, and what I can say yes to. No to tutoring, and to going to DHSI this year. No to renovating our basement, and to taking a vacation that would be fun but exhausting. No to expecting myself to do real writing after a nine-hour work day, and to requests to review. Yes to writing and teaching only about what I care about, which is graduate reform and neglected poets, and to framing writing as self-care. Yes to enjoying our home as it is, and to a long lazy train ride to cities and people I adore. Yes to ice cream for dinner, and to picnic lunches. Yes to spending more time with the people and creatures I love, and to conquering the fear of putting my heart out in the world. And yes to fulfilling my vocation of helping those who academia disenfranchises, which I’m lucky to do at work and on H&E.