Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The academic year is very rhythmic, with different sorts of rhythms depending on your schedule (quarter or semester, for example) and what you do. As someone who's primarily in the teaching end, I'm looking at the beginning of the school year, a new class, a sort of new class, and a new text in the writing class.

When I was a kid, there was a stronger rhythm to the year; the beginning of the school year (which used to start in September for us) meant new clothes, new notebooks, maybe a new backpack, and the round of stuff to finish before the school year started. Now, I don't buy new clothes or a backpack, but I still have the rounds of stuff, and I love office supplies. I'm thinking about getting some new grading pencils. Yes, I'm very particular about my grading pencils. Mmmm, grading pencils.

In the round of stuff to finish category, I got my teeth cleaned yesterday, so they feel good. (And can I just say, the digital x-rays that show up on the computer as bigish pictures are just way cool to look at! The hygenist was showing me my bone and stuff. Neat!)

I would be looking forward to the semester a lot more if I didn't know that winter would come soon after we start. When I was a kid, winter meant wearing a sweater rather than carrying one just in case (which, even during summer, you might well need). Now winter means miserable cold. Ugh.

In college and grad school, I used to love going to the bookstore to get my books. In college, it was exciting to see what I was going to be learning. And in grad school, there was the added pleasure of "raiding" what other classes were reading for interesting looking books. (I know! Naughty Bardiac! But there were novels and theory and all sorts of cool things to read!) Here, the bookstore's hardly worth raiding, and that makes me sad, though partly it's an effect of having read so much more over the years than I had before.

I'm reading Ania Loomba's Colonialism/Postcolonialism, which I've ordered for my senior seminar. Loomba does a really good job putting together a basic introduction to a variety of critics whose work has contributed to understandings of colonialism and post-colonialism. But I'm a little concerned that while I've found the introduction really helpful in clarifying relationships, my students won't find it as helpful because they haven't had the expreience reading the critics and trying to figure them out much. Still, if I can get them through it, I think it will help our discussions of the proto-colonial plays we'll be reading. I think we're going to start by mapping out the interrelationships among critics that Loomba discusses, so that they'll have a way to visualize things, and then they'll be able to think about which critics they'll find useful for follow up reading. (Yes, I live a rich and full fantasy life where my students actually do follow up reading. No, I don't want to face reality.)

I've already started getting the endless emails about administrative stuff. Other than the one I whined about the other day, I got one today that says basically, the [thing we do] doesn't work well; we aren't changing it. Yes, assessment is so bleeping useful! I'm so glad to have read that report now. I can't wait for the meeting about the same.

I'm expecting the usual email about how we suddenly and shockingly have first year students who don't have classes to sign up for, and won't we just make room for them by overloading all our classes. We get an email to this effect every year, usually with slight variations on the cause of the sudden and surprising need for overloads. But instead of adding a writing course section, we're all supposed to overload by a couple students.

I may just have to go to the office supply place and get myself some writing tablets (I like college ruled, and my school/department doesn't believe in college ruled, so I get my own.), and maybe some new pencils and pens so that I'm all in the mood.


  1. Anonymous6:43 PM

    I just got loomba in the mail. it's good to hear you're finding it helpful. I need help. :)

  2. I never felt like academic years had much of a rhythm when I was in the Northern Hemisphere - here the rhythm and seasons seem to be intensified by the match with the calendar year (schools start in Jan/Feb, end in Dec; universities run March to October). And Christmas comes as a nice marker that you can stop tidying up loose ends from the last academic year and start getting ready for the new one.

  3. I read somewhere that September is a better time to make resolutions than January 1st, as the fresh start/new school year ritual we all grew up with makes us more accustomed to changing habits in Sept.

  4. Anonymous10:33 AM

    Dang it, blogger ate my comment.

    Briefly, I have a bit of a school supply fetish too. ;-) But I have to wait until late Sept to indulge, so I feel left out of the fun when all of you are starting in August!