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Category: my academic bla bla

Archive for the ‘my academic bla bla’ Category

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Now I just have to write it …


Monday, May 4th, 2015

DC reporting in, #12: Tools of the Trade – a) Text

tools of the tradeIn this post I want to talk a little bit about my work process, as I think that might be an interesting glimpse “behind the scenes,” so to speak – and because that it also something that I am dealing with and using pretty much every day. I’m not posting about it much here on G&G, but the reality of my time here in DC is that I am spending 8+ hours, 5-6 days a week, at the LoC, working. (Reading, scanning, quoting, … building databases).

The least useful tool I have is one that I bought especially for this project, ironically enough – and not because it isn’t doing what it is supposed to do, but simply because technology has surpassed it: When I was gathering material for my PhD the first ScanPen I owned was sometimes (so it felt) worth its weight in gold – reliable, quicker than typing a quote into the text editor by hand, and far easier on those carpal tunnels as well. I bought it back when I was writing my second Master’s Thesis, IIRC, and so it’s been with me a good long while and still been a trouper and working fine on my old computer back in Flensburg (which used to run XP) … but alas, not under Windows 7 (which my laptop runs on), as the software to support it wasn’t being developed anymore – and the software for the newer ScanPens was not compatible with it. ‘Fair enough,’ I thought, ‘I recon technology has been marching on, and the new ScanPen is probably far advanced from my old one. And this thing has ben super useful … .’

And so I bought my second ScanPen – the current model. Which does its job, indeed, better than the old one … but not as well as an app for my phone that cost me ~10% of what the ScanPen did.

So, instead of scanning text line-by-line with the ScanPen, I am now scanning text pretty much page-by-page with TextGrabber. It’s not as good at recognizing letters and symbols, overall (quotation marks often don’t show up or are wrong, an its line breaks are atrocious), but it is still a faster process to edit what it produces than scanning the text line-by-line and then checking that for mistakes would be.

My process is: scan the text – fix the mistakes – email it to an email address dedicated to this purpose (title of email = “Author – Page”) – open email – c/p into Citavi.

It’s a bit of a roundabout approach, maybe, but it also means that I am building an emergency fallback archive in the form of these emails (which, once dealt with, get sorted into folders named for the Author & Book the text came from) in case I ever lose my Citavi archive and all its backups (I hope not!) – and that I get to look at text a second time and then sort it into categories and assign tags in Citavi*. What I also like is that TextGrabber has the option of keeping the images it scans from (which I am also sorting into dedicated folders), so if I ever need to go back because I maybe did not write down if some misspelling was, indeed, [sic], I can go and check. I try to be very good about doing it the first time round, but backup is backup … . And if there’s one thing I learned from my PhD, then it is that no matter how careful you are, there will be a misspelled word in a quote somewhere eventually – without you knowing if it’s your mistake or not. (Or you might have a long quote that says it’s from “page 15f,” … … … without any note where the page change happened. So if you want to use only one sentence from that quote … yeah. Good luck with that. These days, I Always Put The Page Break In. One learns … from re-ordering 5 interlibrary loans, just for checking those page breaks).


It also means that I can do the scanning with my phone and leave my laptop in my room, and then come back in the evening and sort out my quotes of the day. And (real reason): not drag the laptop to some evening event or other. I do take the laptop with me almost every day anyway, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to do it to be an efficient collector of quotations.

Monday, October 27th, 2014

DC, baby!

So I really should be re-writing and critically assessing my conclusion on this article whose deadline is on Friday, but as I am not fond of writing or embellishing or … conclusions (they are my weakest link, writing wise, and well I know it) I am playing hooky from doing that (though I will do it today, I will I will) for a bit to update my blog here instead. My To-Do list tells me that this is one of (by now 103) things I need to get done within this specific category before February, so I do get to cross something off of my To Do list once I post this. Which is nice. This will not be news for people who have talked to me recently or who read my most recent FB update, but I wanted to put it on my blog and thus in the open-open, as well.

It took me a while to get to this point, but now that things are squared away with work (Thank You, Europa-Uni FL!) and thus official, I can tell you all that I applied for a Kluge Fellowship last year, was awarded said Fellowship earlier this year, and thus will be researching, writing, and working in the Library of Congress in Washington DC for most of next year!

I need to be at the LoC on March 2nd, and I need to be back in Flensburg for the winter term (late Oct/early Nov), which gives me – and you – the cornerstones for my prospective stay in the US. I am REALLY excited, somewhat nervous, and, as I stated above, suddenly in possession of an entirely new To Do List. It’s growing longer rather than shorter at this stage – everything I cross off also usually gives birth to two or three new bullet points that need to be added.

I’ve been to the States, but never been to DC (and I’ve never really *lived* in one place in the States for any length of time – conferences, conventions, and holidays are all different kettle of fish from this), and, you know, should you live there, or know someone who lives there, or used to live there or … I’m totally interested in aquiring local knowledge and getting in touch with local people to hang out/geek out with!

(OK, now back to that conclusion…).

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014


Earthseed DGfA

Two weeks later, the next paper … on Thursday I’ll be off to the DGfA annual meeting in Würzburg. This year’s title is “America After Nature: Democracy, Culture, Environment” and I am giving a paper in a panel on “Black Ecologies.” Skipped French class tonight (pardon, D.!) and finished my Prezi for it – tomorrow there’ll be one more round of print-out-and-read, and then that’ll hopefully be it. Must also remember to print/find a map of Würzburg, so I know were to go!

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014



I’m off to Bochum tomorrow, for the Imagining Earth conference. My bags are packed, my presentation is printed and the Prezi is both on a virtual drive and on a USB stick, and, while I really rue losing the public holiday and the long weekend to work, I’m also looking forward to it! I’ll be back late on Sunday!

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Spaceship Economies

Spaceship Economies

When I bought the desktop some months ago, as a photo-editing machine, I also raised the desk in my office from sitting-at height to standing-in-front-of height, and so far I am really happy with that decision. I also try very hard to keep it as clutter free as possible, so that I can spread out whatever project I am currently working on. My desk at work is full of stacks of paper, and whenever I try to ban them all into their respective folders and files my efficiency goes down, as I then spend too much time tracking them down and need to write myself reminders so I don’t forget about any of them – at home, I seem to be able to think better when everything is filed away in its place. I think it has to do with the fact that a TON of things are always going on in parallel at work, and that most of the things there are far smaller in duration than the things I tackle at home. I spent most of today, for example, working on my paper for the conference I am going to next weekend – something I could try to do at work, but would have a hard time getting done there, as too many tiny yet more urgent things always pop up and distract me. Which is also the reason why I am making it a point to (usually … well, sometimes) not read my work email on the weekend. Not because I am not working on the weekend, but because I need to think the longer thoughts, then.

My long thought having been thought for the time being, I shall now go and finish reading one of the BA-theses that I am first grader on. It is May, so their slow trickle has become a bit of a flood, and I don’t want to get behind. I also pondered going for a walk, as it is quite nice out and I only walked to the polling station today and back, but I want to watch the election forecasts at 6pm, so I think I’ll skip the walk today.

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

In the Ruins of Civilizations

In the Ruins of Civilizations

So, I have been – rather insistently and in fact, quite rightfully so – informed that I have yet to published more than a blurry photo of a box of books containing copies of In the Ruins of Civilizations (and which was only on twitter). This lack of a post is not due to the fact that I don’t want to write anything about my book, but rather that I always had this vague plan of making a really concise and yet well-written, shiny and comprehensive blog post about it, eclipsing all my other blog posts. Which, yeah … good luck with that. All my precision and conciseness and tweaking of sentences and passages and words and structures and … stuff … seems to go into my academic writing, and when I post to my blog I just … I don’t know … post to my blog? In a more meandering and rambly and slice-of-life kind of way?

(And so much for conciseness, I hear you mumble…).

But, yes, there’s this book. Which is also my PhD. That I wrote. And defended. And that then got published. And came out back in March. And which you most likely missed out on, newswise, as, like I said, all I did was tweet a photo of a box of books, as term had just started and things were reeeally busy and I wanted to make a powerfully eloquent entry.

This is what the back cover has to say about it:

Post-apocalyptic novels tell stories set after a global catastrophe has led to the ‘end of the world’. But only in the rarest of cases does the ‘end of the world’ actually mean the end of the planet (or even of the human race), and it is on what remains after the end of the world that this book focuses on. What is left of the world from ‘before’? How are these remnants depicted and how do survivors interact with them? What influence does the state of the physical world have on these interactions? How are these processes narrated, and on which narrative level?

To answer these questions, In the Ruins of Civilizations concisely covers the history and appeal of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tales and then focuses on four post-apocalyptic novels published in the 21st century – Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Bernard Beckett’s Genesis, and Robert C. Wilson’s Julian Comstock – a story of 22nd Century America. Its theoretical approach is based on the work of ruin theorists, analyses of the depiction of non-functional objects in literature, ecocriticism, socio-geographical readings of landscapes and wildernesses, as well as on theories of narrative levels, narrative communication and space in narrative. It shows that the interplay between narrative structures, world constructions, corporeal objects and physical realities forms the fundamental embodying locus of post-apocalyptic novels.

It was published by the Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, and if you really want one, you can get a copy there. (I mean, that is, I’d be delighted if you wanted one, but it *is* more a book for the McCarthian scholar and ecocritics and P-A geeks and people interested in ruin theories than for, I don’t know, the fluffy chillaxing afternoon escapist reader).

And that is that – I don’t usually post about my academic writing/life on here much, but here you go.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

What, a post without a photo?

Indeedy! Since all I’ve been doing for weeks’n’weeks is post photos without much text at all, I thought I’d post a brief chatty post to let you all know what is going on in my life. Not that there are a lot of (objectively) exciting things going on, but … subjectively, there totally are. I will, for example, get to treach Eliot’s The Waste Land tomorrow in my poetry class, which has me tons excited and a little intimidated, because it’s a bit of a tall order and I want folks to find it exciting and fascinating and not just to sit there and go ‘whatever the what of the what now?!?’ … .

Tuesdays, in general, are always ‘let’s do the mental two-step’ days for me, as they include both my MEd literature and my Master KSM business studies class, and switching from Customer Relationship Management and pricing politics to talking about American Literature in under 30 minutes is always a bit of a hop. A hop I quite enjoy, but you’ve got to mentally shake out the drapes between one class and the other.

Tonight, not terribly excitingly, is all about washing and packing (I am off to the DGfA Conference straight after work on Thursday, and tomorrow is going to be a loooong day [classes 8-11.45am, then Promotionsausschuss from noon-2pm and the University Senate meeting from 2-6pm]) and tidying up (the next weekend that I am in FL I so need to clean the windows – they’re coated in flower pollen right now, from all the spring weather that we’ve been having).

So, as you can see, things are … things! :-)

And, yes, eventually I will make a post about that there book whot got published, but that’s going to take more time than I have right now, as it needs a proper write up and all … .

So I shall hop-skip off (to the washing machine!) and leave you with a question:
Is April indeed the cruelest month?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Under my umbrella

It’s raining in Flensburg. Today I got to talk about Shakespeare (a lot) and sonnets and Edna St. Vincent Millay and e. e. cummings and WCW and Ezra Pound and imagism and tropes and poetry and its theory and metaphors and metonymies and litotes and oxymora and hyperboles and similes (&c) and Jeff Noon and Cavalier & Clay and golems and Beloved and The Echo Maker and things the thunder said (DA) and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and the next term and The Color Purple and Oscar Wilde and The Reivers and reading lists and lots of other things that all slot into this somehow or are connected to it or simply came up in the course of two classes, a project meeting, office hours and general academic do-daahing. And I totally took my Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland lesson outline to my A Midsummer Night’s Dream session, but it was ok because I’d brought that outline, too (and my office is only about 50m from that particular classroom, anyway…). Alice has to wait until Thursday, though.

And then I went home and made some dinner and now I feel like I maybe just ought to go sleep, even though it isn’t 9pm yet, because it was a long day and the next two will be the same and tomorrow morning is all Hays Code and Modern Times and go go go.

Or I might watch that thing on ARTE about the US elections. Hmm. (I’ve also been explaining the Electoral College from time to time, these last weeks, but that’s kind of par for the course :-)).

And PS – ooops, sorry: WCW = William Carlos Williams.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

The things to come

Our winter term will be beginning a week from now, and so these days are all about giving my classes the final polish and think-through (or as much as one can do that before classes actually start, as some things come up and adjustments are often sensible things to make), to re-read the plays, poems and novels I’ll be covering one more time (the final read-through happens just before the class session that they actually come up in), and, you know, just doing stuff.

One of the classes I will be teaching is called by the lofty name “600 years of British Comedies” and where would such a class start but with the master himself?

So I spent parts of my workday today working my way through A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adding dozens of little post-its and working out lesson plans.

And, man, I’ve been missing Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I love American Studies, but I am also really looking forward to my foray into British Literature. (And I think we’re generally dividing things from each other too much – we talk about globalization and internationalization on the one hand, but then often stick to national literary traditions and canons when teaching, or set up special ‘transnational’ classes – which is sometimes a bit bizarre, considering that ideas, thoughts, people and works of fiction crossed oceans and borders then as well as now.) Sometimes it makes more sense than others, and sometimes and for certain classes it does indeed make sense, but when you studied literatures from multiple points and places of origin being limited to in-depth working on just one is a bit unneccessarily constraining (specialization is all well and good, but not to the point of wearing blinders, eh?). So, you know, yay for smaller universities and colleagues and bosses that trust you when you say “with enough prep time, I can totally cover the missing ‘Brit Lit’ slot” (pretty please?).  (I think a major reason for the strict division is the prep-time-optimization-thing more often than not, really. [I’ve been reading a LOT of British Comedies from the last 500+ years this summer. And secondary literature. And history. It’s become a bit of a … thing.]).

My other classes are “An Introduction to American Literature” (I love being a ‘first contact’ person), “American Film Classics of the 30s & 40s” (Screwball! Noir! Western! Casablanca! Mr Smith in Washington! Rosebud! // Mise-en-scene! Angles! Genre! Hays Code! Joseph Breen! [And a class where the division makes sense] [Also: Popcorn!]) and “Children’s and Young Adult Fiction” (tailored to the state curricula, but other than that, totally international) and two projects (literature & tbd by the KSM students).

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

The roads of summer’s ending

I haven’t been posting very much – besides photos I took over the course of the last couple of months and that were stored precisely for times of a dearth of new input, and that one can set to auto-post at certain times – because I’ve been spending the last weeks in libraries mostly, and most of what I’ve been looking at are books and computer screens (either online journals [libraries with access to the MLA or JSTOR or EBSCO or even LEXIS-NEXIS Academic, how do I love thee, let me count the ways … it must be so convenient to be able to simply log into these resources whenever one wants to, I cannot imagine… *sigh*] or my own comptuer keeping a log of what I have read and browsed [dear humanities friends, we really ought to start putting abstracts in front of every article we write, yes?]).

But today was a) Saturday, b) sunny and c) I really needed some fresh air in my face and brain, and so I took some hours off from the research-and-thinking grind (am right back on it now) and so here are some photos from today’s excursion. I think this is it for exciting side-trips – I’ve got to be back in Flensburg by the start of October and there’s so much research and thinking still to be done that I don’t think I’ll get it all done, no matter how hard I try (argh) (thinking takes time). I really really need to figure out a way to access academic journals etc from Flensburg, otherwise I think my career is that much closer to being doomed, simply because not having any/needing to travel places to get it makes the playing field that much more unequal, without anyone taking that factor into account (my collection of library membership cards, let me show you it). And its really frustrating, to boot*. (No, we really don’t have any. Trufax.) (There’s got to be a way, right? [Cue academic despair, since it isn’t like I haven’t been trying to find one for the last five years. Unsuccessfully.]) (Yes yes, whine whine on the highest levels, I know. Still: research, kind of essential for my job.) GRAH.

But ANYWAY, no posting about academic despair, posting of nice forest scenery! Here, have another one:

*Don’t get me wrong – its not as if we in FL don’t know the problem exists, or that it is a problem – there simply isn’t enough money to buy access to these databases … and I am really grateful that I DID get to go away for a month and do research, and our library really does all it can.
It’s just … other people have these things at their fingetips *all the time …* – and explaining why you are in someone’s library and would like a library card and that yes, it really is kind of necessary for your work … gets a bit tedious. Also the pitying/condescending air some people get. “We do good work up in the North,” you want to exclaim emphatically, “and that we kind of do it with our hands tied behind our back makes it not worth any less!” (It’s, well, like having a INT -2 stat caused by some artificial obstruction to make up for – it’s not a natural -2 on your stat. So don’t treat it like that, more priviledged library dudes! [Not that one should if it actually were.])

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

American Short Fiction Reading List

Since someone asked in a comment, here’s what was on the reading list for my “American Short Fiction” syllabus for the summer term (sans theoretical texts except for Poe) – I left off the “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and chose one of Poe’s ‘tales of ratiocination’ instead of a ‘tale of effect’ as most students had already encountered OCB and a ‘tale of effect’ in their “Introduction to Literature”.

Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour” (1894)
Robert Coover, “A Sudden Story” (1986)
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Purloined Letter” (1844)
–. “The Philosophy of Composition” (1846)
–. “Review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales” (1842)
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)
Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants” (1927)
Ernest Hemingway, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” (1933)
William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily” (1930)
John Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums” (1938)
Raymond Carver, “A Small, Good Thing” (1983)
John Cheever, “The World of Apples” (1973)
Joyce Carol Oates, “Where are you going, where have you been?” (1966)

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Annabel Lee

Tomorrow is session two on the works of Edgar Allan Poe in one of my classes and we’ll be discussing Poe’s “Review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales” as well as his “Philosophy of Composition”. For transfer work, we’ll be applying things learned from these two theoretical works to both the short story we read and discussed last week, and to (and this is where the title of this post comes in) his poem “Annabel Lee”. Which is – in my opinion – fantastically well composed, and I love the sheer rhythm and soundscape of it … which also means that, once you’ve got it in your brain, it kind of stays there. So I thought I’d share. Three anapaests and then a iamb make for a beautiful rhythm that grabs you right there in the first line, don’t you think?

Annabel Lee
Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love–
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me–
Yes!–that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we–
Of many far wiser than we–
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling–my darling–my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

–> Dramatic Rendition.

Bonus random fact:
Nabokov’s original title for Lolita was The Kingdom by the Sea, and Humbert Humbert’s childhood sweetheart’s name is? Annabel Leigh. How about that.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

A moment of truth

picture of a letter, half opened

DFDF this weekend was awesome, and I got a lovely lovely bag from one of my Time for Talking students as a farewell gift tonight (photo to follow) (DFDF thinky thoughts and images to follow, too), but for now here’s a photo of a letter that was waiting for me when I got back from Bad Salzdetfurth. It’s from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), telling me that my application for funding for my trip to the ASLE conference in Bloomington was accepted. YAY!

I love the DAAD,  both (rather pragmatically) because they sent me abroad in 2001/02 when I was still a young and inexperienced student (I learned and changed so much during that year, and got to know people that I got to meet again just this weekend), but also because I really believe in the goals they want to accomplish (international student and academic exchange is a good thing!).*

And now they’re helping fund my conference trip to the US!
YAY for travel grants! Thank you, DAAD!

*that’s why I’m an active member of their Alumni network – and meeting the students the DAAD sends to Flensburg is always interesting and enriching, so its not exactly a hardship to be an active DAAD Alumni :-).