Taking a momentary pause from the tedious work of proofing page proofs and end notes and bibliography entries to reflect on the immensity of being able to publish work that has been percolating for more than a decade, Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual, 1823–1835 (May 2015, Ohio University Press). — not because I put the project down at any moment, but because it took that long to research, visit archives, ruminate on the material, compare over 300 literary artifacts/books, and then peruse, analyze, and ruminate on all of their contents. Each conference paper, each keynote heard/attended, each presentation given, each SHARP or STS conference afforded a solution to dealing with a particular dilemma in writing about such a mountain of information and material. I’m in the process of creating an analytical index of the monograph now (thanks for the help, Alan Liu!) — an opportunity to revisit the fire in my introduction to prove that these literary annuals, this early 19th-century material, this German-born publisher were integral to the later Romantic and early Victorian literary periods. It may as well be written in ALL CAPS!
But, this work, that moment when the project is about to be liberated from your grasp, is filled with some awe that I get to do what I really love, not just in researching and visiting archives — that I get to teach and share with students and brainstorm with smart people and truly collaborate on really cool projects. That the imposter syndrome suffered by every graduate student eventually goes away long enough to allow for this passion to develop into an expertise about a particular topic that’s of import to literary history, especially when we keep hearing that the Humanities is a dead and useless part of American higher education.
And this is the hat that I get to wear tonight, for the next hour or so. Tomorrow brings several other hats that have also become part of indexing my life’s work:
- prepping a new course on Narrative and Gaming for this semester’s gaggle of English majors — including coming up with cool assignments about gaming that capitalizes on students’ existing knowledge
- working with the university press PR department for publicizing this literary history of the annuals (including some upcoming international talks!)
- putting this semester’s department Curriculum Committee meetings into my calendar
- crafting (and then taking to said Curriculum Committee) my version of a digital studies in literature course for general education students (a la Amanda Gailey!)
- prepping next Monday’s California OER Council‘s agenda, a project that serves students in the CSU, CCC, and UC and involves a truly collaborate effort of 9 faculty representing these institutions and forwards all kinds of open educational resources initiatives
- providing editorial comments on new entries for The Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities project with the Modern Language Association
- collaborating with my co-editors on communications, conference presentations, digital pedagogy histories, and the shape of this digital pedagogy massive project that works towards open access and utilizes open educational resources
- running the open peer reviews of OER textbooks for 45 courses (only 5 courses at a time!) with 3 textbooks for each course, on behalf of the California OER Council
- continuing to document the progress, goals, and history of the CA-OER’s efforts so we can keep track and create institutional memory for a project that has high hopes (and has already succeeded in some ways)
In the last 3 years, after I declared that I would no longer argue about my place in Digital Humanities or Romantic Literary studies or write endless grant applications that didn’t get funded or argue about professional issues, I’ve gotten to work, to really work, to learn the value of collaboration, true collaboration that involves disgreements that result in progress. And I’ve gotten to work with some stellar and generous colleagues who have altered my understanding of academia, including my current department chair. There’s not a single thing in the above list that I could have done by myself — right down to the general editor, copy editor, and book designer at Ohio UP who have helped me turn this life’s work into something digestible and comprehensible.
Maybe it’s the late-night chocolate, but this career. Yeah. It was the right move.