Into 2015

Well I managed to work another couple of days before the Christmas break but nothing too eventful occurred.  Then a nice break, only slight marred by coming down with a fluey cold that lasted pretty much the entire time (still got the remains of it).  Smashing, not quite the relaxing break I’d hoped for.  Still new year here we are and on with some more work.

  • A Long Expected Reading
    • A variety of reading this week, somewhat interrupted by my unexpected Tuesday outing.  All the same read a book on hegemony (Bocock, R., 1986. Hegemony) and another rather splendid one on the impact of digital disruption (Weller, M. 2011. The Digital Scholar) on academia.  Both were quite useful, with the latter being a lot more readable and digestible; which after all the Marxism and Foucault of late was a blessed relief!  Weller’s book also had one of my favourite phrases I’ve read of late – the creepy tree house syndrome – a phrase the author uses to describe the unwanted/undesirable invasion of academia into students’ social media spaces.  Conjurers up a beautifully disturbing (and accurate) image in my mind, and I’m in total agreement with it.
    • I also dipped my toe into the waters of a book entitled Structure and Agency in the Neoliberal University (Canaan & Shumar, 2008))- but as this isn’t 100% important to my theory chapter, I’ve pushed it to one side until I finish this chapter off.
  • The Two Seminars
    • Media Communications: Tutorial
      • Bit of a damp squib this week as it’s a 1-2-1 tutorial slot to help the students on their first bit of coursework, and despite advertising this fairly heavily no one showed up.  Spent the time reading a book and looking up hopefully for customers every few minutes.  Answered a few online queries for my students on their profile article but that was about it.  I do hope that means they’re all going great guns on it…but I could be mistaken.  Next week’s seminar is given over to tutorial time too, so here’s hoping a few of them need help!
    • Face to Face to Facebook: Public sphere
      • Pretty poor turnout post Christmas still (6/24) which is a bit depressing.  We’re on the history of the press/contribution of the free press to liberal democracy.  In a week when the events in France around Charlie Hebdo have highlighted the importance and value of free speech in an democratic world, I’d have hoped more students would have come along to discuss it.  Did get a bit of discussion going around the issues of the public sphere, Habermas and censorship…but could I get the students to work as a group?  Hopefully as we move into broadcast media for the next few weeks there’ll be a resurgence in attendance.  Honestly, I remain shocked by the poor level of attendance at seminars; as a UG myself we missed them at our peril, as they usually made far more sense than the lectures (and that’s always been my aim – to contextualise and demystify the lectures each week).  Either I have some brilliant students who will ace their coursework without me…or old faily will be coming out again when the time comes to grade their work.
  • The Breaking of the Data
    • After my tutorial slot I met up with Sharon, one of the research librarians at NTU, to talk about research data management.  This was fun, and I confess we did have a bit of gossip about other professional matters too.  However, I was mostly there to be a tame academic to talk about what kind of data I collect, how I curate/protect it, ethical issues around depositing it in any way (of which there are quite a few) and mechanical issues.  Was a mite longer than I expected to be chatting, but all the same one of the most positive experiences of the week.
  • The Road to Glyndwr
    • I can now exclusively reveal I’ve been appointed as an external examiner on a couple of degree courses.  Many months since I was first approached, but all the paperwork’s finally gone through!  I am deeply honoured and chuffed at the same time (while lightly apprehensive of what I’ve let myself in for!).  Looking forward to being involved though all the same.
  • An Unexpected Journey
    • Sadly not to Hobbiton, but rather the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) with Mrs Llama.  She’d managed to bang her head (twice) on our chicken run over Christmas, and despite visiting our local surgery for advice was still feeling rather concussed and worried that she’d damaged herself more than first realised (as is often the case with cranial injuries).  So after another visit to the doctors she was sent to A&E in Leicester during what can only be described as the day of near collapse of the whole accident & emergency system across the UK.  The care she got from the doctors and nurses was first rate, sadly the waiting times and conditions were pretty awful.  While she waited, I made myself scarce and plonked myself in the Percy Gee (Leicester University’s student union) to work for the day; discovering along the way that their signage is awful and their toilets hidden away from any casual visitor*.  A long, cold but relatively productive day was had while I killed the 5hrs the Wife was in hospital.  Didn’t see anyone I knew, despite mentioning I was there a few times on social media.  Mrs Llama for the record is okay it seems, but still only recovering slowly.  We’ve bought her a new hard hat for the garden to avoid any recurrence of her injury.
  • An Unexpected Cancellation
    • I was rather looking forward to hearing my Director of Studies speak at a research seminar on Wednesday about the Crisis of Labour in Capitalism and the Commons (right up my street!), but it was cancelled on the day.  Boo, my dept doesn’t do enough of these sort of things, as I’d love to hear from all the staff about their research on a regular basis, so this was a real shame.  Hopefully they’ll reschedule it soon!

*Honestly…I never found them despite searching across 4 floors!  Ended up visiting a neighbouring building instead to relieve myself.

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