Monday, September 29, 2008

Sample Syllabi: Take One & Two

After developing an initial draft of a sample syllabus for a Restoration and 18th c. Brit. Lit. survey course, I give it to my advisor for feedback.

She laughs. Right in front of me. More than once.

She said she liked it a lot, and most of the texts I selected overlapped with what she usually teaches. It was, however, "ambitious" and she thought I'd kill myself trying to teach it. Apparently, one does not--cannot--teach "The Rape of the Lock" in one class period.

When I asked her what the syllabus "said" about me, she replied, "It says you've never taught this course before." Alrighty then. Glad to know this now.

Two days later, I submit a revised version, with pared down readings and a trajectory that seems to go full-circle from the beginning of the semester to the end. She says it's better, more reasonable in terms of reading load, and she likes the way I've grouped certain authors/texts. Good, right? Yeah, except that she noticed the first half of the semester seems to be chronologically following the writers, whereas in the last half time is "more flexible." Uh, sure it is. I meant to do that.

For example, Haywood comes a week before Johnson and Defoe one week after, but not because I'm suggesting they're contemporaries, but because students will be reading a novel from Haywood and Defoe, and I wanted to give them a bit of a break in between. Not sure yet if this is a good enough reason for separating them or not.

At this point, I realize that I'll have a great syllabus when I'm finished, but I'm also realizing that it's really difficult to decide which ideas, themes, historical moments, etc. are most critical to cover in surveys like this. Right now, my philosophy is It's All Important! Read Everything! Clearly, this will not suffice. So, I continue to work on it and hope my advisor doesn't think I'm a total dumbass!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This is what I have to say in response to having to develop sample syllabi just to even apply for a job! Bleh, bleh, bleh!

On a more serious note, I'm curious to hear a somewhat thorough discussion of what purpose the sample syllabi serve at this point in a job search. Are sample syllabi going to be considered in decisions about first cuts? If not, why don't search committees wait and ask for them once they've made initial cuts?

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Job List: Check One

MLA registration and hotel reservations? Check. Flight to San Francisco purchased? Check. (And I got a great price at $370 for a R/T ticket!)

The two versions - one research, one teaching - of the job letter are officially and completely revised. They have, indeed, been reviewed by everyone except my family members and other graduate students.

The statement of teaching philosophy is done. I got lucky and didn't have too much revision to do there.

The director of the Writing Programs Office is coming to observe my class next week. I've asked her to write my "teaching" recommendation letter, as she's familiar with my syllabus, methods, assignments, etc. I think she'll be able to speak most directly to my reputation as a teacher, though my advisor will probably say good things as well since she and I are team-teaching a class next semester.

The CV is updated and all in pretty font and such.

The list of schools to which I'm applying is decent: a total of 16 so far. My committee members have been given this list, along with the mailing address for the career services liason for our department and a deadline by which they should forward letters of recommendation.

This is all to say that, with the exception of two schools who want a writing sample in the dossier, I'm ready to apply for jobs!

EXCEPT....I was just informed that there's some strange belief that the really early applicants tend to be a little nutso. The idea was that they're the eccentric, desperate type, who've been waiting on the edge of their seats for the job ads to come out so they can forward everything on Day 1.

Isn't that what most people do though? Aren't we all--especially those just starting out--just waiting for the JIL to come out?

Anywho, whatever...I don't want to get tossed in with the crazies. So, I'm holding off just a bit, until mid-October (unless a deadline is earlier). This will give me time to polish the writing sample and return to that last dissertation chapter. My hope is that, should I land an MLA interview, my ability to say I have a finished draft of the dissertation manuscript will do significant work in alleviating any possible concerns about my ABD status. If all goes very well, I should be able to walk into an interview with a scheduled defense date, which, again, I hope will count for something. The surprising thing is that I'm not feeling even a tiny bit crazy about the whole job market thing, and I'm not sure why. I expected to feel stressed, or at least anxious, but nope. At most, I have a hopeful lingering for the job possibilities that exist, but no strong feeling of investment in the time I've put in thus far or expectation for what will result from all this. I guess this is a healthy place to be at this point; we'll see how long it lasts :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Numbers I Like

Such as 85-90% chance that this will be a healthy, normal pregnancy, according to my doctor, as of today!

In the past couple of days, the bleeding virtually disappeared, and today's ultrasound showed a beating heart, fetal growth, and a "blood pocket" that was significantly decreased in size. The doctor felt positive enough about what he saw to give me the green light to return to normal activity and some light aerobic exercise.

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes, good thoughts, and prayers. I believe in the power of all each of them!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm In!

I just got word that my paper proposal was accepted for a panel at Important National Conference in My Field! This was one of the last two things my advisor said "we" needed to do before I finished up, and I worked my arse off polishing the proposal until it was just right. I didn't get in last year, so not only getting accepted, but also being the only graduate student accepted to this panel has given me a little boost of confidence just when I needed it: now. Since the job letter has officially become the bane of my existence, and one of the places I'm applying to is asking for a writing sample and syllabi up-front....blah! I needed this good news :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We Have a Heartbeat!

After two days of bleeding that was heavier than spotting, and despite the doctor's initial exam, which resulted in his warning that "things don't look good," we have a heartbeat (and a fetal pole)!

The doctor admitted that if he'd had to make a guess based on his initial exam (simply looking at things), he would have thought I'd already passed the pregnancy. But, the ultrasound showed a heartbeat, fetal pole, and a placenta that's basically trying to set up shop very near what is considered a "blood pocket" in the uterine wall. While the placenta won't have any problem developing through the vascular area of blood, the hope, of course, is that the placenta will continue to spread until it reaches muscle tissue. The danger is the possibility that the blood may clot and pass, pulling the placenta out along with it and thus separating it from the embryo.

All the blood work he ordered last week looks good, and he said the HcG levels are even higher than he would have anticipated. The orders for now are everything just shy of complete bed rest. No working out or exercising, no long walks, no heavy lifting or other strenuous activity. I'm supposed to do what I "need to do" and rest in bed or on the couch the remainder of the time. Rather than focusing on the inconvenience of these directions, though, I'm being very thankful for what I got to hear today: the sound of my baby's heart beating inside me!

Until we go back next week for another look, we just wait. Not so easy...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Coming this Spring

May 5th to be more precise. Everything is still very early, so I'm reminding myself that nothing is guaranteed at this point. I'm still spotting, though, so they did an ultrasound yesterday and said everything looks as good as it can at this point.

*I realize that this will sound strange considering the fact I've just posted this on a public forum, but this isn't something that I want to be "public knowledge" in my department at this point. So, if you know me IRL, I would be most grateful if you helped me keep it this way for a while.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Keep Giving McCain the Rope, and He'll Do the Rest

Somehow, McCain didn't think to ask Sarah Palin if she was expecting any illegitimate grandchildren anytime soon. I guess this is the sort of the thing one doesn't discuss on the first date with a potential VP candidate. Really, the religious right is gonna love this!