I am going to be teaching a course this fall, new to me, called “Picture and Poetry in Early Modern Culture.” This is an area of long-standing fascination for me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach something very much on the fringes of my area.
One reason I am excited about the opportunity was because this is an area where I feel I can ‘stack’ my activity. For instance: I have never been solely responsible for a whole course before (I currently teach in a team-taught programme), so it is excellent experience in that regard. If I want to apply for sessional positions in future, and indeed for any permanent academic posts, it will be invaluable. It lets me move towards being able to teach Renaissance literature as well as Medieval, which opens up more possibilities. I shall practise teaching more.
Then again, it is an area I have long wanted to learn about in depth. Right now I feel slightly rushed, as I have to get the books ordered by the end of May. Then I plan to work on a couple of other projects, then start in on this properly in June.
There are practical reasons, including the financial (I have plans fornext summer): although then again, as it is an overload course, it will be a lot of extra work, and I am certain I will put in a great deal of time into it this summer. But I don’t mind. I am excited about it — I feel I have the permission to spend weeks and months learning about ballads, and the printing press, and the English poets’ war, and the methods of fresco or the history of oil painting. I don’t really need much of an excuse to read about such things; but this goes into my working time, not my free time.
Then, and this is where I feel it starts to deepen and enrich my summer prospects, I have some ideas for new stories, and this period will furnish material for it. I am nearly done this draft of the current story (nearly, nearly, I hope by the end of June), and while I start the editing process I want to also be turning over in my mind a new story, a new novel idea. I like the idea of an historical fantasy set in the Renaissance (in Italy or England); certainly I already have a few characters from my first story that could come into that.
I have other projects for this summer, an article and an edition to finish in particular, but this is going to be my focus. Art and literary history, research for teaching, research for learning, research for story ideas. The first summer after my thesis is done: how luxurious it seems to have this opportunity.
I suppose only those in university are on summer hours — everyone else is still in spring, with the season — but what are your plans? Spring or summer?