Thursday, January 10, 2019

Comedy, tragedy, and the start of my sabbatical

It's the first day of classes and my colleagues are busy teaching, but I'm in the library doing a little research. Yes: this is the official start of my spring semester sabbatical! Which is a good thing, because I would be totally unprepared to teach classes today since I only got back in the state yesterday.

Snow and gray skies met us as we crossed the mighty Ohio River, and I mourned the sunshine we left behind. It's not so much that I want to live in Florida full-time--I don't--but Ohio is not at its best in the bleak midwinter, when the dominant color is gray and the woods look cold and lifeless.

So I'm enjoying sitting in my favorite library under the sunny yellow light and pursuing the light of learning. I'm excited about my sabbatical projects, including one great opportunity that arose out of the blue. Here's what I'll be working on for the next six months:
  • Revise and resubmit the big garbage essay.
  • Research post-9/11 literature for two purposes: to expand a conference paper into a publishable article, and to prepare for the capstone class I'll teach on the topic next fall.
  • Take a research trip to New York!
  • Edit a collection of essays on Teaching Comic Texts, part of the MLA Options for Teaching series. 
That's a lot of work but I'm always happier when I'm busy, and the variety of projects will prevent me from becoming bored. I hadn't planned on doing the MLA collection but it arose at a good time and it fits in well with what I've done before and how could I say no to an opportunity to write and edit essays about comedy? (I'll be posting a link to the Call for Papers very soon--stay tuned!)

So I get to spend a semester pursuing some of my deepest interests--how literature helps us make sense of garbage, trauma, violence, and disaster--and when that starts feeling too heavy, I can switch over to reading and writing about teaching comedy. (Tragedy and comedy have a lot more in common than you might think, but if I switch too quickly between the two, I'm likely to get whiplash.)

Artificial sunshine in the library

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