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December To-Do List

One of the reasons that academics have trouble managing the balance between teaching and research is that the two follow different timelines. In teaching, so much has to be done immediately -- prep, grading, meetings with students, exam submission -- while research tends to need concentrated stretches of time without interruption. It's as if teaching is diurnal, if that's the word I'm looking for Jeeves, working with a day-night-day schedule, while research is seasonal. Sometimes we secure a day a week to work on research during a teaching term, but that's not always possible, and certainly hasn't been for me this term.

In December I have a lot of grading to do, which is fine, and some prep to do for next term's courses. I also am the author of one of the Professional Development courses for co-op students, and it needs some revision before the beginning of next term. But here's what's on the research schedule, such as it is: 

  • Make revisions to a paper about early modern natural history illustrations and their afterlives in science and popular culture, which is to be published in a collection edited by Michael Hunter. Prof. Hunter is a super-bright, totally engaged, incredibly productive scholar -- his first life's work has been the work of the Royal Society, his second life's work is Robert Boyle, and his third life's work is the British Printed Images project. He convened a conference a year and a half ago at Birkbeck College in London, at which I gave a paper. The essays from that conference, and another held this past September, are to be published in the spring. He's asked me to make a few small changes to my ms for that project, so I'll do that. That won't take too long.
  • Work for a week at the Folger in Washington. I scheduled this trip a while back. I would like to work on the chapter of my book that's about tree diagrams and genealogies. I should look in the manuscript collection to see if there are examples of illustrated genealogies of Christ; I know these exist, but I haven't seen any in their original forms. I haven't used manuscripts at the Folger before, so I will enjoy figuring out how that process works; cataloguing for manuscripts is a complicated business. The Folger is a really nice space to work in, and I'll probably do the revisions for the paper noted above there. It also has a super collection of secondary materials, so I could do some reading on topics related to tree diagrams and so on; the chapter is about Milton, and if you can say anything about Milton, you can say that alot has been said about Milton, so that's a lot of homework. I won't get it all done, of course, but it's good to get something accomplished -- it's material, of course, but it's also inspiring.

I think that's about all I'll get done. I'm teaching two larger undergraduate classes next term, one of which I haven't taught before, so I need to plan them out and get ready for a big term.