Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Funny Student Tailz...

Okay - I've pulled back the Drapes of Sackcloth from the windows, I'm taking off my Cloak of Depression and I'm going to eviscerate the cloud to try and find that legendary silver lining.

I realized that there haven't been any Funny Student Tailz here for a while (although there has been some Grad Student Whining) - but enough of that!

Recently heard in a class brought to you by Medieval Woman:

Scene: the end of a class on SGGK at the beginning of which I gave a Pop! Reading! Quiz!!!! (*cackles maniacally*)

Student: "Um, do you need this?" (holds out the reading quiz)

MedWom: "Well, I needed it 65 minutes ago...I asked you all to hand back the quizzes right after you took them."

Student: "Oh," (pokes at me with the quiz)

MedWom: "I can't accept that. We already went over the answers in class. Right after they were all handed in."

Student: "No."

MedWom: (*look of befuddlement*) "No, what?"

Student: "No, you didn't go over the answers."

MedWom: "Well, unless I was hallucinating, I'm pretty sure I did. Didn't you hear the hapless groans of some of your classmates when I read the answers out?"

Student: "No. Are you sure you went over the answers?"

MedWom: "Uh-huh."

Student: "I really don't think you did."

MedWom: (*hands on hips; lookin' sassy*) "Your version of reality is irrelevant in this case. I went over the answers and I'm not accepting that quiz. Good day."

Student: "Don't you trust me?"

MedWom: "Honestly, no. Here, gimme that..." (*looks at quiz to see that all the answers were written almost verbatim for how I'd phrased them when I went over them in class*)

MedWom: "What color was the knight Gawain fought?"

Student: "Huh? I dunno..."

MedWom: (*tears up quiz and throws it in the garbage on the way out*) "See you next week..."


The scarf and jewelry look AMAZING!!! The jacket...not so much. A little boxy for my slightly boxy frame. When I swaddle myself in the shawl, it makes me want to gaze into crystal balls...

I'm going to pick up dear friend at the airport tonight for her campus visit to Dream Academy - here's hoping!

Other than that, not much is going on. Things aren't looking awesome at ANU - they made one hire in TD's field (but not doing exactly the same work) and we're not sure what will happen. What the hell do we do then?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Random Bits of Serendipity

1) The Dream Academy (a.k.a. Universitee de Medieval Woman) is flying out one of my best friends in the world for one of our positions. It looks very much like she would get this position, because the only other option is a failed search. This means that (if she accepted the hypothetical offer) I would have my wonderful, fabulous friend-for-the-past-decade in my department to go along with all the other wonderful, fabulous friends I've made these past few months.

2) Still no word from ANU about TD, buuuuuut they haven't said "no" yet. It seems very likely that they're not having the best of luck with the other offers they've made, so there's still hope. We're keeping everything possible crossed, which makes it difficult to do anything else...

3) I must go to the grocery store because I'm out of *everything* cupboards are fridge is a hollow shell....and I am hungry....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Retail Therapy

Times have been kinda rough here at Medieval Women HQ and so, to balm my chapped soul, I'm engaging in a little retail therapy.

I just bought this:

And these:

Pretty?? You like??

I've had my eye on that shawl for ages and I kept hemming and hawing around about getting it and finally I decided...

Screw it! MINE!!!!!

Oh! And I also bought this:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Things aren't going well with the job search at Chez Medieval Woman and TD. For a thousand different reasons, it seems, (a few valid; most not) we've been put off again by ANU. Although there is still a glimmer of hope, we're making mental contingency plans, which include us both going out on the market again next year.

This whole thing with ANU has become rather surreal - there are things I can't blog about and things I simply don't have the stamina to blog about. It's been frustrating and, in some cases, unethical (on their part). We just keep getting more tiny bits of bad news and it feels like slow torture. Just offer him a job or say that he's last on the list and they're not going to offer it to him. Pick a position and take a stand, folks.

So, this means another year of commuting, no baby, no nothin' - TD could apply to ANU again next year (it's not the whole department; in fact, we know that we have some allies there who are extremely upset about and frustrated with the way this process is going down), but he'll want to spend this year building up his publication profile. I will too, as it seems I'm back out on the market again.

So, just thought I'd explain my blogging silence and my absence from the blogs of others. We could really use some great news. ANY great news about ANYTHING at this point.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Teaching bad articles...

What do we think of this? I haven't read all the critical work on every text I'm teaching in my grad class - give me a couple of years and I will have a better handle on it. There are, of course, seminal articles for many of the texts that I've assigned. But in certain cases, I've assigned articles that are generally related to the theme of the class and on that particular text. But I haven't read the articles yet...

This week, I teach a major canonical text that I've taught many times, but never taught any criticism on it. One of the articles I'm teaching is germane to the topic, but written...poorly. Now, this is a golden opportunity to interrogate the different ways people make (convincingly or unconvincingly) arguments in essays. But how have you all dealt with this in grad classes? Do we mention up front, "this article, while discussing a topic that is central to this course, has important structural problems..."? I think one of the most important things about a graduate class is that it should help students begin doing or continuing the critical work for which they're being trained. However, I've noticed a lot of grad students resist this a bit - they're annoyed when they read (or are assigned) bad articles; they either agree whole-heartedly or totally reject it. It's a subtle thing to be able to take from a critical piece what you can and learn stylistically from the challenges presented by the structure, etc. I think it's rather like listening to a sermon - the challenge is to take from it what helps you the most. I think it's problematic when you take the whole thing in without question or dismiss it all out of hand.

So, how have you approached the teaching a so-so article (it's not horrible) to a grad class? Or do you read all the criticism before you assign it?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Back in the Deep End of the Wading Pool

I am finally totally immersed in the semester (both teaching and administrative) here at Dream Academy. Here's the skinny:

1) The graduate course is finally taking shape.

2) Two new colleagues (from different departments) and I have started a writing group to get us working on whatever we need to get working on. The person whose idea the group was has become a very good friend, but she is also very ambitious and organized - her intervention in her (completely different) discipline is actually staggering. But, this means that she's really good at whipping us into shape. We met last week for coffee and had to bring a general outline of our writing deadlines through March. Now, mine consisted of writing a conference paper for mid-March (which is the seeds of my new book chapter) and applying for a summer institute thing that requires a short essay. My other article is done, so I'm now beginning the long journey of revising dissertation into book. I'm holding off on other articles (except peeling off one more from my diss) until I've got a much better handle on the manuscript and begin sending out book prospectuses. This did not deter our leader. She looked at me squarely and said, "Okay, let's map out the next year of writing for you." I'd already given this some thought because I recently applied for an internal research grant that needed a timeline for the project (which would extend into next summer). The 3 core chapters of the book are in very good shape. The last chapter and the first, introductory/methodology chapter (the one I'm writing from scratch) are not. But, in half an hour of her diligence and my slightly more befuddled effort, we'd looked through calendars and come up with a general but very reasonable schedule of writing, archival research, and revision that would have my entire book manuscript ready to be sent to whoever wants it in early fall 2009, the beginning of my third year on the tenure track. Now, I will already have circulated the prospectus and representative chapters before then. But all of a sudden, the way seemed clearer and very doable. I blinked at her a couple of times and said "thanks!" She just smiled and said "all this is revisable to accommodate babies, etc., but it's a good, let's turn to Second Member of our Writing Group...." Damn, do I like a woman with gumption.

3) We had our first candidate out for the position I've been invloved with (i.e., on the hiring committee). We do our campus visits up right in this neck of the woods (unlike some who shall remain nameless and ever in darkness *cough!DutchmanU*). But we set up 2 great dinners with faculty members, tours, grad student meetings, all the good stuff. Plus lots of down time. This candidate was smart as a whip, a little young and nervous (ABD), and kinda shy, but I think s/he enjoyed themselves. It fell to me to take the candidate on a tour of the city (neighborhoods, apt. complexes, where faculty live, downtown, pubs/restaurants/parks, etc.). Anyway, I never scorn to chat, so I was driving around, eating a Whopper, and pointing out things as well as describing teaching loads, leave policies, collegiality, etc. and all of a sudden I was possessed by the "Ask Inappropriate Questions Imp of the Perverse." I started thinking that I might blurt out something like, "So, tell me everything about your gender, sexuality, marital or partner status, ethnicity, race, and socio-economic background." I took another bite of my Whopper and let the moment pass safely. But, have any of you ever had the feeling that you might, in the course of a friendly chat with a candidate about, say, popular culture, all of a sudden ask, "Okay, how old are you??" when you're trying to establish exactly how much of the mid-80s break-dancing era they were privy to? After all, it's one thing to say you do a helluva head-spin, but you should be able to back it up by saying "I lived for the headspin back in '84 when I was in junior-high"...

This must be the down-side of having a super friendly department - our talk at dinner rarely (if ever) is a polite questioning about their interests, work, if they have any questions, etc. Rather, we quickly stray off into the realm of anecdote ("Let me tell you about the time we got stranded in Nicaragua..."), hokey impressions (last night, the Godfather), and brushes with fame ("My sister one time dropped a scoop of ice cream on Julia Roberts's shoe!").

All of this is to say that it's been a busy, but good week. The forecast will extend into all of next week, but at the end of it The Dutchman arrives, so all is good...