Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hard at Work

Reading When Harlem Was in Vogue: done
Starting The Warmth of Other Suns: done (this might take me a while since it's over 500 pages long)
Revising proposal: done
Next step: revise Chapter 1 for fellowships. Scary...

Will keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Still reading: When Harlem Was in Vogue

Okay, chapter 2, "City of Refuge," is done. So now I have to assess whether there is more I need to read here or if I can move onto Wilkerson. I'm enjoying this read, since it offers me a different perspective on the Harlem Renaissance, but I also have to make the most of my time right now. I also have to work on my proposal, so I may focus on that on Thursday, and fit in a chapter of either Levering Lewis or Wilkerson. Little by little...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reading: David Levering Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue

It's surprising what reading a good book will do. I am still working on revamping my proposal, but I also am reading When Harlem Was in Vogue. So far I've read the two prefaces and Chap. 1. I am not sure yet if I'm gonna read the whole thing, or only the relevant chapters to my dissertation, but I am enjoying the read nonetheless. Tomorrow I have to get back to grading and working on my proposal, but I'm going to try to get some reading done. Nowadays I can only get a little done per day, and this takes some adjusting, but I'm slowly getting work done.

Earlier this week I ordered Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns, which was published earlier this year. I am super excited about this one, and almost dropped grading in favor of a quiet afternoon of reading at school...but then I figured the grading had to get done at some point, hehe. I plan on starting that one after I'm done with Levering.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gotta do something!

First off: Susan, this is great news! I'm glad you'll have less sections next year. That will make so much of a difference! And if they're all the same class, even better: just one class prep! :)

Second: I am about to run off to the living room and watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with Mr. F, but I want to make sure I log in my work for today. Today I had hoped to invest time in my proposal and in reading, but it just didn't happen. As a result, I was finishing up with grades at 8:30 pm, and feeding Miss E. right after that. I hadn't gotten any reading done and was about to call it quits, but then I thought: I gotta do something. So I read the first few pages of David Levering Lewis's When Harlem Was in Vogue. I already have some ideas stewing and scribbled them on some post-its for tomorrow. Hey, something's something, right?

Good news!

Good news A) curling up again with Barry Lyndon B) sounds like I might get 3 sections instead of 5 come spring, just need to sort out what additional duties I'd take on in addition... Missing Liana, need my carol buddy!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The latest

So I am not done with Langston Hughes (and I have a new stack of papers to grade), but I decided to multitask and start working on my application. Working on my application counts as dissertation work, since I have to revamp the dissertation proposal and the VERY rough draft I have right now, so I'm not necessarily off least that's what I tell myself. On the other hand, I am coming to terms with the fact that I probably won't stop grading until around Thanksgiving; my solution is to spread it out over several days to avoid the marathon sessions over two, three days. Those sessions just put me in an awful mood and I can't get any dissertation stuff done, so now I'm trying to manage my time better in order to make progress. Baby steps, I tell myself.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Trying to keep eyes open through more of Barry Lyndon.  Recently figured out I'm working 53 hrs per week lately; wish I was one of those Superwomen who are brilliant 80+ hrs a week and could juggle these two roles with ease! Sadly my brain is being non-compliant.  Have a mtg with the administration tomorrow to request less sections for the spring... we'll see.... fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Goal for today

If I don't post it, I will continue to put it off: I will read up to to half of The Big Sea today. I'm on page 46, and I need to get to at least 167. So there. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reading and grading

Although I love teaching, when you have to grade that just throws off your whole schedule. Susan can attest to that. I did not finish grading last weekend, as I planned, so it spilled over to the week and I finished it Wednesday morning. Friday I got another stack of papers; those I'm hoping to do in spurts so I can get some reading done!

I am still working on reading Langston Hughes's autobiography The Big Sea in preparation for revising chapter 1. Even though I try to do my dissertation work on Tuesdays and Thursdays and class prep on weekends, I have to get the reading done over the next few days if I plan on getting back to work on that chapter for November. I feel a little weird about going back and reading what I wrote in February, but I have to. Gotta start somewhere, right? So I plan on finishing my read this week, and next weekend start with revision.

Susan, I hope you were able to finish up all your grading!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Still here!

Struggling through last dozen composition papers and a set of World Lit quizzes... reading Irish Sketchbook a bit at night... at least I'll be caught up and my weekend can be dedicated to work! A colleague reminds me that this is always the hardest part of the semester, here's to hoping!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Want everyone, especially Liana, to know I haven't lost sight of the goal; wading through 60+ composition papers this weekend, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moving on up!

Susan, you have been working so hard the past week; I am so proud of you! How did you get through three books in an afternoon??? But seriously, keep up the good work; even though I don't post everyday, I read your posts and keep up with your activity.

I like what you've been doing: re-reading the fiction and re-visiting your notes. I hope to get to work on that soon. My task is to finish Langston Hughes's autobiography after I'm done with grading this week (seriously, I won't let it go past Sunday!). I started reading it while I was working on the rough draft of Chapter 1, but I didn't finish it before I gave birth. It's been on the back burner ever since the spring semester ended. I'll have to put down Franzen's Freedom so I can finish this in record time.

The Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship's deadline is November 10th, and I want to apply, so I'm going to use that to motivate me to complete the draft of Chapter 1. Last time I applied I didn't get anywhere, but I'd like to think this time I have a better idea of my project and where it's going. Let's see how it goes!

Read: James N. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora (Part 2)

So I finally finished Gregory's essay on Tuesday. I'm amazed at how long it took me, considering that it was interesting, engaging, and accessible. It was certainly a time management issue, especially because at night I don't have the energy to keep on reading and working after Baby is asleep. Time management is something I need to work on, but at least I am doing something--that's what I tell myself!

Gregory's article pointed me toward several new authors and texts I need to check out, so it has turned out to be very useful. But more so than that, i see Gregory's contribution to my work as such: he complicates the concept of "black metropolises" to include a more optimistic, dynamic view of urban space. Whereas Richard Wright, just to give you an example, portrays Chicago as a dismal, hopeless place, Gregory invites us to see how these black metropolises were the location of change and growth for black communities (in the North as well as the South). He also connects northern and southern cities by showing how the social and cultural changes in the North affected (and in turn were affected by) southern cities.

All in all, Gregory gets an A in my book. I need to read his intro and Chapter 1 to learn more about his use of the term "diaspora," especially since he's the first person I've heard refer to black migration to northern cities as "diaspora" (this term is often used to describe the migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S., which leads me to think there's something going on here.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Productivity & Nietzsche!

Was shocked and elated with how well Nietzsche went over in class today! We briefly touched on Formalists vs. New Historicists, which also was well-received! Yay!

It's 3:30, so far I've read through all my notes for my first field exam and highlighted the gems.  Also, just finished typing up key passages from McCauliffe and Great Hoggarty Diamond.  I find that when I sit down to write, having approximately 10-30 passages per works serves as A) a great refresher of its key points and B) a great way to simply cut and paste that brilliant passage you want to use!

Tonight I'll keep reading through the ancient library copy of The Irish Sketchbook until my new one arrives.  Also ordered a more recent edition of Barry Lyndon that's not falling apart.  Rereading these works has been immensely helpful! At first I thought it was a time waster, but rereading them in tandem with the criticism has been magical! Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stolen Day

Work stole the day today, particularly grading nearly 100 quizzes and tackling how I'm going to properly introduce Dostoevsky and Neitzsche in class this week... Reread the intro the Barry Lyndon, eagerly awaiting new copy of Irish Sketchbook in the mail! Miss you Lee, how are things on your side?? xoxox

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reading at the Gardens

Drug Craig to Chanticleer Gardens today.  It's free for us with our Radnor Library cards!

 So we copped a spot under some lovely pines, overlooking the main garden, and I read:

What the Best Teachers Do (a book assigned by work) and finished (well, got what I could out of!) the article:

Kenneth L. Brewer's "Colonial Discourse and William Makepeace Thackeray's Irish Sketchbook."

Like McAuliffe, he recognizes the danger of simply reading it "Thackeray's a crazy bigot," but instead of focusing in on the narrator, he takes a more postcolonial approach (sprinkling Said and Bhaba throughout), nothing how  we "must look at how stereotype functions in colonial discourse, following a method which is not evaluative but descriptive" (264), asserting that we can learn just as much from British perceptions as we can from his interpretations and commentary on the Irish.  Furthermore, he notes that both Thackeray's personal letters and the Sketchbook note that three months of travel cannot provide one with a full understanding of a culture.

Also finished his novella, The Great Hoggarty Diamond.  Never realized the narrator is Samuel Titmarsh, supposedly his typical pseudonym's, Michelangelo Titmarsh's, cousin!  Also, Mr. Dueceace pops up, as he does in most novels.  I realize such reappearances of minor characters adds to Thackeray's panoramic fictional world. 

Left Barry Lyndon a work and had to order a THIRD copy of the Sketchbook as my wonderfully marked up copy, published around 1900 is falling apart and I left my newer copy at the uninhabited family cottage. Grrr.... Looks like another article for tonight...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

McAuliffe's "Taking the Sting out of the Irish Sketchbook"

McAuliffe, John.  "Taking the Sting out of the Traveller's Tale: Thackeray's Irish Sketchbook." Irish Studies Review. Vol. 9, No. 1, 2001.

I just reread (after a year or so) McAuliffe's "Sting" and find it just as astute.  Critics continually damn Thackeray and the Sketchbook as a colonialist text, racially profiling both nineteenth century Irish and Catholics.  But as McAuliffe points out, it was written under Thackeray's pseudonym, "Michelangelo Titmarsh," and the book mocks its tenderfoot, gourmand Cockney narrator as much as any Irish character, and we must remember we're seeing Ireland through the narrator's eyes.  Everyone is so quick to assume the speaker is Thackeray as the book is typically cataloged under travel writing, but it's as satirical as most of his other fictions.

Trying to feed on Liana's optimism! I'm on Chapter One and the task seems monumental, especially with 50hour work weeks; but if she can be a mommy, teach, and do this, I'll keep it up on my end. Miss you girlfriend!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Read: James N. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora (Part 1)

Gregory, James N. "The Black Metropolis." The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America. Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina P, 2005.

This is the first piece I have read for my dissertation since before I gave birth. Boy, it's been a while! But I'm glad I started out with this one, because it made me feel good about my project again. It has helped me remember some things and think through some others. I'm only halfway through it, but right now I feel it's more of a historical/sociological resource. He is asking readers to reconsider the term "black metropolis" (coined pre-World War II) by steering it away from its negative connotations toward more positive, productive connotations.

So that's what I have until now. I hope to finish reading it tomorrow; I will keep you posted on my progress!