Archive for February, 2011

Color Sunday Barnaby: March comes in like…

As has been noted previously on this blog, a color Sunday Barnaby ran from 1946 to 1948 — apt, because when in 1942 Crockett Johnson showed cartoonist (and PM Art Editor) Charles Martin a Sunday strip, Martin then shared the strip with PM Comics Editor Hannah Baker.  She decided to run it, beginning Barnaby‘s ten-year run.  Apart from these Sunday strips, Barnaby ran six days a week — Monday through Saturday.  Courtesy of the generous Colin Myers, here’s a Sunday Barnaby from 64 years ago — March 2, 1947 — commemorating the transition from February to March.

Barnaby, 2 March 1947

(Don’t forget: clicking on the image will provide you with a larger version.)

You’ll note that the author of the script is Ted Ferro, and the artist is Jack Morley.  Morley does a good job of approximating Johnson’s precise line, but Ferro’s wit is not as sharp  — though, to be fair, few people had a wit that measured up to Johnson’s.  Recognizing the lesser standard of the Morley-Ferro Barnaby, Johnson in 1948 resumed writing the words himself, though he left the art to Morley.

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What Do Professors Do All Week?

David Macaulay, The New Way Things WorkStarting last Saturday, I began chronicling just what I do every day — in an effort to make visible the (usually invisible) work that academics do.  Now that this week-long experiment has concluded, I am glad to take your questions.

Q: 62 hours!  Was that more or less than you expected?

A: I honestly had no idea.  I felt sure that I worked more than 40 hours a week, but I had never kept track of how many.  I can say, though, that the number doesn’t surprise me.

Q: Doesn’t recording your every minute incline you to be more productive, and thus isn’t this chronicle a misrepresentation of how you spend your weeks?

A: Yes and no.  Yes: the panoptical effect of knowing that I must be accountable for every minute inspired increased productivity.  I’m sure of that.  I spent less time on Facebook and more time working.  After all, people were watching, and I was holding myself up as representative of my group (professors).  I wanted to put in a good showing.  No: if this increased my hourly work total (and I expect it did), I would guess that it did so by no more than two or three hours.  I spent a little less time on Facebook, but I still spent time there.  So, in this sense, the account remains a true reflection of how I spend my weeks.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at my CV — which represents only the research side of my job.

I also think this is representative because I know there are weeks when I work more than 60 hours.  When I travel to give talks or present at conferences, I’m simultaneously keeping up with my other work.  I get a lot of writing done on planes.  I wrote most of the biography for the Seussville website on a plane, for example.

Q: Come on, I bet you did more push-ups for the blog.

A: Nope.  Exercise was normal, save for the failure to get off of my butt on Thursday.

Q: Well, OK, maybe you did work over 60 hours this week, but professors get summers off!

A: It’s true that I don’t teach during the summer.  I also don’t get paid during the summer.  However, surprising though it may seem, I do work during summers.  Articles still need to get reviewed for journals, and manuscripts for presses.  Conferences happen — I have two coming up this summer.  And, of course, there’s research.  Whether I’m traveling to archives, interviewing people, getting books via interlibrary loan or via the library, or simply thinking about projects, I am conducting research.  I also write more during the summers.

Q: You’re telling me you work 60 hours per week during the summers?

A: Honestly, I don’t know.  I’ve never kept track.  I suspect that it varies.  My guess is that, on an ordinary week, I work more like 50 hours per week.  That said, I can also think of summers — such as 2005, when I was on a Smithsonian fellowship — that I suspect I worked more.

Q: Why would anyone work 60 hours per week?

A: Many people work more hours than that, and for less satisfaction.  I do this job because I find it interesting.  I like learning things and then sharing what I’ve learned.  I’m fortunate to have a job from which I derive meaning.  If you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re willing to put in more hours.

But that’s only half of the answer.  The other half is the uncertainty.  Yes, I am tenured, and a full professor.  I have “job security.”  However, I also have not received a raise in three years, and I know that the U.S. is divesting from public education.  President Obama called our current economic situation “our generation’s Sputnik moment.”  In response to the original Sputnik, the U.S. invested in public education.  In response to the new one, will the U.S. continue its decades-long divestment from public education?  Certainly, the party of “fiscal conservatives” (which ran 8 years of deficit spending before it noticed the deficit) proposes cutting funds from public education (hey, how else can we sustain tax breaks for millionaires and corporations?).  But perhaps some investment may come.  I don’t know.

I do know that jobs like mine are disappearing.  When I received the Ph.D., each year one in 4 English Ph.D.s found a tenure-track job.  That figure is now 1 in 5.  Here in Kansas, Gov. Brownback is too savvy a politician to pull a Scott Walker on us — he’s more likely to dismantle one public institution at a time, rather than go after several at once — but he’s of the same mindset.  Tenure is no longer enough.  I need to try maintain “portable tenure”: should sustained neglect cause this ship to sink, I want to be able to find another ship.

Also, the three post-Ph.D. years as an adjunct were formative ones. Maintaining a steady rate of production got me out of that lean, tentative period and into this better, if extremely busy, one.  But I retain the sense that what I have remains fragile.  If I work at it, though, then I maintain some peace of mind.  I know that — even though it may yet slip away, come unraveled, collapse — at least I’ve done my best to keep it all propped up.

Q: What have you learned from this experiment?

A: I don’t like living in the panopticon.  And I’d hate to teach at Kean University, which (as Lia tells us in a response to Tuesday’s post) requires professors to keep a timesheet.  Academic labor doesn’t really break down into discreet parts.  You think, write, edit, prepare for class, grade papers, where and when you find the time.  I found it very difficult to document precisely how I spent my time because often the increments were very small or I was engaged in multiple tasks simultaneously.

Also, this job requires time for unmonitored reflection, the thinking that happens simply because there’s time for it to happen.  If you’re always worried about monitoring your time, there’s less space for spontaneous discovery.  It’s liberating not to be keeping a daily log today.

In conclusion, as the movie theatre announcements say, “Thank you for your time and attention.”

The full “What Do Professors Do All Day?” series:

SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursday, Friday.

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day? Friday

Tim Egan, Friday Night at Hodges' Cafe (1994). One of my all-time favorite children's books.Yes, this week-long series is coming to an end today.  This is the final installment in my attempt — via a brief autobiographical account of my daily activities — to explain precisely how academics spend their days.  Tomorrow, I’ll offer some reflections on life in the panopticon & answer any questions you may have.  But for now, it’s a chronicle of…

Friday, 25 February 2011.

11:30 pm (Thurs.) – 6:35 am (Fri.).  Asleep.  Again woke up warm, but was able to go back to sleep swiftly.  A much better night’s sleep.

6:35 am.  Up!  Still have some mild bronchial what’s-it, but it’s mild.  It’s no worse than yesterday.  At present, my sense is that rest + vitamins are taking care of it.  However, will monitor this today & see if doctor’s visit proves warranted.

6:35 – 7:10 am.  Speeded-up ablutions, dressing, & breakfast because…

7:10 – 7:30 am.  Shoveling!  Fortunately, not much snow had fallen since the previous night’s shoveling.

7:35 – 7:40 am.  To campus.

7:45 – 8:00 am.  Wrote the preceding, checked Facebook.

8:00 – 8:15 am.  Added “Thursday” links to all blog posts (meant to do this last night).  Decided on Tim Egan‘s Friday Night at Hodges’ Cafe for today’s image.  Egan is one of the greatest and most underrated picture book creators working today.

8:15 – 8:25 am.  Class prep for English 355.

8:25 – 8:35 am. Apparently, the Reading Matters newsletter was not done.  Added two late entries.  Also subtracted an entry that was supposed to have appeared on-line yesterday.  It’s still not up this morning, and so we’ll save it until the next issue.

8:35 – 9:15 am.  Class prep for English 355.  Hard to find single-color packs of blue, black, white, orange construction paper.  So, I separated these out from packets containing many colors.  If playing with construction paper makes me feel a bit like a grade-school teacher, that’s a-OK.  The Molly Bang exercise is a great hands-on class for all ages.  (When we had her visit here, she did this exercise with the students.  I now try to “channel” her when I teach this particular day.)

9:15 – 9:30 am.  Via Leonard Marcus on Facebook, found these remembrances of Margaret K. McElderry.  Logged on to Twitter & shared it, & discovered these remembrances of Janet Schulman.  I exchanged a couple of emails with Ms. Schulman (re: The Annotated Cat), but never met her in person.  Also, thanks to Bill Kartalopolous, came upon John Porcellino’s thoughtful comic in support of teachers.

9:30 – 10:10 am.  Class prep for English 355.  Also: Complete Barnaby email.  Looks like our source for 200 Barnaby strips may in fact be a source for more like 400 Barnaby strips.  Cushlamochree!

10:10 – 11:05 am.  Class prep for English 703.  Re-reading, refining questions.  I suspect that students will find today’s essay (by David Rudd) challenging, but it’s important that they grasp it (it’s a smart piece).  And we’re applying it to Anthony Browne’s Voices in the Park (1998), which is always such a pleasure to discuss.  Also, during this time period, made a cup of that Throat Comfort Tea, and drank it.  Really good stuff.

11:05 – 11:15 am.  Thinking about English 703, expanded notes on Voices in the Park.

11:30 am – 12:20 pm.  English 703 (Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature).

12:30 – 1:00 pm. Lunch.  More Throat Comfort Tea.  Re-reading Molly Bang’s Picture This for English 355.

1:00 – 1:15 pm.  Responded to personal note via Facebook.  Also checked in on Maria Nikolajeva’s blog — inspired by my idea, she has been doing the same thing this week.  I have, in fact, checked in on her blog earlier in the week, but I think failed to note that I’ve done so.  Also responded to FB comment re: this blog.

1:30 – 3:20 pm.  Two sections of English 355 (Literature for Children). Inspired by Molly Bang, I give students four pieces of construction paper — white, black, orange, blue — and a pair of scissors.  As she did when she visited us a few years back, I have them do two pictures — first of which is to create a scary picture featuring birds or fish.  They’re not allowed to glue their images down.  And they have exactly 5 minutes to create the image.  We then have them put the pages in the middle of the room, while we gather around and discuss which pictures evokes fear well, how it (and others could be improved).  It’s an effective way of getting people involved in reading pictures, and thinking about the choices that an artist makes.

3:30 – 4:40 pm. Went to hear novelist Philipp Meyer speak, on campus — part of the English Department’s Visiting Writers & Speakers series.

4:40 – 4:55 pm.  Answered student emails.  Colleague also kindly offered me a cough drop.  (I managed to suppress my cough during the reading, and am letting out some of the coughs now.  It’s odd.  I don’t feel particularly ill — I just have a low-grade but persistent tickle in the back of my throat.)

4:55 – 5:05 pm.  Twitter, where I found The Oatmeal‘s The Likability of Angry Birds, which is the only video game (app game?) I play — though I haven’t found time for it this week (yet!).  Natalie Cecire (ncecire) led me to ProfHacker‘s ”We’re All Badgers Now: Weekend Edition” (Chronicle of Higher Ed), a good piece on the uprising in Wisconsin.

5:05 – 5:35 pm.  Homeward bound, via the People’s Grocery.

5:40 – 6:40 pm.  Reception for Philipp Meyer, at Dan and Sarah’s house.  Had a nice chat with Mr. Meyer & others.  Yes, I count both the reading and the reception as work — pleasurable work, of course!

6:40 – 6:50 pm.  Logged in to FB, read blog post reporting that Gov. Walker was asked to leave a local restaurant because all the people booing him caused a disturbance.  Also checked email, answered one from a student.  And checked Twitter.

6:50 – 7:00 pm.  Changed from professor get-up (slacks, jacket, tie) into civilian clothes (jeans, jersey, sweater) once more.

7:00- 8:40 pm.  Read (to Karin) from Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  Dinner with Mad Men, Season 3, Episode 12 (22 Nov. 1963) — that inspired me to listen to Steinski‘s “The Motorcade Sped On” (1986), a mash-up of the Kennedy Assassination.  Also watched Rachel Maddow Show, 8:04 – 8:40 pm.  She does a great job.  And Richard Engel does such incredible work (he was reporting from inside Libya tonight).

8:40 – 8:50 pm.  Wrote the preceding entry.

8:50 – 9:15 pm. Listened to music, including the new Raphael Saadiq single, “Stone Rollin’,” & (thinking of Wisconsin) Dropkick Murphys’ “Worker’s Song”  Meandered through FB.

9:15 – 9:30 pm. Worked on this blog entry — described the English 355 class.

9:30 – 9:40 pm.  Listened to Robyn Hitchcock, Squeeze.

9:40 pm.  OK, time to knock out a paragraph or two on “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” I want to get to bed plenty early tonight.  (Gonna kick this cough!)

9:40 – 10:00 pm.  Worked on tomorrow’s blog post, “What Do Professors Do All Week?

10:00 – 10:30 pm.  Worked on “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” (the ChLA 2011 talk that Julia and I are doing).  Wrote new paragraph.

10:30 – 10:37 pm.  Cox Internet cut out, as it does from time to time.  The unplugging-and-replugging-in method brought us back up on-line again.

10:37 – 10:50 pm. Listened to music — just discovered power-pop group The Orange Peels. Bought a few tracks off of their 2009 album 2020. Catchy!

10:50 – 11:05 pm.  Edited The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss.  There’s a sentence from 1963 that’s been bothering me since I sent it (along with a couple of paragraphs) to Julia a week or so back.  I’ve now fixed it.  Also made a couple of small changes around 1901 (when Ruth was born).  At this stage, I find the act of editing this to be rather relaxing — in part because all edits are my own judgment, and in part because I think the manuscript is very strong.  Am going to follow up with Walter (editor) on Tuesday: he’s had the ms. since the first of the year, and I’d like a verdict.  Will send the latest version (I’ve been tweaking it since I sent it) along with my query.

11:05 – 11:15 pm.  Proofread this blog.

11:45 pm. Bedtime (estimated).

Total time worked today: 9 hours, 30 minutes.

Total time worked this week: 62 hours.

Tomorrow, please do stop by for “What Do Professors Do All Week?” — in which I reflect on this li’l experiment, answering some of the questions I’ve been asked.

The rest of this seriesSaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesday, Thursday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day? Thursday

Edward Gorey, The Sopping ThursdayAs noted on day one and on subsequent days, the purpose of this self-indulgent chronicle is, via a daily log, to explain the job of a professor. So, it is with a mixture of pleasure and chagrin that the management of this blog welcomes you to…

Thursday, 24 Feb. 2011

11:45 pm (Weds.) – 3:15 am (Thurs.).  Asleep.

3:15 – 4:15 am.  Awake.  Too warm, and it seems I neglected to shut my brain off.  Damn thing keeps worrying about stuff over which it has no control (or certainly not in the middle of the night). I resolutely keep eyes closed, and try to explain matters to the brain.  Moderate success in calming it down, but now stomach is hungry.

4:15 – 4:30 am. Got up, went downstairs, had a banana, and half a glass of milk.  Did three “Salute to the Sun” yoga manoeuvres.  (I don’t really know much yoga, but that one works well for me.)  Also turned down the thermostat by a couple of degrees. Then back to bed.

4:30 – 4:45 am.  Still awake, but gradually fell….

4:45 – 8:10 am.  Asleep.

8:10 – 8:50 am.  Ordinarily, I would go out for a run, followed by exercises (as on Tuesday and Sunday).  Tuesday was colder (14 º F) than today (31 º F), but it was also drier, and I seem to have acquired a mild version of an illness from one of my students — yesterday afternoon’s quiz re-taker was recovering from a cough.  I suspected as much last night, and so I drank an Airborne before bed.  So, today will be exercise-free.  (I don’t want this to turn into What Do (Sick) Professors Do All Day?!) Instead, I have written the preceding chronicle (which, since this is a work-related experiment, I am counting as work — if you disagree, then subtract it from the total at the end of the day).  Also chose the image: looking outside, I think that Edward Gorey’s The Sopping Thursday may prove apt.

8:50 – 9:10 am. Breakfast, accompanied by first half of Malcolm Gladwell‘s “The Order of Things” (on the U.S. News college ranking system) in the current New Yorker.  Thanks for the tip, Greg!  Though I know it’s fashionable to mock Gladwell Industries Ltd., the man does great work.

9:10 – 9:40 am. Shower, dress, etc.

9:40 – 10:10 am.  Facebook & Twitter.  Learned of planned feature-length CGI film of Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand (the book turns 75 this year).  Hmmm.  Pleased to see Kansas Republican state senator Roger Reitz standing up for the arts.  Maybe there is hope that the Kansas Arts Commission will survive, instead of being the first victim in Gov. Brownback’s war on culture. Here’s hoping!

10:10 – 10:20 am.  Made a cup of Throat Comfort tea.  Settling down to grade English 355 quizzes.

10:20 am – 12:20 pm.  Graded English 355 quizzes (both sections), recorded first set.  Also posted new question on English 703 message board.

12:20 – 1:00 pm.  Lunch.  Finished the Gladwell article, which I recommend to any of you affiliated with higher education.

1:00 – 1:15.  Recorded grades for second set of English 355 quizzes.  Also checked email. Nothing, I think, requiring my immediate attention.

1:15 – 1:20 pm.  Facebook check!

1:20 – 2:20 pm.  Handwrote a thank-you letter to Maurice Sendak.  (Drafted & re-drafted several times.  There’s literally no way to convey fully the debt I owe him.)

2:20 – 2:30 pm.  Dishwasher — unloading & loading.  Listened to music during.  A month or so back a visitor to this blog said that P.O.S.’s “Low Light Low Life” is one of the best songs about the Great Recession.  I’m inclined to agree, in no small part due to Dessa‘s contribution.  She is perhaps the best rapper working today, and yet chances are you’ve never heard of her.  Her A Badly Broken Code was one of the best records of last year.  Go ‘n’ get it!  (Below, a video for her “Alibi”)

2:30 – 2:45 pm.  Relief.  Had been waiting to hear back from a possible source for about 200 Barnaby strips.  (This was one worry rattling around my noggin last night.)  Heard back. All’s well.  Whew!  Wrote back, & also wrote back to earlier note from Eric @ Fantagraphics.

2:45 – 3:00 pm.  Tried to find a video for the P.O.S. song mentioned above.  Couldn’t.  So, I embedded Dessa’s “Alibi,” instead.  (Not counting this towards hours worked today — it is blog-related, but it’s not directly related to my area of expertise.)

3:00 – 3:10 pm.  Put away the Seuss rarities (& non-rarities) I showed to my English 355 class this week.  Organized some material for the same class tomorrow.

3:10 – 3:20 pm.  Graded one response paper for English 703.

3:20 – 3:30 pm.  Twitter.  Would love to see Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey at the Boston Athenaeum.

3:35 – 3:40 pm.  Got a ride to campus (thanks, Karin!).

3:40 – 3:50 pm.  Chatted with colleagues, but I can’t claim that the conversations were work-related.  They were enjoyable conversations, but concerned Gov. Walker (in the first case) and the #@$! snow pelting down outside (in the second).

3:50 – 3:58 pm.  Wrote the above entry.  Printed out notes for Graduate Advisory Committee Meeting.

4:00 – 5:10 pm.  Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) Meeting.

5:15 – 5:20 pm.  Homeward through the snow.

5:20 – 5:55 pm.  Shoveled snow off of driveway, walks.  Snow, at this point in the season = it’s so fluffy, I could… curse! (with apologies to Agnes in Despicable Me).  We’re not supposed to get more than 3 inches, but we already seem to have about that amount.  Hmmm.  As kstate_pres (Kansas State University’s President) tweeted this evening, “Ok – this weather officially sucks.”

5:55 – 6:05 pm.  Brief check of Facebook & Twitter.  Also Barnaby email.

6:05 – 6:15 pm.  In perusing the latest issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (36.1), I noticed that my review of Donald Pease’s Theodor SEUSS Geisel is in it.  (That link will only work if you or your university subscribes to Project Muse.)  Added my review to Reading Matters (English Dept. newsletter).

6:15 – 7:30 pm. Read more of Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (we’re into Chapter 5 now) to Karin, during dinner prep.  Then, dinner with last night’s Colbert Report (Stephanie Koontz).  After that, I made tomorrow’s lunch & washed what few dishes there were.

7:30- 7:40 pm. Answered survey for Vanderbilt University’s English Department — they’re gathering employment data for recent Ph.Ds… and, evidently, 1997 still counts as recent.

7:40 – 8:00 pm. Graded another response paper for English 703.  Recorded this grade & the earlier one.

8:00 – 8:10 pm.  Twitter.  Enjoyed this: 5 Seconds of Every No. 1 Pop Single Ever (at BoingBoing).

8:10 – 8:25 pm.  While listening to the preceding, readied & sent in Reading Matters.  It’ll be out tomorrow or early next week.

8:25 – 8:30 pm.  Still listening to No. 1 pop singles, attempted to prepare for tomorrow’s English 703.  That didn’t work.  Music stopped.

8:30 – 9:05 pm. Spent time preparing for tomorrow’s English 703.

9:05 – 9:30 pm.  Break for some of that Throat Soother tea.  Learned via Twitter that McSweeney’s is starting a children’s imprint.  Auspicious news!

9:30 – 10:30 pm.  Wrote another paragraph for “Radical Children’s Literature Now!”  Also wrote more Complete Barnaby emails.

10:30 – 11:00 pm.  Twitter open, quick reply to neocampbellite, who kindly notes that he finds this experiment useful.  Will post link to this in abt half-hour.  In an effort to get at least 7 hours of sleep (and shake this mild bronchial whatever-it-is), I’ll be turning in a little earlier.

11:30 pm.  Bedtime (estimated).

8 and a half hours of work today, which is respectable — especially given that I haven’t felt 100% today.  Tomorrow’s my final day in the panopticon.  And on Saturday, I’ll offer some reflections on the experience — and answer any questions you may have.

The rest of this seriesSaturdaySundayMondayTuesday, Wednesday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day? Wednesday

Emily Jenkins and Lauren Castillo, What Happens on WednesdaysWelcome to the fifth installment of navel-gazing with aspirations.  As noted on day one, the attempt here is to make academic work visible.  Thus: welcome to the day that some call the middle of the week.  (If one works on weekends, do weeks have middles?  Do they have beginnings?  Do they ever end?)

Wednesday, 23 Feb. 2011.

12:00 – 12:15 am.  Checked Facebook, Twitter, responded to comments on Monday’s blog post.

12:45 – 6:35 am. Asleep.

6:40 – 6:50 am. I don’t usually record shower time, but it’s worth noting that during this morning’s shower I wrote (in my head) a few sentences for Julia‘s and my ChLA talk.

7:05 – 7:15 am. While dressing, gathered books I would need to write those few sentences — and brought them to campus.  Dressing took slightly longer this morning because I donned a bow tie (in homage to Dr. Seuss), and it takes me longer to tie a bow tie.  I usually wear the long-style necktie, which I think of as a Windsor because that’s the knot I use.  I have no idea what the long-style tie is called, though.  Does it have a name, beyond “tie” or “necktie”?

7:15 – 7:25 am. Breakfast.  Read more of A. J. JacobsThe Know-It-All, while trying to retain (in my head) the sentences I’d write when I got to campus.

7:42 am.  Arrived in office.

7:42 – 7:56 am.  Checked email, FB, and Twitter.  Thanks to Joseph Thomas’ FB post, checked out this Mother Jones chart of income inequality in America.  This is the kind of thing that Julia and I need to address in our “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” talk.

7:56 – 8:50 am.  In writing those sentences for Julia‘s and my ChLA talk, I ended up writing a paragraph.  It may not be a great paragraph, but it’s something! Also realized that I left my English 703 folder at home, which means that the response papers I graded yesterday (with the intent of turning back today) are at home.  Damn.  Answered email from student who reports absence from today’s English 703 class.  Coincidentally, student is author of one of the response papers abandoned at home.

Philip Nel, 9:21 am, Weds., 23 Feb. 2011. Location: office.8:50 – 9:30 am.  Re-reading notes & criticism for English 703.

9:15 am.  Office hours begin, but today I can only be here for 15 mins. Most students only come by appointment, but — just in case today is atypical, and students do appear — I’ve left a note on the door.  I have to step out to go to what I anticipate will be a half-hour…

9:30 – 10:45 am.  Meeting with Rachel Skybetter of Kansas State University’s Media Relations, which turned out to be not a half-hour.  That’s not a problem, though!  She wanted to speak to Karin and myself about Harry Potter.  We (along with our colleague Naomi Wood) teach the class, and have done some scholarship on Rowling’s series.  The occasion for Ms. Skybetter’s interview is a piece for Perspectives, a magazine devoted to research at Kansas State University.  Glad to help get the word out on Humanities research & Children’s Literature.

10:45 – 11:24 am. Re-reading notes, criticism (Zohar Shavit’s “The Ambivalent Status of Texts” from The Poetics of Children’s Literature &  Julie Sinn Cassidy’s “Transporting Nostalgia: Little Golden Books as Souvenirs of Childhood”), & primary texts (the Little Golden Books Scuffy the Tugboat and The Poky Little Puppy) for English 703.  Brief email response to journalist.

11:30 am – 12:20 pm.  English 703 (Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature).

12:25 – 12:38 pm.  In hallway of ECS Bldg., spoke with student about paper.  Spoke with colleague Anne Phillips about summer English 355.

12:38 – 12:56 pm.  Lunch!  Also: student came by to take quiz.  And: mentored colleague.

12:56 – 1:22 pm. Lunch, continued.  Focus on English 355 (next class), brief conversation with student (after quiz).

1:30 – 3:20 pm. Two sections of English 355 (Literature for Children).  Feeling good about both classes, but especially the first one.  Really got that gestalt going, where there’s a great balance between student discussion and (what I felt was) nifty information.

3:25 – 4:10 pm.  Yet another student makes up a missed quiz (I seem to spend much of my life proctoring make-ups, don’t I?).  Email re: Complete Barnaby. Answered grad. students’ questions re: Langston Hughes and Harlem Renaissance Children’s Lit.  (See Kate Capshaw Smith’s Children’s Literature of the Harlem Renaissance!  See Michelle Martin’s work — has the Bon Bon Buddy essay been published?  ’Cause it’s excellent.  And, for the picture books side, see of course her great book on African-American Children’s Picture books.)  Via email, read research proposal accompanying a request to write a letter of reference on behalf of the applicant (who I met at a conference a year or two ago).  I enjoyed the proposal, remembered our conversation, & wrote back agreeing to write letter (due April 1st).

4:10 – 4:20 pm.  Checked Twitter.  Am trying to stay off of Facebook because of so many postings regarding the news.  Too overwhelming, too depressing.  On the optimistic side, I hope Americans continue to rally behind their public institutions and the workers who staff them.  And I don’t understand the movement to transform the U.S. into a third-world country (expanding the gap between rich and poor, squeezing out the middle class, defunding education, etc.).  And I would like to see our president say more about the role that a progressive income tax plays in sustaining a stable, prosperous society.

4:20 – 4:40 pm. Beware The Giant Zilg! Over at Letters of Note today, you can see a page from Tim Burton’s rejected picture book, and the rejection letter.  The book is quite Seussian.  Complete Barnaby correspondence.  I think I’m gonna have to start working on this introduction sooner than I’d planned — which, frankly, is fine.  Ideas for it have been rumbling around in the back of my head, and starting it will help me decide on which ephemera to seek (one reason that I need to start writing the intro).

4:40 – 4:55 pm.  Responded to personal emails via FB (hmmm… guess I can’t stay away from it as much as I’d like).

4:55 – 5:05 pm.  Spoke with a couple of colleagues.  Also checked (postal) mail, discovered two beautiful antiquarian catalogues.  I, alas, don’t have the capital for such items.  A common question I get asked is “How much is this Dr. Seuss book worth?” or “What is this Crockett Johnson drawing worth?”  I have no idea.  I mean, I wish I did!  But… those items tend to exceed my budget.  That said, if these catalogues list any rare children’s books that ought to be in our library’s Special Collections, I’ll pass along the info. — and, dear reader, it is for this latter reason that I am on both booksellers’ mailing lists.

5:05 – 5:40 pm.  Read applications to graduate program — this is part of my job as a member of the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC).  We have a meeting tomorrow.

5:40 – 5:55 pm.  Talked with colleagues about higher education, & investment in higher education.

5:55 – 6:10 pm.  Put away some of the books I took to class today, packed the ones that needed to come home.  Made sure I brought the grading that needed to come home, too.

Philip Nel, 6:45 pm, 23 Feb. 20116:20 – 6:45 pm.  Home.  Packages!  All books I’d ordered.  Two are gifts.  The rest are not.  Sturrock’s Dahl bio. has inspired me to read more of his work (also will be writing about his work for a paper at IRSCL in July) — so, a few are Dahl books (including a 2006 reprint of his first, The Gremlins).  Also changed from professor outfit into off-duty clothes.

6:45 – 7:45 pm. Read more of Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (we’re into Chapter 4 now) to Karin, during dinner prep.  Then, dinner with Tuesday’s Daily Show (Anderson Cooper).

7:45 – 7:50 pm.  Noticed I was coughing & so made a cup of “throat soother” tea.  I suspect the throat is tired from teaching.  A few years ago, when I lost my voice (due to illness), I drank several cups of this a day.  Teaching without a voice was an interesting experience… that I hope not to repeat.

7:50 – 8:10 pm.  Answering email.  A student for whom I’ve agreed to write a letter has sent me necessary material.  This one is due March 15th.  Throat-soother tea definitely doing the trick.

8:10 – 8:55 pm.  Errand.  Needed some items for my Friday English 355 (Lit for Children) classes.  Will try to remember (on Friday) to tell you precisely what.  (It’s a surprise!)

8:55 – 9:20 pm.  Responded to comments on Facebook.  (All blog-related, but I’m not counting this as “work.”)

9:20 – 9:30 pm.  Worked on English Dept. newsletter, Reading Matters.  If any of my colleagues are reading this, deadline for submissions is tomorrow at 5.  Drop me a line!

9:30 – 9:45 pm.  Weather Channel.  2-4 inches of snow expected tomorrow.  Bleah.  On the other hand, could be worse.

9:45 – 9:50 pm.  Responded to email from a different student for whom I already submitted letter of recommendation.  Evidently, one school to which I submitted it also requires me to fill out a separate form.  Did I fail to fill out form provided?  Or did student not supply me with form?  Doesn’t matter.  I’ll do it.  Ah, but I see that before I fill out form, the student needs to sign and check “waive rights” or “do not waive rights” — have informed student of this fact.

9:55 – 10:40 pm. Listened to KEXP’s song of the day from Feb. 17th (DeVotchKa), 18th (Joshua Morrison), 21st (Aurelio), 22nd (Made in Heights), 23rd (Drive-By Truckers).  Favorites of the group: Made in Heights’ “All the Places,” & Drive-By Truckers’ “Everybody Needs Love.” Checked Twitter feed.  Made labels for new midtempo mixes — oddly, I seem to have completed two simultaneously.  One is happier, the other more melancholic.  Also discovered that back on Nov. 25th (Thanksgiving?), I began making notes for the intro to Complete Barnaby Vol. 1.  There only a handful of sentences, and some fragments cut from the biography, but… it’s better than a blank page.

10:45 pm. It does not appear that I’ll be getting more work done this evening.  I had planned to write more, but I met my paragraph-a-day quota for “Radical Children’s Lit Now!”  As long as I stick to that, the paragraphs will keep accruing.  So… the day’s tally is 11 hours.  I counted lunch among my work hours today because I worked through it.  2 more days, and then I leave the Panopticon.  It’s been an interesting experiment — I’ll do a final blog post reflecting on the experience.

11:45 pm.  Bed (estimated).

The rest of this seriesSaturdaySundayMonday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day? Tuesday

David Wiesner, TuesdayContinuing my mix of narcissism and public service, I bring you day 4 in this week-long series of just what in the heck a college professor does with his or her time.  I hope the “public service” element is winning out over the “narcissism” element, but I have my doubts.  Anyhow, here is…

Tuesday, 22 Feb. 2011.

12:15 am.  One last email (re: Complete Barnaby)

1:20 – 7:30 am. Sleep.

7:30 – 8:00 am. Prepared to run.  Also did quick check of email, FB, and Twitter.

8:00 – 8:47 am.  Ran 4 miles, did chin-ups at park en route (see Sunday for details).

9:00 – 9:35 am.  Post-run exercises (see Sunday for details).

9:35 – 10:00 am.  Quick breakfast, shower, etc.

10:00 – 10:15 am.  Car swap (Karin and I share a car, and I need it this afternoon), during which I also picked up (from my campus office) some books I need to write about today, and left a quiz taped to my door (for a student who missed it yesterday).

10:15 – 10:35 am.  Email to NYU P re: Keywords for Children’s Literature (forthcoming in June), and to my colleagues re: Reading Matters, the Dept. newsletter.  Also added items to the next issue of Reading Matters.

10:35 – 11:30 am.  Had a great chat with Eric Reynolds (at Fantagraphics) re: Complete Barnaby.  I’m so excited to be working with him for this project — Fantagraphics does such beautiful work.  Anyhow, we each have our to-do lists.  And so… onwards!

11:30 – 11:35 am.  Quick FB check, and Twitter check.  One of the more amusing events of the day is being followed by (and starting to follow) Leopold Von Ranke (German historian, 1795-1886) on Twitter.  Quite witty for a dead man — or even a live one.

11:35 – 11:50 am.  Back to Reading Matters.

11:50 am – 12:25 pm. To quote Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), “Lunch break!  Lunch break!”  While I was at it, I assembled all but the sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch, & unloaded / loaded dishwasher.

12:25 – 12:50 pm.  Spoke (over gmail chat) with my friend Jennifer Hughes about her baby shower this past weekend.  She’s due next month.  Exciting!

12:50 – 1:45 pm.  Worked on this blog, made Complete Barnaby To-Do List, email (all work).  Also paid bills (a non-work item).

2:00 – 3:00 pm.  Gym.  Though it sounds like Orwellian double-speak, working out is not work.  It’s not part of my job, but regular exercise does help me do the job better (as I’ve noted on both Saturday’s and Sunday’s posts).

3:15 – 3:35 pm.  ChLA-MLA liaison business: responded to email, updated ChLA’s info. on the MLA’s website.  I had no idea that this task fell within my purview.  I mean: it makes sense, but I simply didn’t know!  Also: another Complete Barnaby email.

3:55 – 4:05 pm.  Picked up Karin from campus.  (She teaches a 3-hour class tonight & thus is home earlier today.)

4:10 – 4:20 pm.  Checked FB, Twitter.

4:15 – 5:15 pm.  Graded response papers for English 703.  Answered email.

5:15 – 6:05 pm.  Read more of Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie to Karin, during dinner prep.  Then, dinner with Monday’s Colbert Report.

6:05 – 6:55 pm. Finished grading response papers for English 703.  I definitely spend too long on these, but my hope is that the thoroughness with which I grade them will provide guidance for both future responses and the longer paper.

6:55 – 7:05 pm. Actually put the grades on the papers & entered them into the gradebook.  I prefer to assign all grades last because it enforces consistency.  (While grading, I place them in piles; at the end, I compare comments to make sure that each paper belongs in right category.)

7:05 – 9:25 pm.  Prepared English 703.  Also posted new question on the class’s electronic message board — I intended to do this last night, but other tasks displaced that one.

9:25 – 9:35 pm.  Made sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch, started dishwasher.  Music listened to during this: Kanye West with Bon Iver, “Lost in the World” (my favorite track from this album); the Temptations, “I Know I’m Losing You” (classic); Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” (a stunning new song that sounds classic).  Some of these may be on the next uptempo mix.

9:35 – 9:55 pm.  Since I know more about Seuss than most, for my final Seuss day in English 355, I’ve invited my students to post questions (on the electronic message board) about Seuss.  This means that each section will be a little different tomorrow.  Both will cover certain subjects, but each will also have some features unique to that section.  So… spent time checking the message boards to see the students’ requests, and gathered the necessary Seuss material to bring in tomorrow.

9:55 – 10:05 pm.  Squandered some time listening to music.  Tinkering with two midtempo mixes.

10:05 - 11:10 pm. Worked on “Radical Children’s Literature Now!”, the talk Julia and I will give at ChLA in June.  Took notes on several books.  Drafted a paragraph.

11:10 – 11:30 pm.  Back with the mixes, tinkering.  Not sure if I’ll get more done today….

11:30 – 11:40 pm.  Proofread this, tallied up hours.

I’m calling that 8.5 hours, but please do correct me if I’m off a few minutes (it’s late, my brain is a feeling a little fuzzy).  Not as full a day as yesterday (11.5 hours), but, then, I work every day of the week.  I can’t work every hour of every day.  Well, I suppose I could, but it’s good to take out time for physical and mental health (with, say, exercise for the former, chatting with friends for the latter).

If you found this surprisingly less tedious and self-indulgent than expected, I invite you to stop by again.  I’ll be continuing this curious experiment through Friday.

The rest of this seriesSaturdaySunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day? Monday, Monday

Adolph J. Moser, Don't Pop Your Cork on Mondays!  Illus. by Dav PilkeyContinuing this quixotic exercise, here is the third entry (of seven) chronicling One Week in the Life of an English Professor (hi, there!).  As noted on the first post, the goal is to make visible just what the heck it is someone like me actually does.  Such labor was invisible to me when I was an undergraduate — and, while I had more of an inkling as a graduate student, I was still largely clueless.

Monday, 20 Feb. 2011.

12:20 – 6:35 am.  Asleep.  Dreamed of Maurice Sendak.

7:10 am. Read, over breakfast (in A.J. JacobsThe Know-It-All) this morning, that Descartes liked to sleep until 11 am.  I don’t think I’d be capable of sleeping that long (unless I were sick).  But it does sound luxurious.

7:35 – 8:10 am.  Office.  Reading email, answering email.  Noticing comments on blog (both on blog itself and on Facebook).  People (well, a few people, at least) seem to find this project worthwhile.  So, that’s gratifying!

8:10 – 9:20 am.  Prepared the English 355 (Literature for Children) class — it’s Seuss, so I know the material well.  But it’s helpful to revisit & rethink it.   Also answered email — related to students, and to panel I’m co-organizing.  And briefly checked in to Twitter.

9:20 – 10:30 am.  Assembled second class pack for English 703 (Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature).  The students are going to need to have this in a couple of weeks.  High time I got it ready!  And, yes, answered more email.  In writing this, I realize how much of my day is spent multitasking.

10:30 am.  Student in to take missed quiz.  When student misses quiz due to legitimate reason (illness, death in family, professional obligation, deployment of family member in military, etc.) and that student is responsible (i.e., reminds me promptly), I try to arrange for quiz to be taken.  Key is getting student to take it before I hand quizzes back.  I don’t want to make up an entirely new quiz.

10:35 – 11:19 am.  Reviewed & expanded notes for English 703 (Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature).  Student taking quiz finished.  I graded said quiz, recorded grade.  Thanks to Cheryl Klein‘s Twitter feed, read Ta-nehisi Coats’ piece on “Presidents Day.”  Turned in that new class pack to Copy Center. And more email: Responded to Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics) re: Complete Barnaby.  Left for class — I like to arrive early so I can get set up.

11:30 am – 12:20 pm.  Taught English 703 (Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature).  Pleased with how it went.  Will blog about it in future, but not this week!  Chronicling my days is consuming my blogging time.

12:35 – 1:15 pm.  Lunch (in office).  Also: another student came by to take missed quiz.  And I reviewed for next class.  Decided to give quiz today, rather than Wednesday.  (I’d been on the fence about which day to do it.)

1:30 – 3:20 pm.  Taught two sections of English 355 (Literature for Children), back to back. Second one was recorded for use in conjunction with the university’s on-line version of the class.

3:25 – 3:40 pm.   Invented new quiz for student who missed quiz I just handed back.  I really prefer not to do this, but student had been ill & traveling, had communicated this absence in advance, and the quiz was less than a week old, … and I felt sympathetic.

3:30 – 5:00 pm.  Office hours.  Student took the quiz.  I answered student email — all from students who missed today’s quiz, and whom I will thus give a chance to make up as soon as possible.  Responded to comments on yesterday’s blog post.  Wrote more Complete Barnaby-related emails. Recorded a few stray quiz grades — I discovered (in class) that I’d missed a few quizzes, & I graded them while students took their new quizzes (in class).

5:00 – 5:30 pm.  A little more Barnaby stuff.  More email answered.  Also worked on this blog!  And at 5:30 checked in with Karin … who had previously reported an anticipated departure time of 5:10 pm.

5:45 – 6:10 pm. Headed home. Once there, checked mailbox (forgot today is a holiday), brought in Manhattan Mercury, changed out of professor costume (slacks, jacket, and tie) into non-work clothes (jeans, jersey/shirt).

6:10 – 7:20 pm.  During dinner prep, read to Karin — up into chapter 3 of Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  The plot thickens!  During dinner, watched the 16 Feb. Daily Show (with Brian Williams). And, of course, only the reading part of this might count as work-related.

7:20 – 8:50 pm. Email check, & sent one that I meant to send yesterday.  Quick FB check — the news continues to be very depressing.  Pell Grants cut, too?  Those plus Work/Study jobs helped me through college.  To do something productive, I attempted to order pizza for those protesting Wisconsin’s governor via Ian’s Pizza on State’s Facebook page (but failed via both links — will try again tomorrow).  Sent out reminder for Reading Matters (English Dept. newsletter, which I edit).  Need to get the March issue out next week.  Assembled some material already sent in for the newsletter, & sent acknowledgments to contributors.

8:50 – 10:00 pm. More email.  Work-related.

10:00 – 10:40 pm. Listened to music & tinkered with mixes (not work-related, obviously), also answered email (only one was work-related).

10:40 – 11:10 pm.  Wrote a couple of paragraphs of “Radical Children’s Literature Now!”, the piece that (as I mentioned yesterday), Julia Mickenberg and I are working on for this summer’s Children’s Literature Association conference.  And then… called it a day.

Total work today: 11.5 hours.  I think that’s right.  If my calculations are off, please do correct me.  Thank you.

The rest of this series: SaturdaySunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day? Sunday Edition

Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy TownIn which we continue the experiment started yesterday — blogging (for this week only) precisely how I spend my time as a Professor of English at Kansas State University. One goal is to demystify exactly what it is that professors do.

Sunday, 20 Feb. 2011.

12:35 – 7:55 am.  Asleep

7:55 – 8:10 am.  Checked email, Facebook, Twitter.

8:10 – 8:30 am.  Prepared to run.

8:30 – 9:17 am.  Ran 4 miles & (en route, in playground) did 25 chin-ups (17 underhand, 8 overhand).  As mentioned yesterday, I can’t call exercise part of my job, but I would say that staying in shape makes me better able to do my job — because teaching is performance.  If you’re doing four and a half hours of stand-up a week, it helps if you’re relatively fit.  This becomes especially important as one ages.  I’m relatively young (early 40s), but still.

9:32 – 10:12 am.  Post-run exercises.  Chronicling fitness routines threatens to turn this blog post into narcissism. On the other hand, professors do have physical bodies, and some maintenance is a good idea.  Well, I’ll leave out the specifics for the rest of the week, but will include them today.  105 sit-ups, 5 sets of “ab-crunches” (of different types, 40 for first set, 20 for other 4 sets), 50 bicycle kicks, 180 leg-lifts.  Rest. 60 push-ups.  Rest.  35 push-ups.

10:15 – 10:45 am With thanks to Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 blog today, during breakfast I watched Weird Al Yankovic talk about meeting his hero Shel Silverstein.  I’d like to read Mr. Yankovic’s children’s book. I’ve been a fan of his since first hearing “My Bologna” and “Another One Rides the Bus” on the Dr. Demento Show, c. 1980.  Also — thanks to Gwen Tarbox on Facebook — re-read Jim Holt’s review of Logicomix, a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell & logic.  I encountered this review when it came out, made a mental note to read the book… and then forgot about it.  Will order a copy, along with the Yankovic book.

11:35 am – 12:15 pm.  After showering & answering email, graded some response papers for English 703.  I anticipate a large batch of these coming in on Monday, and am trying to stay on top of things. I give myself exactly a week to return any item — paper, quiz, response paper, etc.  This often results in “Procrastigrading” (i.e., grading everything on day 6), but in this instance that’s not so.  These came in on Friday.  I probably spent too much time grading them, but I see these (and my comments on them) as helping the students with the longer paper.  Also checked FB during this time — gratified and surprised to see that yesterday’s post has been so widely shared.

12:15 – 1:15 pm.  Lunch.  Read the comics, courtesy of the Kansas City Star.  Today’s Cul de Sac is further evidence of (strip creator) Richard Thompson‘s genius.  As I’ve remarked before, I highly recommend this strip.  And read some of the Sunday New York Times — I highly recommend Sabrina Tavernise’s “Reporting While Female,” which provides valuable context to the sexual assault on reporter Laura Logan.  Kim Barker’s “Why We Need Women in War Zones” is also well worth your while.

1:15 – 1:30 pm. Email correspondence regarding a conference panel I’m trying to assemble (or, rather, co-assemble).

1:30 – 3:05 pm.  Graded quizzes for two sections of English 355.  Also recorded the grades.

3:05 – 3:35 pm.  Guitar break.  Played songs by Leonard Cohen, the Ventures, Psychedelic Furs, & the Cure.

3:35 – 4:20 pm.  Personal emails, including my weekly note to my family — we’re scattered around the globe, but we do make the time for a weekly update.  In the interests of honesty, I confess that mine are sometimes a few days late.  But not this week!

4:20 – 6:00 pm.  Re-read and began preparing to teach Robin Bernstein’s “Dances with Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race” (2009) in my English 703 class tomorrow.  First time I’m teaching this essay.  It’s a brilliant piece and, as I noted a couple of months back, I’m looking forward to her book — due out this year.  I also read Diane Ravitch’s “Why America’s teachers are enraged,” which I would recommend.  As I work each day, my thoughts are never far from the right’s assault on teachers, embodied most dramatically in the person of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who started his term with a surplus, gave tax breaks to businesses (squandering his surplus), declared a budget crisis, and then went after public employees.  The contempt with which he holds the citizens of Wisconsin is both stunning and sadly familiar.

6:00 – 7:30 pm.  Read more of Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie to Karin during dinner prep, and we watched the 17 Feb. Daily Show with dinner.  Also (with Karin) hung up some damp laundry-that-doesn’t-go-in-dryer.

7:30 – 9:30 pm.  Finished prep for English 703 class.  Excited to see what the students think of this essay!  Also: folded laundry (with Karin), & ordered the books mentioned earlier.  Sent email to panelists re: panel I’m trying to co-organize (mentioned earlier).

9:30 – 10:10 pm.  Washed dishes, fixed tomorrow’s lunch.  (No, I don’t count fixing lunch as work-related.)  Folded more laundry (with Karin).

10:10 – 10:55 pm.  Julia Mickenberg and I are co-authoring “Radical Children’s Literature Now!” — a keynote we’re giving at the 2011 ChLA in June.  In terms of the research we’ve done so far, she’s definitely ahead of me.  So, I’m trying to catch up.  Managed to write a little bit this evening.

10:55 – 11:05 pm.  Responded to student emails.  And then… gave up for the day.

I estimate today’s work at 7.5 hours.  A bit better than yesterday.  I’ve had Sundays where I did more, and Sundays where I did less.  But… all in all, this will have to do.  I’m going now (11:10 pm) to respond to a college friend.  The past few days have been “Univ. of Rochester Honors English 1991-1992″ Reunion.  Heard from two folks from that class with whom I’d completely fallen out of touch.  Both found me via Facebook.  And then… bedtime!  I’d love to get in bed by midnight.  So frequently I take until 12:30 (or later!) — which isn’t great on a school day!

The rest of this seriesSaturday, MondayTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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What Do Professors Do All Day?

Richard Scarry, What Do People Do All Day? (1968)Since it’s fashionable in some quarters to attack state employees as lazy (Hello, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker!), I am — for this coming week only — blogging about precisely how I spend my time, as a Professor of English at Kansas State University.  I’m also doing this because, when I was an undergraduate, I had no idea how my own professors spent their days.  I mean, I assumed that they were working: they did show up prepared for class, and turn back graded papers, quizzes and exams.  But what did they actually do when not teaching me?  I didn’t know, and never really gave it a thought.

Saturday, 19 Feb. 2011.

7:20 am: Got up, ate breakfast, while reading A. J. JacobsThe Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (2004).

7:40 am: Checked email, Facebook, Twitter.  Does this count as “work-related”?  Email certainly does.  I answered an email re: the quest to find original Barnaby strips (for the Complete Barnaby).  The other two are more questionable.  It would be fair to say that half of my interaction on both is of a professional nature.  For example, FB led me to Jerry Griswold’s “E-Readers and the Future of Picture Books,” which I in turn forwarded to a journalist who is doing a story on this subject.

8:25 am: Posted questions to the electronic message boards of my three classes (English 703, and 2 sections of English 355).  Sent another email, this one regarding a book award committee on which I serve.

9:15 am: Went to gym to work out. This doesn’t count as work-related, but keeping in shape does help me do my job better.  (Teaching is a performance!)

10:45 am: Read beautiful review of newly translated Tove Jansson picturebook.  She’s one of the greatest children’s writers, bar none.  But most Americans have never heard of her.  In case it’s of interest, here’s my review of the first volume of her comic strip.  (Why this is work-related: part of my job is keeping up with the vast field of children’s literature.)

11:00 am: Adapted letter of reference for a former student.  (I wrote the letter earlier this month, and had already submitted it to another institution.)  This took longer than it needed to because I couldn’t remember my password for the site, and it needed to reset it.  Then there were all the little questions one must address, ranking the student on “maturity and poise” (“poise”? really?), “ability to retain information” (surely the grades would convey this?), etc.  And then, the site wouldn’t actually let me submit the letter at all!  I filled out brief written responses to 3 questions, presuming that I would also be able to upload the letter (as is customary), but no dice.  What the hell?  Emailed student to convey this curious fact, and offered to send my letter directly to the particular school.

11:30 am-1:45 pm.  Did nothing job-related.  Showered, caught up on the week’s comics, loaded/unloaded dishwasher, listened to mix Dan Hoyt made me, ate lunch with Karin & Tuesday’s Colbert Report.

1:50 pm Edited class notes for Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (which I taught during the first half of the week), and posted them for my English 355 students.  They find it helpful to have some of the notes I bring to class — so, I combine extracts of my notes with our full class discussion (I teach in a tech classroom, and “write on the board” by typing on the computer screen).

2:153:15 pm. Also didn’t do work.  Had a nap.  I don’t get enough sleep during the week and try to catch up a little on Saturdays.

3:30 pm. More email.  Also edited and revised a piece I promised to write for the Children’s Literature Association’s website.  It’s on becoming a children’s literature scholar without having studied it formally.  Since there are few (and were fewer) places to study children’s literature, many of us in the field are autodidacts.  The piece is due in a week.  I think it looks pretty good.

4:30 pm. I have to turn in my Faculty Development Award (FDA) application in a week or so. To fund international conference travel, Kansas State University has the FDA.  In my experience, it doesn’t cover all costs, but does cover about 80% of the cost — which is significant.  Anyhow, to gain access to these funds, one must apply.  And so I’ve started drafting this — it’s for travel to the International Research Society for Children’s Literature‘s conference, held every other year (and this year, in Brisbane, Australia).

5:30 pm.  Suspended work on the FDA, began listening to music, tinkering with some midtempo mixes. (I tinker with mixes off and on over a period of months: it’s a manifestation of my obsessive-compulsive personality.)  Curiously, I appear to have two — one which is more melancholic, and one which is lighter in mood.  Obviously, none of this is work-related.

6:15 – 9:15 pm. Read to Karin, while she prepared dinner: Diana Wynne Jones’ House of Many Ways, but abandoned it around page 100.  It’s fine, but not one of her best. We’ve switched to Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which (thus far) is looking more promising. With dinner, watched Mad Men, season 3, episode 11 (“The Gypsy and the Hobo”) — one of the show’s best.  Watched it a 2nd time with commentary.  Reading children’s books is part of my job, but the rest of this definitely isn’t.

9:15 – 10:30 pm.  Resumed work on the FDA proposal.  I now have drafts of the short CV, narrative, & report on previous 3 years’ FDA/USRGs.  I need still to calculate costs.

10:30 – 11:00 pm.  Obviously not work-related. Spoke with my father via Skype.

I didn’t factor in the time it took to write this up — since this has been ongoing.  Anyway, total work time today: I think we can fairly call it 5.5 hours.  Not the most productive Saturday I’ve ever had, but there we are.  It’s time now (11:30 pm) to begin thinking about bed — I also do a little pre-bedtime reading, which is nearly always work-related.  Currently, I’m reading the fourth volume of Frank King’s Walt & Skeezix (comics is a sub-specialty of mine).

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s mundane post.  Or, perhaps, don’t.  I’m doing this to make visible what professors do, but I can’t promise that it’ll be very interesting.  If you found this dull, then you might want to ignore this blog for the rest of the week.

The rest of this series: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post)

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):

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In or Out?: Crockett Johnson, Ruth Krauss, Sexuality, Biography

Ursula Nordstrom, 1969As I wait to hear back from my editor (latest revision submitted January 1st), I continue to tinker with the biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss.  Does my manuscript’s silence on the homosexuality of two important figures — Maurice Sendak (who illustrated nine of Ruth’s books) and Ursula Nordstrom (editor of Ruth, Dave, Maurice) — collude in the closeting of that history?  On the one hand, their sexuality doesn’t figure into their relationship with Ruth and Dave (as Crockett Johnson was known to his friends).  So, then, no need to bring it up.  On the other hand, its absence allows readers to presume that Ursula and Maurice were straight — which is a misrepresentation.  To quote Perry Nodelman on John Burningham’s Mr. Gumpy’s Outing (1970), “Mr. Gumpy’s outing might reveal the degree to which picture books, indeed children’s books generally, replicate counter-productive prejudices about sexual diversity by the forms of silence about it” (133).  Nodelman is talking about a picture book, but the same logic applies to my biography.

Ruth and Dave were both open-minded people.  Their neighbors were a gay couple — Harry Marinsky and Paul Bernard.  Back in 2000, I interviewed Harry via telephone, and I asked him what it was like to be an openly gay couple at that time, in Rowayton, Connecticut. He spoke of how accepting the community were.  He wasn’t a particular friend of either Dave or Ruth, but conveyed no sense that his (or his partner’s) sexuality was an issue.  Similarly, nothing comes up in either Ruth or Dave’s correspondence with Ursula.  When I interviewed Maurice, I was unaware that he was gay and so did not ask him about it. After I learned that he was, I wrote to ask whether or not I should include this fact in the bio.  On the one hand, I said, it’s not part of the story I’m telling; on the other, I don’t want to contribute to the silencing of a history.  I never heard back from him on this question — which is fine.  He’s been extraordinarily generous to me, and my question was a rather personal one.  So, I didn’t pursue it.

Though the sexuality of Ursula and Maurice does not appear to have a bearing on either person’s relationship with Dave or Ruth, sexuality is a key component of a person’s identity.  Since Maurice and Ursula were important people in the lives of Dave and Ruth, I decided that I should at least mention it once.  So, I did, briefly, in the paragraph where (in the context of discussing the Rowayton community) I talk about Harry and Paul.  It’s a minor change to the manuscript, but a significant one — it corrects an omission that upheld a lie.

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