Well, vacation’s over. That’s the bad news. The good news is: vacation is about to begin! Yes, that time of year for which we all gave up the big bucks has arrived, the summer vacation. Of course, if you have an administrative job or two, as I do, there are always things to take care of over the summer: new faculty to get settled, post-docs to welcome, reports to write, searches to plan for, staff to oversee, budgets to finagle — er, I mean close. But this time of year calls to mind why many of us chose this profession in the first place: intensive reading, whole days to spend writing, imagining the classes we will teach in the fall with perfect students in them who have not yet misunderstood us or done anything weird that takes days to unravel. And did I mention the reading?
I have a few things to do before leaving for the Fourteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, which is meeting in Minneapolis June 12-15, so I plan to get back into the swing of blogging slowly: when I was in France, I wrote in a journal like I used to do before I blogged, and shifting back is peculiarly difficult. But I’d like to take the time to establish a few things that my readers can expect from Tenured Radical in the immediate future.
I will be blogging the Berks, and everything will be crossposted at Cliopatria. However, normal blog rules apply: I won’t write about anything that isn’t already public, and I will assume everything said to me is in confidence unless I am told otherwise. In return, please do not pester me with your desire to be reassured that I am not revealing your secrets. Other than the blogger ethic, you have two assurances that I will not write anything that is overly snide, critical or revealing while blogging the conference. One is my relationship with Ralph Luker, the coordinator and conscience of Cliopatria: every blogger needs an imaginary editor in hir head, and Ralph is mine. The other assurance is that, having finished watching the first season of Gossip Girl on the plane (God I love the video iPod!) I am reminded of that maxim taught so well by example in the Zenith History Department: secrets are more valuable and precious when kept. This allows for the possibility of deploying them at strategic moments – or better yet, creating a lasting, if cynical, bond with another person by continuing to keep them.
Just kidding. You know you love me. xoxo.
I am reading for the American Historical Association’s Beveridge and Dunning Prizes this summer. This is public information, but I thought I should remind my readers of this anyway, because my normal reticence about commenting on what I am reading will increase. Despite the fact that I will be reading dozens of books published in 2007, the widget to the left, “Tenured Radical is Reading,” will only feature books published before or after this seminal year. I am too jet lagged still to know why I think this is ethical, but I do.
This summer I will begin to accept, and answer, questions from the reading public. This is not normally something I do, despite my penchant for giving unasked for advice, in part because Dean Dad does it so well — why compete with a clear leader in the field? But mostly I don’t answer people’s questions because of a peculiar and perverse personality trait I have: if someone asks me to do something specific it becomes a disincentive to do it, and I often don’t. Hence that people have sent me good questions in the past and they have languished in my In Box. Conversely, when someone writes an utterly ridiculous and nasty anonymous comment I growl silently, “Game on, Anonymous 3:11!” and plunge into a pointless quarrel with someone I don’t know. Other than the lack of vacations, this was yet another good reason why I couldn’t become a lawyer: they would be hauling my client off to jail, and I would still be outside arguing with the security guard about my Swiss Army knife and the Second Amendment.
However intelligent people continue to ask me good questions. I have one sitting in my gmail account now that is perfect for next week’s conference. Particularly in a summer where much of my creativity has to go into that boring old publish on paper thing, now is the time to begin taking advantage of other people’s creativity if you ask me. So if you have a question for the blog, send it by email, and I’ll do what I can.
Oh yeah — and as for the commenter who noted acidly that I was going to Paris rather than sub-Saharan Africa on vacation: why would anyone — radical or not — vacation in a war zone rife with starvation, poverty, disease, and violent, free-booting militias who cut off your hands and feet? And what is the Harry Potter thing about? If only I were a wizard — but alas, I am not. That’s the other side of the family — I’m one of the boring Potters.