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Weekend Reading: Where’s the Hurry Edition

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Now that it’s the middle of July, the universal cry across college campuses has been, “why does the summer go so quickly?” After all, the Premier League’s season is only a month away–and with Liverpool yet to sign a world-class striker!

Wait–that’s not why, well, except for my 11yo. Many faculty are concerned because their summer plans–whether for writing or course planning or recovering–are starting to run out of days. Likewise, the countdown is on for all of the staff plans for getting their part of campus improved, or even just ready again, for the start of the new year. Where does all the time go?

I have no good solution to this problem, other than to say we are all in it together. But having a quiet moment with your calendar and task manager would not go amiss–nor would reading Kate Bowles’s post below!

  • Kate Bowles has a terrific post on the costs of academic overwork: the anxiety machine of the academy isn’t a component, like a bike or even a hamster wheel: it’s the whole system. It’s all of us, helping each other on, on, on. It’s the formal incentives and rewards for overwork that we chase, and it’s all the informal ways in which we perform, celebrate and even lament our own willingness to work to exhaustion—without ever stopping long enough to think about how we could change this, and why we should.
  • Charity Hancock, Clifford Hichar, Carlea Holl-Jensen, Kari Kraus, Cameron Mozafari, and Kathryn Skultin introduce reflective design to bibliography and textual studies: The role of reflective design in this trio is key: it is what helps us discover fault lines in the objects, artifacts, or systems being explored — the location of a teapot’s spout or, say, the stitched binding that turns otherwise loose sheets of paper into books—and in doing so allows us to imagine them otherwise: to see them as alterable rather than immutable; as possibility spaces rather than rigid, inherited structures.
  • Zen Faulkes considers academics as “make-believe rich people”: Likewise, the ability to say what you want is easier if you’re either rich, or working in an institution that embraces academic freedom. Some of the eccentricities that professors are allowed are also reminiscent of what you can get away with if you’re wealthy. Of course, the dark side of this is that both the wealthy and the professoriate have power that they use to abuse others.
  • Gabriel Garciá Márquez and Akira Kurosawa talk about creation, adaptation, nuclear power, films, books, and more”: In fact, upon seeing the films based on their books, some writers say: “That part of my novel is well portrayed.” But they are actually referring to something that was added by the director. I understand what they are saying, because they may see clearly expressed on the screen, by sheer intuition on the part of the director, something they had meant to write but had not been able to.

For summer inspiration, here’s Simon Peyton Jones on “How to Write a Great Research Paper”. The bit that takes this from standard-issue advice about productive writing to magic is the extended worm metaphor, which begins at around 2’20″ (via @rglweiner):

Photo “Hurry” by Flickr user Anne Worner / Creative Commons licensed By-2.0

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