September 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
About twenty minutes ago I submitted by first book review, 1000 words to a peer reviewed journal in my subfield. The review was a week late, written only after three beers and my alma mater’s first football win for the season. When I finally sat down last night, a review that I had been so anxious about writing — in part because I had some mixed feelings about the book — came pouring out. And I am comfortable saying that I think it is both a good review and a good piece of prose.
Because, you see, as I pounded away at the keyboard amidst the white noise of college football on the living room TV, I realized that I have an opinion, I have a strong perspective on my field, and I have a stake in its future. Writing this dissertation, which for so long I feared was just indulgence in my own narrow scholarly and personal interests, was in fact a process of shaping me as a scholar who has a perspective on questions that I care about and other scholars also care about.
I know what you’re saying, WE HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU THIS ALL ALONG. But I still didn’t quite see it. And I think I see it, finally, and I’m excited about this review because as the analysis came pouring out of me (it was surprisingly easy and quick to write in part because I’d been thinking on it and avoiding it all week) I realized that I have more things to say, many more things to say, than my dissertation. That was just the beginning. And it will need its own considerable share of work from here on on out.
And now, friends, as I sit in the cool sunny Southern morn chowing down on toasted pancakes, leftovers from yesterday, I find myself staring down my first week on the job market. On Friday, the first applications with be due. Between now and then I’ll need to write a few lectures, prep a few discussions, read one overly long paper on Civil War and memory by an enthusiastic student, AND revise my job materials. I’m scared, I’m excited, I’m not ready, I am ready.
I also found out this week that despite what the rumor mill was churning out about the possible future of my position, the faculty member I am replacing for the time being has decided to return to the post of professor in the coming year. That means that any possibility of renewal that I may have harbored is now completely dashed. For this reason, my Wednesday was quite rough. I got the news as I watched Michelle Obama deliver a stirring “I love my husband and I’m the most articulate first lady ever so elect him president” speech and wrote my lecture on the wars between English and Algonquians in the 1600s. And I cried with frustration, even while knowing that on paper nothing had changed. I was still a one year VAP, but I had lost the hope of a small safety net that I had been foolish enough to harbor for the last few weeks. But there are jobs for me to apply for and postdocs and there will be visiting positions, and I am a scrappy lass, I’ll make it through. We’ll all make it through.