Category Archives: Research

End of Semester Reflections

I finished my second year as an assistant professor of English at Hostos a few weeks ago, and while I was tidying the end-of-semester detritus in my office, I took a picture of the fastidious four-month wall calendar I maintained since the term:Photo of the 4-month calendar—February through May—on the wall of my office. All the dates are crossed out. You can make out all daily events.

For a full time, 4-5 position, this was a relatively “light” term thanks to both what CUNY calls “junior faculty release time” (which relieves profs in their first five years from 24 hours of teaching) and my service as a faculty advisor to our writing center. It took me nearly a year to fully grok how “hours” work for full-time staff, but here’s the short of it (in case any of my friends in wealthy R1 institutions want to know what they’re missing out on, and in case any of my friends on the ever-lasting job market are contemplating a career at a community college): full-time CUNY instructors at the 2-year colleges teach 27 hours per year, meaning 5 then 4 three-hour courses each semester, respectively. (Getting assigned to 6-hour developmental courses reduces the total number of courses you teach each semester, but it still amounts to a lot of hours in the classroom. ) You’re also required to hold a few office hours a week in addition to your service. I didn’t formally learn much about “service” in grad school, but a large part of “service” translates to “many, many meetings.” In short, this Spring I managed to secure myself a schedule in which I taught only one course (!) and thus was ostensibly responsible for coming in twice a week to teach it.

Or so I though. That sounded great, right? Like, damn I have to come in twice a week? Imagine all the articles I’ll finish! Imagine the book proposal coming together! The conference talks! But look at that calendar. This is the thing: I  still had to attend all those meetings and events and trainings. I had to lead PDs for Writing Center tutors on various Fridays. FRIDAYS!? (The former high school teacher in me is shaking her head at my precious new standard for daily life, of course.)

All this busyness, for which the idea of a light schedule had ill-prepared me, meant that I discovered a weird axiom that is probably applicable to many jobs in service- and teaching-heavy institutions:

No matter how many hours you think you’ve secured for writing and research, meetings will take up all the space anyway.

No one can “see” you working alone on your book, deleting, suffering, rewriting, suffering, ILL-ing books from CUNY libraries in other boroughs (FYI I have been told by our circulation librarian I’m the second-highest user of their services of all the faculty), suffering, and doing all that reading that goes along with it. So that invisible labor—which, to be clear, is also required of CUNY 2-year college professors for tenure (though many community colleges don’t have this requirement)—doesn’t seem to count quite as much as a in the short term because it’s invisible. Saying “no” to committee invitations and professional development events is extremely difficult.

Down the road, I’ve been assured and counseled, the end result of putting effort into writing and research actually counts more heavily toward tenure and promotion than the fact that you’ve attended 63 meetings in a semester. But the daily work of protecting that time, and the superficial cost of doing so, make it difficult. I’m realizing that as someone who is passionate about research and writing, the work of protecting that time while developing a meaningful relationship to the daily life of my extremely vibrant college is going to be the serious work I have to do for myself.

So this has been the main lesson of my second year, made visual by this white-board calendar. I will conclude this post by zooming into my favorite event of every Spring:

Calendar depicting May 1-4 with the notation "Jazz Fest NOLA".

My Article in Studies in Romanticism – Read everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about the Reverend John Chetwode Eustace

I fantasize that one day, I’ll be able to write a whole book about this fellow John Chetwode Eustace, a much-maligned Irish-Catholic priest who went under the gauntlet posthumously in Little Dorrit. I can’t thank Dickens enough for deriding him, however, because otherwise I would never have found out about the man who wrote one of the most important proto-guidebooks of the nineteenth century, and I would never have published this, my finest work, in Studies in Romanticism. 

Image result for studies in romanticism summer 2018

 

PR 5251. C77 and on…

I finally paid a visit to the Cook & Wedderburn monolith at the Young Research Library. Lo and behold:

IMG_4259

Just an FYI, only 2062 copies of this 39-volume motherlode were printed.

As you can see in the photos, the publisher (London: George Allen and New York: Longmans, Green & Co.) did not skimp: the first image in the first volume is a full-color reproduction of Ruskin’s sketch “End of Market Str Croydon.”

It is with a bit of specialization-chauvanism that I mention that in this particular aisle in the library–the PR 5200s-5400s–one can find some extraordinarily beautiful texts. Here, I’ve snuck in a few pictures from the collected Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott published in the 1890s and the 1923-24 Tusitala Editions of R.L. Stevenson, with gold-embossed palm trees. I need to find out who bound these!