In the way of a more formal introduction than just rambling about elephants, I have a few comments about why I decided to begin this blog now. A number of developments have conspired to make this a time in my life when I think I especially need a space to take stock of things and reflect. Plus, all the procrastinatory time I devote to reading other people’s blogs about history, politics, academic life, has made me itch to join the conversation.
- This summer I taught a course as the sole instructor for the first time, and it was a whirlwind. Obviously I can’t write publicly about the details of this particular class, but the experience made the part of me already interested in pedagogical issues jump into overdrive, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to raise some general questions about teaching here.
- In May, I passed my preliminary exams, which means that this fall I’m not attending classes for the first time since, well, nursery school. Minor identity crisis, meet blog. (See the gospel of xkcd for a related perspective.)
- This year I’m “on fellowship,” that is, not teaching for pennies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the luxury of being able to focus on “my work,” but I’m a little worried about the lack of structure. One possible use of this blog will be to post regular updates about my central research question (this actually sounds really painful right now, but I’m told it will be good for me).
- We always tell students that the best way to get better at writing is to do lots of it. I’m not completely sure a blog counts for improving my dissertation and I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be a new toy for NOT writing said dissertation. Nevertheless, I do find the idea of a “bird by bird,” spiritual element of regular writing practice appealing.
As I mentioned, this blog is partly inspired by a number of marvelous models (many of which I’ve listed to the right on the blog roll, though I’m not sure of the etiquette there…) But while most blogs that I enjoy regularly are pseudonymous and range over a wide set of topics, after a small struggle I decided to go public with my own blog for a number of reasons. And as you might be able to tell from the list of above, the issues that are making my wheels spin these days are pretty self-serving. So if you’ve made it through this post (hi mom and dad!), I have to admit that some of my posts here may be more narcissistic, *ahem* personal. But if it turns out that something I write interests you, that’s great! I welcome comments on individual posts or email to emilyselephant [at] gmail [dot] com.
(For an overdetermined explanation of this blog’s title, see my first post.)