Monday, June 22, 2009

Five-Week Drill

Five weeks ago I posted a "six-week drill": a list of fourteen things I needed to do before my fourth NEH Summer Seminar kicks off at the end of June. Well, the end of June is fast approaching--I have one week left in that drill, which hasn't exactly worked out as planned. Let's see how I did, and what's left.

What do I need to write & do by then, or to get there?
  • Wrap up logistics for the NEH seminar. Books, readings, housing, stipends, festivities, etc.
Ordered the books, arranged the housing and stipends, set up the opening festivity. Still need to copy the readings, and gather anything I don't have in the files. Also need to buy binders, etc., to put them in. Budget cuts meant no student assistant for this, so I need to get on it.
  • Do reading for the NEH seminar--not just the assigned stuff, but a general refresher course, to shift back into poetry-teaching mode.
Did some of this, and need to do more. Pleased at how much I've been enjoying the poetry criticism / intro to poetry textbook / poetry itself that I've been reading recently--the year off from teaching 220 (Reading Poetry) was maddening by the end, but it's clearly
  • Choose the poets / texts for my Modern Poetry survey next fall. Something new, but not too new. Sick of the huge sweeping survey, but if I only did, say, 6 or 8 poets, who would they be? (British, Irish, American, as I please.)
Worked on this, and came to a tentative decision: use volume 1 of the Rothenberg / Joris Poems for the Millennium anthology, supplemented by some more canonical readings in link, pdf, or handout form. This morning, another array came to me: Eliot, Williams, Stevens, Hughes, Auden, Loy, Millay, H.D., de Burgos. But if I can spend an hour or two brainstorming what the supplementary list would look like, I still think the R/J might be the way to go.
  • Prep and teach another four weeks of classes. Ahem. Which means something like four more novels. (I miss teaching poems. Four more poems I could handle.)
This took more of my time than I anticipated. But it's done, and the classes are graded, and you just can't argue with that.
  • Revise the introduction to the New Approaches book.
The file's been opened, but I haven't done this yet.
  • Revise my own essay for the New Approaches book.
  • Edit four more essays, maybe five, for NA.
There were four, and three of them are done. One to go.
  • Write and distribute the Call for Papers for JPRS, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, of which I am the Executive Editor.
Wrote it, got feedback--as soon as I get the final thumbs-up from my Managing Editor and the president of IASPR, we'll be ready for distribution.
  • Assorted work for IASPR, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance.
Did some assorted work for IASPR, although I think that most of it was associated with the next bullet point:
  • Do more fundraising and planning for the Brisbane Conference (AKA "Popular Romance Studies: an International Conference")
That took a lot of my time in the past few weeks, but in the final talley we have 24 talks from a half-dozen countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, and the US. I've wrangled them into panels, too.
  • Decide on the topic for my own Brisbane paper. Can write it in July? While teaching NEH seminar? Hmmm...
This also took a lot of time. As you know from earlier posts, my original thought was to speak about Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, the Clapton album with the Nizami subtext. Watching a recent Bollywood film, Rab ne Bana di Jodi, inspired me to speak about watching Bollywood as an non-Indian American, or maybe to look comparatively at the topos of "redemption through love" in RNBDJ and the romance novel Redeeming Love (a classic of Christian inspirational romance by Francine Rivers, which I've been meaning to consider for classroom use).

In the end, though, I just don't think I have enough time to work up that talk before the conference, so I've decided to focus on something I know as much about as anyone these days: popular romance pedagogy. With a nod to my series of NEH poetry workshops for middle-school teachers, I'm calling the talk "How to Teach a Romance (and Learn from One, Too)." The other, comparative piece I'll save for next year's PCA, maybe.
  • Take care of final logistics for Brisbane: hotels, publicity, contact with local authors and writers' groups, etc.
Did a lot of that, and once we have the final thumbs up from everyone about the schedule, with a website up and so forth, I'll do a bit more.
  • Revise my monograph proposal on romance fiction (including Byatt? Many decisions to be made for this, still.)
This, no work on at all. Which bothers me, but there's simply too much urgent work that needs to be done, displacing thought about this. I can live without it a while longer, if need be.
  • Learn (on trumpet) the music I'll be performing with my son's junior high school band.
Did it, and had fun playing with him. Wish I could spend more time on music again.
  • Learn (on guitar) the parts for five more Alte Rockers songs. (Have I told y'all about the Alte Rockers? Remind me to do so, if not.)
Did it, with great anxiety. I haven't had to play lead before, & was unprepared to start. As an unexpected plus, my son took up the rhythm parts on about half of the songs. Good times, that, and a long-term plan brought to fulfillment.

In addition to the work I listed, there was a fair amount of unexpected work to be done: committee work, for example. And there's still a lot of work to do before next Sunday, when the NEH seminar starts, and even more before I leave for Australia. Nervous about both of those.

In short, I could use to pick up the pace a bit. But not an unproductive period, either.

1 comment:

Laura Vivanco said...

"not an unproductive period"

Nice understatement, there, Eric. I feel quite intimidated by the amount of work you've been doing. In fact, I think I need a tea-break to help me get over my feelings of inadequacy....