Twice a year we graduate students get giddy. It happens sometime in October and April each year when our teaching assignments are released. The most recent reveal has just occurred and I admit I am a bit distracted from other, more pressing matters by the prospects of my upcoming course. I know we're hardly halfway through this semester—and I'm not at all bored with it—but it's terribly exciting to think about setting up and designing another course. It glimmers like a brand new pair of sneakers when your current kicks are a bit beat up.
In the Spring Semester I'll be teaching "Literacy and American Cultural Diversity" (EngL 3741). It's a radical kind of course that integrates public, community work—usually literacy related—with academic study and discussion. It gives a rare chance for students to deeply consider the origins of their own literacy and the deployment of literacy in myriad contexts.
So while I ought to be preparing for class tomorrow or working on my incompletes, I am browsing articles and books that have been accumulating on my desk for years to find stimulating texts for a class two and a half months away. Teaching semester-long classes is a great vocation for the perpetually restless.
These many months later I have just finished my presentation/paper for the IWCA conference in Minneapolis tomorrow. Given the fact that my incompletes still dangle and my reading list exists only as the flicker of an idea, I begrudge having had to prepare this presentation. I had meant to complete it at the end of August (along with my incompletes), but my life's pattern holds true: I do nothing early.
Nevertheless, it is good to be done. The presentation will be enjoyable. I will feel a certain measure of relief and have the time to really dive in and finish these silly papers. My family asks whether I am done with them (I asked them to do as much to help keep me accountable). I can't believe I am in my fifth year and not yet a candidate. I never thought I would be in this position.
I understand why the national average to complete a PhD in the humanities is pushing ten years. I wish I didn't.