Weekly Varia no. 9, 01/14/23

The last few days before the start of a semester exist in a strange state of limbo. On the one hand, these are days free from the rat race of the semester. On the other, they are also the last opportunity to prepare syllabuses and other course materials that brim with an exhilarating cocktail of potential and uncertainty.

I am feeling this state more than usual this semester because of how the last semester ended. I have been thinking about my course policies since in the middle of last semester and pecking away at my syllabuses for weeks, but these documents were nowhere near ready for distribution. Then, on Monday, we learned that one of my colleagues won’t be able to teach this semester. This development had little bearing on my classes other than to fill up my last few open seats, but there was also a suggestion that I might be asked to pick up an online US history survey either in the place of or on top of my other courses. More than the challenge of planning and deploying an online asynchronous class in a week, what I struggled with this week was the uncertainty around which courses I needed to be preparing.

My course list did not change, in the end, and I returned to the syllabuses I had at various states of completion. And to the more usual types of uncertainty: whether the course schedule will prove manageable, whether the readings I assigned will elicit the response I’m hoping for, and whether the tweaks to my course policies will work. Adding to this uncertainty is that I have an entirely new slate of courses, which offers both the struggle and the thrill of invention.

I don’t teach until Wednesday, though, so I’m spending this weekend and the first few days of next week putting all my ducks in a row.

This week’s varia:

Album of the week: Garth Brooks, “Ultimate Hits”

Currently Reading: Tochi Onyebuchi, Goliath; Uwe Ellerbrock, The Parthians