herodotus

baltimoreandme


Thick Description

. . . underdressed and overeducated


26 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
Done with the student's thesis defense. She's more articulate in person than she is on paper - I was not the only one to notice this. Also had coffee with P beforehand, and then we went to find the other person on the committee who is THE MOST AWKWARD person ever. I mean, sometimes, you say things, and he just doesn't respond. I say this as a person who is not herself utterly brilliant at all times as far as social interaction is concerned. But at least when people speak to me I make eye contact and attempt to say something in reply. But Professor Awkward is a good historian and perfectly pleasant when he's talking in some kind of controlled setting, like a seminar, so I probably shouldn't complain about him.

Halfway done with grading. Almost there. People are beginning to leave and the great Dress Down has occurred: not just the students but the faculty are now coming in wearing t-shirts and flip-flops. (Unlike the undergraduates, though, we're not all wearing track shorts. That would be weird.)

25 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
Just read through Thesis Student's submitted senior thesis. It'll do. It has moments of great lucidity and a lot of other moments that are kind of a slog. I'm meeting P early for tea tomorrow morning to talk it over before the student's defense.

I have also been reading papers from this semester's seminar. Grading papers, I should say. So far they are adequate, but I need to work on getting them to build these things out of analysis of primary sources - I've taught this course several times and sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn't. I need to find a way to make it happen more. Possibly if I were teaching it again there would be a sort of phase one of the research paper with no secondary sources: just documents from the time and analysis of those documents. (The trick would be that they wouldn't have any background, though. But it might work nevertheless. They would at least know which bits of background they needed, which is a better way to go at this, I think)
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24 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
I have a pile of papers to grade tomorrow. There are only ten of them (one is late b/c of extenuating circumstances) and it won't be that bad but I really am going to have to steel myself not to put this off. And I have to read a senior thesis tomorrow too - the student's defense (they do defenses for undergraduate theses here!) is Thursday, and P and I who between us form the informed part of the committee are going to put our heads together early on Thursday morning to talk about it before the student gets the largely ceremonial grilling.

Nearly done with syllabi. I had the section on the late 1780s and 1790s all set and then realized that hey, I have not assigned them to read the Constitution. They are going to read the Constitution.

And sometimes I wish that fewer people in the 19th century had been literate. Not because I'd wish illiteracy on anyone, or that I'm anti-progress or anything, but ye gods people wrote lots of stuff in the 1800s. Give me 1500-1750 any day - fewer books by fewer people and you can actually get a handle on things. Also, the 17th century is far more entertaining than the 19th, but everyone knows this already so I don't have to prove it.
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23 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
Colleague P brought a graduate student to see me today. The student is working on something about Lord Baltimore and Newfoundland in the 1620s, which I know a fair amount about - P thought it might be good for him to talk to me. I'm happy to help this student if I can.

And I am embarrassed to admit that I went to Houston this weekend . . .for an opera. Actually, no I'm not embarrassed but it's one of those things I hesitate to bring up in normal conversation for fear people will think I'm weird. But anyone who reads this knows already how weird I am, so I'm safe. Right? (If this means anything to you: Joyce DiDonato!! It was AWESOME. I love live opera so much.)

Progress on the syllabus for the colonial America course continues. I'm almost done with it - just have to write a few lectures now. I am going to get both of these done by the end of April. And I just read through a whole pile of early Connecticut records with my mind wandering only sometimes. Research: sometimes it's a slog.

My syllabus and your syllabus were sitting by the fire . . .
the-deal
baltimoreandme
I have been working on my US history survey. If I want to spend as much time as I'd like on the early republic, I am going to have to compress the civil war and reconstruction into a single week. I will do this cheerfully and without regret.

However, it makes me wonder. I am an early Americanist, and my US history syllabus is a sort of fight against the tendency to telescope everything before 1776 into 'prelude!' and I find the nineteenth century kind of tiresome, if you want to know the truth. I half suspect that historians of the early republic, or historians of 19th-century America, tend to want to spend four weeks on the things they know about and skip, or at least condense, the 1600s. Which means that every US-to-1877 survey syllabus is probably quietly but unmistakably in tension with every other US-to-1877 survey syllabus.
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16 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
I just read the paper for the department seminar this afternoon. Aggghghh. It's one of those papers that tries to be about too many things at once and as a result comes dangerously close to not being about anything at all. There is an argument, but it's tied to this 'history of capitalism' thing which in terms of what the paper is actually saying seems to cause more problems than it solves.

And I have to go to the dinner tonight. Which means I have to go to the post-talk reception and stay through the whole thing. And then the dinner. What a chore.

13 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
Things I have seen in the freezer compartment of the fridge in the faculty lounge: ground coffee (many bags) for the coffee maker. Leftover cookies from receptions, in freezer bags. Lunches/dinners belonging to various people. And . . . a 2 lb bag of green peas from Kroger.

11 April
the-deal
baltimoreandme
I'm still trying to figure out why students have such trouble using databases accessible via the library website rather than googling to find primary sources. I mean, there is a lot of stuff that is accessible via the former and not the latter. We have gone over it in class, and there have been handouts, with instructions and everything. They don't even have to leave their rooms to do this! It's a complete mystery to me.

10 April
herodotus
baltimoreandme
I NEED TO GET THESE SYLLABI FINISHED. It's so easy to put off . . . which is why it should not be put off. Because if you think about it, there is not much time. There is between now and the end of May. From May 29 to June 12 I will (with luck - the Russian consulate in DC has my passport and application, but they haven't sent the passport with my tourist visa in it back to me yet) be in Russia with my BFF from grad school. After that, I have to take a trip for a week to the town where my new job is to find an apartment, and the week after that I have to move. And then there's July, during which my parents have threatened to descend upon me, possibly with my brother and the term starts in August.

So. This needs to get done NOW.
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You have to wonder how this happened . . .
herodotus
baltimoreandme
“The otter you sent per Mr. Cutting was lost overboard, which Mr. Paine doth much bewail having intended it as a present to the king. If your worship could by any means purchase the like again in the country, it would be worth the adventuring once more, if possible it might be preserved to that purpose” (John Tinker to John Winthrop, from London, February 26 1639/40).
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