Dark Days

My, it is so dark in the mornings (and so early later in the day) that I’ve resorted to using my SAD eliminating blue light again to try and wake up my poor old pineal gland a bit.  Let’s have a look at the week just past.

  • Inaugural lecture: Thanks to Mrs Llama I wangled an invitation to a professorial inaugural lecture at University of Leicester.  While the topic was spatial and geographic data and hence rife with positivism, I was fascinated to spot the influence of several major schools of philosophy implicit in the presentation – including psychodynamics and Marxism.  I think there was also a touch of Heideggerian dasein in one of the three lessons that Prof Lex was drawing on in his time as a geographer.  Of course he did have to kick the evening off with a big fat picture of Freud (and a number of his noted descendants)…I guess there’s no getting away from the man, he’s everywhere(!). All in all a splendidly interesting hour (if not least, because it told me more about what Mrs Llama does in her day job).  The evening was top and tailed with splendid local Indian snacks and a bit of chat with folks in the dept.  Wish my dept did social things like this; their PhDs seem well and truly embedded in the social-structure; rather than living somewhere on the outside edge.
  • Theory brainstorming: Wrote a theory chapter brainstorm document at the start of the week to support  ongoing discussions with my supervisors.  Was quite a useful way of trying to reassess in my own head quite what I’m using theory for and trying to spell it out in simpler terms.  Well sorta simple, I’m sure orthodoxy, epistemology and hegemonic were still in there!  As of this post waiting to hear anything back of course…
  • Reading:  Ordered a few books, and eyed up some in the library.  Started reading some Gramsci, or at least a book about his thought.  Surprised myself that it seems to slot in very nicely to my intellectual framework so perhaps writing the revised chapter won’t be quite as much of a struggle as I anticipated.  Ha.  No, it probably will won’t it.
  • Chapter: Kept away from it for this week, beyond finishing my comments and notes version and printing out another draft for paper editing.
  • Teaching
    • Intro to Media Coms: Carrying on developing their first assignment practice, we worked on interview technique.  Although I was slightly baffled why one student just left after 10 minutes once we started into the group work. *shrugs*  From my class register he’s not even in my seminar group, but he’s been a few times before.  Ah well.  Did find myself playing the role of interview subject for one of the groups as we were unevenly numbered for the exercises by that point.  I had fun, though I might have played the role of an itinerant 93yo a bit too well.  Had a chat with a few students afterwards who shared with me their planned interview subjects, which was interesting.  Certainly feel it’ll make for an interesting set of coursework to read; although grading it is going to be challenging I suspect.
    • Face to Facebook: last day of term-itus kicked in big style as I had 3 whole students at the start of the hour – one arrived shortly after the start and another halfway, taking the total to a massive 5/26.  Looking at comparative newspaper analysis as cultural objects (e.g. what do the representations and communication of the news in printed forms tell us about the society within which they’re produced).  Can’t say it was the chattiest seminar I’ve done, and I did end up turning it into more of a lecture.  Hell, since the students had bothered to come in, even if they haven’t got a lot to say, felt I wanted them to get something out of it.  Think they did, but you can never tell when groups are quiet if they’re just mentally counting down the minutes to the end of the hour or actually learning something.  Ah well, hopefully numbers and interest will re-surge post Christmas.
  • Conferences: Had a confirmation about next year’s UKSG conference in Glasgow, although I’ve got to write an outline by the middle of next weeks.  Normally not too tricky but trying to coordinate with a colleague across email as we’re joint presenting the same session.  Hopefully post weekend my brain will be in gear after a trip to Wales to write this.  Currently the only event I’m speaking at in 2015 (unless there’s a raft of offers from elsewhere).  Glanced at OR2015, but even if I had a paper in and got a scholarship I’d have to fund the travel myself, which is rather beyond my means right now.  Shame.  As always all offers and suggestions of where I could turn up and speak, always welcomed!
  • Exciting professional development: Got an application form to complete which hopefully is the last formal step before I get to take on something a little bit exciting and grown up.  Or it could all just explode.  Having to write a brief personal statement for the role…is proving harder than I thought.  Normally I can write these without a problem, but struggling slightly to find the right tone and content…as not 100% sure what they want to know.  Hopefully be able to talk about this one in due course…

And finally…produced my Christmas card video for all my friends to whom I’ve stopped sending cards too!  Enjoy…

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