Monday, March 26, 2007

RBoC: It's Monday....

  • I haven't traditionally done RBoC posts, but I notice I've been doing them lately. I think I have been using so much writing energy on so many things that every now and again I just can't think to make paragraphs. Wouldn't it be great if my book could be formatted in RBoC-style? That bitch would be totally done if that were possible.
  • Today was pretty wildly productive.
  • How was today wildly productive? I thought you'd never ask.
  • First, I set things in real motion for the MLA panels. Yep, that's right, I said panels. I figure nothing ventured, nothing gained with proposing the special session, and while I'm expecting it to be rejected, I think it would be really cool if it weren't. Yes, it means more work this week, but since the MLA has extended the deadline for proposals to the 3rd because of their server situation, I figure what's a little more work? (This is why I will never have a personal life. Except that I may have a coffee date with Not-Trans-Am on the agenda, and I do have dinner plans with Trans Am this week. So maybe it's just about doing everything all at the same time?). As for the panel that I'm sure is going, well, I think it is going to kick hardcore ass. I'm immensely excited about it. I'm also excited not just for the content but also because I'm getting the chance a) to pay back a mentor for all of the opportunities she's given me, b) to give a grad student the opportunity to present on an MLA panel that will for sure go, c) to bring another junior-type person whom I totally don't know into the fold of this society I'm doing the panel for. One of the things I love about having some degree of power, within the society and as organizer of this panel, is that I get to include people who often get shunted to the side in favor of "regulars" in the world of allied organizations. It's one of the things that I think sucks about some other allieds to which I belong, and it's nice to be in a position where I'm one of the "regulars" but where I get to change the rules of the game a little bit. In some ways, that's why it was important for me to include my mentor in the panel (putting to the side for the moment that her work is tremendously interesting and that she gave me a kick-ass proposal that was exactly what I was looking for when I came up with the idea for the panel). She changed the rules of the game by welcoming me into this little teeny subspecialty, by advocating for me. I'm so excited I have the opportunity to reciprocate, if only in this small way.
  • As for the special session, I need to come up with a racy title and work on the proposal for it. I think the trick will be in showing how this small thing allows us to think about much bigger issues in the field (a) and in showing how it links to critical trends in our field and "fashions" in our field. It's time for this panel - and if the special session is not accepted, I am totally going to push to have this panel go as a society panel in the next two years (with a new call, of course, in that case, but ideally with the ability to include these people whom I've had to reject for the panel this yearl).
  • This also means that I'll be much closer to having a selection of essays for a potential collection, which I'm still not sure I'd want to do, but this will put me in a better position to choose to do such a thing should I wish.
  • I also worked on the final revisions of the last chapter I need to look at for the manuscript. I'll continue with that and finish with it after I write this post.
  • Oh, and I met with two students (one of whom has a kick-ass idea for her research project, one that is truly innovative and interesting and that really would contribute to scholarship on the text that she's looking at, and one that came out of the close reading assignment that I did last week!), I met with a colleague, and I went to a department meeting, where a proposal I cooked up over a year ago finally came to a vote and passed! Next stop, Crazy takes over the world, my friends.
  • Oh, and in thoughtful Crazy news, I mailed off a birthday present (ish, it was homemade) for a friend.
  • Oh, and you probably are wondering about that close reading assignment. I think I said I'd post about it and never did. It was really easy. We were finishing up discussing a novel that day, and I went through and chose 6 or so passages that I would have wanted to talk about in any case. I typed them up. I printed out two or three of each, and I included rules for analyzing them (basically what was on the blog). We started the class by writing. Nobody put their names on the papers, and then I collected them. (I decided not to do the round-robin thing in the interest of time.) I then began discussion, and as we moved from passage to passage, we both talked about the content, but also I read out the responses and we critiqued them - what was good about them, what could have been done more. Also, I did the assignment, too, to show them what I'd have done with it. We got through all of the passages (though I didn't read out every single response - time ran short), but I did take care to read out multiple responses to the same passage to show the differences in what individuals did with them. Since doing the activity, I've had 3 or 4 students schedule appointments to meet with me, so one benefit was I think that the activity made them feel more comfortable approaching me. Another benefit is that I think they all understand now exactly what I'm looking for when I say "close reading." It wasn't the most scintillating class, I'll admit that, but I think we all - me included - learned a lot from it. These really are capable students. They just didn't know the rules (except for those who'd had me before and my one Brilliant Boy who I think was born knowing the rules). Oh, and the ones who've met with me have been primarily female students, and that pleases me because the male students have been dominating to this point in the semester, and that's changing - finally. So yes. It was an easy activity, and it really accomplished so many things. I'll be doing this again - only now I'll do it early in every semester - not after midterm.
  • I talked to A., who's at a professional conference type of dealio, and who is fabulous and doing fabulously on her "first professional business lady trip." Yay A.!
  • So now it's time to finish revisions on that chapter. And I need to see whether I really need to grade tonight or whether I can put it off (I suspect I'm putting it off). And that's the latest with Dr. Crazy.


Sisyphus said...

Go you with your many hats and many things to do. How will it get done? As my friend always says, Sleep is for wussies!

And am I correct in seeing that there is a Mr. Trans-Am _and_ a Not-Trans-Am? _And_ an object of infatuation? I am soooo jealous! I obviously need to get out more and interact with people. And by people, I mean not neurotic male grad students.

Dr. Crazy said...

1) Do not emulate me or be jealous of me. I'm just a boy-crazy freak.
2) I think my OoI isn't speaking to me. Or he's just busy and doesn't pay me proper attention. Whatever the case, the Infatuation doesn't go so well, given the lack of reciprocity in the scenario. Of course, I still love him with a love that is pure and true, and all the more pure and true for the fact that he's disappeared into the ether.
3) Neurotic male professors are in no way preferable to neurotic male grade students. They're just more embedded in their neuroses. Just saying :)

Anonymous said...

there's a woman who presents at the same two panels at one of the big conferences in my field. every year, two panels, two papers that are nearly identical and generally differ very slightly from the same two papers she gave at the same two panels the year before. It pisses me off to no end that her proposals are continually accepted, two a year, year after year, while other folks with fresh ideas are surely turned away.

anyway, my point is, good for you on using your position to make a space for the non-regulars.

k8 said...

Out of curiosity (and maybe I missed this somewhere), in what level course are you using the close reading exercise? I only ask b/c I 'm curious about how much English/Literature experience these students have. I see a lot of 100-level students in our writing center who seem to always need instruction in what close reading 'is.' Once, when I ta'd for a lit course, I took my students line by line (and in some parts, word-by-word) through a Wallace Stevens poem, making a table of referents/trends/issues/allusions/etc. to work with to create an interpretive argument, but we were all pretty brain-fried by the end of the class, so I'm always looking for ideas that are less exhausting (for me and my students). ;-)

Sorry about the lengthy post!

Dr. Crazy said...

K8 -
I did this in an upper-level course, populated by junior and senior English majors. To be honest, I have less trouble with my lower-level students in terms of following the rules for short close-reading-type assignments - I think the issue for more advanced students is that they become used to just doing their thing (which often includes a lot of verbose BSing) and having it work because it's superior to what others do. (I had a student say to me, after he did very well on the last paper, "But Dr. Crazy, I really miss my big words." I replied, "Well, of course you do. But you'll get over it.") I do think this assignment would work in lower-level classes, though, as well, and I may incorporate it into some of my lower-level classes.... I suppose the reason I think it's especially useful in the context in which I used it is that it really prepares them for dealing carefully with literature, something they _should_ be doing, but often not something they are practicing doing in a sustained way.)

Dr. Crazy said...

Oh, and Anastasia: Thanks for the praise on this, but really it's a paying it back sort of thing more than anything else. And I'm not totally immuned to the conventions of having Eminent People participate - remember, I've included my mentor on the panel. That said, the most Eminent of the Eminent people I rejected (someone I cite with praise throughout my book manuscript) and who I was most anxious about rejecting - well, he's already on another MLA panel, which actually made me feel better about my choice. Also, this interaction with the Eminent Person may turn into a professional connection because of how I've handled it, which is really exciting.

But I agree. It sucks always to see the same faces. And I really hope I can do something to make that less the case, in whatever little way I can, while still being totally opportunistic and wanting my face out there :)

Dr. Crazy said...

Oh, and another thing, Anastasia - I think all of the M-K posts are now marked, in deference to the wishes of Kizzy. The Kitty Man is all about his fan base :)

Anonymous said...

woohoo! thanks for the kitty love. Kizzy appreciates it. :)

Renee said...

Oh great! I am glad you are going for it with the special session. Did you notice that the great (and manically productive) Michael berube posted something about his many rejections in 2006 shortly before signing off? You can't be productive without trying stuff, risking (and often getting) plenty of rejections. But even when things are rejected, the ball has started rolling... and besides, I'm betting it will run. good luck!