Short Pause…

…in which Annie discovers she has most totally over-committed herself for the next two months with “to dos”–the usual academic to-dos in addition to the usual course prep/meeting stuff/applications for future  to dos.

It’s the first week of the new term and I’m swamped. I have 4 over-enrolled classes, with many new students (including an “Annie”!) to get to know and to try to teach something to.  In one class, I had to ask the 15 folks in the wait list to literally leave the classroom to give us some air. My literature class now has nearly 50 students–a horrific number that some ancient members of our department allowed in exchange for smaller composition classes.

I have advisees who need advice about transfer issues, life, including one ex-rodeo queen (really) who has,  after 2 years of a slightly below 2.0 gpa, discovered that keeping a date book is, well, awesome.

I have several adjunct colleagues needing reference letters for their applications to the jobs that are really out there at other community colleges, and I have to decide whether or not to throw cold water on their chances of actually getting those few jobs.

I have an article due soon and two public (local-ish) presentations I need to prepare.

I am still not finished with the book I started on the airplane: John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River, a most amusing book with all its plot twists, repetitions, surprises, and just plain funny characters and plot, if you’re a Irving fan (sort of tedious and repetitive if you’re not a fan). It’s no A Prayer for Owen Meany (his true success) but I’m still reading….

I did just finish Katie Roiphe’s article from the New York Times, “The Naked and the Conflicted” and found it as amusing as anticipated. I met her many years ago at a conference, thoroughly enjoying her company (let’s say we were both enjoying ourselves at that conference), and have read her work with some pleasure ever since.  She’s the thorn in the side of those who allow themselves to be pissed off by her irreverence.  Not that I always agree with her, but this article is just plain funny, and yes, I sort of agree with her this time.

Read it, and discuss. I’ll be back….

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5 responses to “Short Pause…

  1. 50 students in a literature class is ridiculous…I have enough trouble with 45. You must have developed some terrific methods to encourage discussion.

  2. …and I read the Katie Roiphe essay. Terrific stuff. It’s helpful to be reminded that guys like Bellow, Updike, and Roth were once pretty edgy and daring, especially since my students today see them as dinosaurs, and boring dinosaurs at that.

  3. FIFTY students???? That’s brutal, Annie. Everything you have on your plate sounds overwhelming, and I am sending you best wishes for managing it all without stress. Hugs!

  4. Hi Bev and Ink: Yes, 50 students (actually the “max” is 49, oddly, but I usually round up). It’s been YEARS since the staid American Lit survey class has had so many students enrolled, but obviously students are desperate for classes, any classes (we’ve had a huge influx of new students every quarter for the last year). I meet them for the first time tonight (AND, it’s a night class in a town where it snows/ices regularly, so night classes are usually not that popular in winter): I do hope at least SOME of them are interested in American literature?

    And I’ve pulled out my bag of tricks to find ways to encourage discussion. I’ll see how that goes….

    Some of the feminist bloggers I read were appalled by Roiphe’s essay, tagging her with the anti-feminist label that she actually COURTS, but I agree Bev: her point is quite accurate. Male writers today, not so much into depicting radical sex to reflect their less radical goals.

    Roiphe wrote a wonderful essay on Mary McCarthy over 15 years ago—an earlier sexual radical with her flying diaphragm and sex on a train.

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