Saturday, February 25, 2006

Yesterday's presentation

I totally overstressed about yesterday's presentation, but that's not uncommon.

I'd prepared a little statement with bolded concepts I didn't want to miss, not so I'd read it, but so I wouldn't miss the bolded concepts, and because that's one way I brainstorm. Before that, I'd brainstormed a bit with one of my favorite colleagues, Carrie, who was, as always, incredibly helpful and insightful. Carrie was able to make a good connection between the issues we've discussed in other recent meetings and what I wanted to say about my own course.

I have a bad habit sometimes of being self-deprecating when I shouldn't, when doing so is likely to leave people with the impression that I really am unqualified, unable, inapt, whatever. Those of us who read feminist theory about communication are familiar with the practice as one we're trained to use as women. It's not that being self-deprecating isn't sometimes useful, but that I tend to do it when it's likely to take away from what I want to say rather than, say, to set an audience at ease. (I've done it here, making jokes about having only two readers, when in reality, the site meter thing shows a few more.) I'm aware of it; I hate it when other women do it, and yet I find myself doing it sometimes.

The department gathered, at least those who were coming, including our Deanling. I'm uncomfortable with the Deanling, and I can't quite put my finger on why. He moved from being the English department chair to being primarily a Deanling the year I started, so I interviewed with him as Chair in spring, but when I arrived it fall, he had moved over to the administrative offices. (He usually teaches one course in our department per year, completely of his choosing, and pretty much owns that course. It's outside my field, so /shrug on that issue.) Part of my discomfort is that I don't know him well. For some reason, I think he thinks I'm not up to par. My sense is that his heart is now firmly administrative, and not educative, and I think all administrators should think primarily as educators. My other sense is that he's a sexist, though I'm not sure why I have that impression. To be honest, I don't know him well enough to have any real impression of him.

Were I a good Freudian, I'd no doubt explore my transferences, and think about my relationships with male authority figures or penis envy or something. Except I've mostly managed to get along decently with male authority figures, and penis envy is so not where someone who cares about feminist theory turns for answers.

We mostly sat in a circle, except that the Deanling and one other person sat behind the three of us who'd been lined up as speakers, so we couldn't see them without turning around. There was room in the big circle, still, so sitting behind us seemed like a weird move. And the stakes? The Deanling, before he'd moved along, had taught the theory course which was a pre-cursor to our present course, had probably developed it, even. He hadn't come to either of the preceding meetings, so his presence stood out yesterday.

There were three of us asked to start the discussion by explaining what we do in our theory class and what we want students to get out of it. The first two were our "real theory" folks, two young, cool, hip men, and I was third.

Sitting there listening to my very smart colleagues talk about their classes, I tried to figure out what I could say when my turn came, and I felt myself wanting to start with a comment about not being a "real" theory person. But there's the Deanling there.

When it was my turn, I started off by talking about brainstorming with Carrie, and thinking about how my theory class fits into our central line that way, and the connection worked well for the folks I could see, I think, because I saw nods and agreement. I did well, and I'm happy and relieved about that.

Overall, the discussion was helpful; I learned from my colleagues, and contributed, too.

Afterwards, Carrie came by my office and said how cool it was that I'd given her credit for helping, and how it modeled good community on a couple levels. You know, when someone you really respect tells you you've done something well, that just makes the day, doesn't it?


  1. Good for you!

    And I definitely sympathize with the self-deprecation problems.

  2. Yep, mostly I feel sort of beyond it for important stuff, but sometimes, it's all over my brain. Alas!