"I am a Minnesotan by birth and a traveler in wild places by vocation and compulsion." -Paul Gruchow

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I'm going to stretch the definitions of place and space in this particular post, because I need to put this in writing and it only has very little to do with teaching and place. But it does fit. Sort of. There's a bit of New Year's resolution in here, but not really.

1 January 2012 marks the beginning of my eight months of comps, which, at UNL, means that I've already submitted my reading lists for approval to the graduate committee, they've been approved, and I've got the go-ahead to go ahead. Because I want to finish both my Field and Focus portfolios by the start of fall semester, my plan is to do my Field in the spring and Focus over the summer. Each list consists of 30-40 books selected around a theme of sorts. The Field is designed to be the larger of the two, in terms of scope: mine is "20-21st c. American Nonfiction" and my goal is to write my paper on the Contemporary Essay. My Field list is "Contemporary Irish Prose: 1966-present" and I want to write on contemporary environmental prose, particularly in the West of Ireland.

In addition to these 20+ page scholarly papers, our portfolios will include an annotated bibliography of our reading lists, a syllabi based on the list, a statement of teaching goals, and such. I'm pretty excited about the whole thing, because this is a subject I'm in love with, books I want to read, and I have plenty of tea in my cabinet to get me through. I'm eternally grateful that the shift from creative writing to scholarly writing isn't a hard one for me (though I think that scholarly writing is equally as creative as "creative" writing).

So, this morning, while the bright New Year's sunshine fills my south-facing bedroom (the only windows in my apartment), while Galway sleeps on the radiator, sandwiched between the warmth of the pipes and the warmth of the sun, while Maeve sleeps on the fleece on the couch, I've got a pot of Almond Biscotti/Madagascar Vanilla tea in my favorite pink pottery pot that I bought for my birthday a few years ago and it's wonderful. The lights on my small Christmas tree are bright and comforting. Cinnamon candles warming the air. Dinty Moore's Between Panic and Desire on my coffee table, with a pencil.

I'm basking in the glow of great books to come, great classes to come, new friends, old friends, new students, new ideas, new experiences, and the general wonder of a brand new year. This year is going to bring a lot of exciting things and I'm ready for the challenge.

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