[UPDATE: Thanks to all who have commented, emailed and posted to congratulate me. Your kindness means a lot. I've been buried under grading, or I would have responded personally (which I'll still try to do)]
I've been sitting on some news that I had to keep quiet about until it was officially announced:
Last week I was awarded Wheaton's William and Elsie Prentice Professorship. The Prentice is one of the only chairs Wheaton has for which Associate Professors are theoretically eligible, but it's really nice to get a teaching award from a school that highly values teaching. The award, which lasts five years, is for outstanding teaching and so, in the beautiful logic of academia, I get to teach fewer classes each year.
But in fact I am going to use the award time and support to revamp almost all of my classes. I want to add some kind of cross-cultural comparisons to the classes, and this is going to require lots of work. For example, I will begin studying Japanese at Harvard so that, one hopes, by the end of the five-year period I'll be able to teach parts of the Tale of Genji in my medieval lit in translation course. One of my rules has beem that I won't teach anything in translation that I can't read in the original, hence studying Japanese for Genji. I also hope to be able to add Old Norse in alternation with Anglo-Saxon, and to teach an Oral Tradition course (which will violate my "have to read everything in the original" rule, since there's no way I can pick up Serbo-Croatian, Xhosa, Finnish and Ancient Greek in any reasonable amount of time (though maybe before I die...).
The most important thing (to me) about the award, more than the award itself, is that I feel as if Wheaton has continued to reciprocate in the loyalty that I have shown the institution (and that it showed to me in my tenure case). It's nice to be appreciated, and it certainly will motivate me to work harder and support Wheaton (and, as if by magic, I was just appointed to chair the Educational Policy Committee, which is one of those things that people say is "a big honor -- which is true -- but by which they really mean "is a huge pain in the butt").
Other news: I received my copy of
Tolkien Studies Volume II:
Essays Included in this Volume are:
'And She Named Her Own Name': Being True to One's Own Word in Tolkien's Middle-earth
-Richard C. West
Richard C. West: A Checklist
-Compiled by Douglas A. Anderson
Parallel Lives: The Sons of Denethor and the Sons of Telamon
The White City: The Lord of the Rings as an Early Medieval Myth of the Restoration of the Roman Empire
-Judy Ann Ford
World Creation as Colonization: British Imperialism in 'Aldarion and Erendis'
-Elizabeth Massa Hoiem
'Tricksy Lights': Literary and Folkloric Elements in Tolkien's Passage of the Dead Marshes
Tolkien and Modernism
Tolkien, King Alfred, and Boethius
-John Wm. Houghton and Neal K. Keesee
A Definitive Identification of Tolkien's 'Borgil':An Astronomical and Literary Approach
Love: 'The Gift of Death'
Tolkien's Imaginary Nature: An Analysis of the Structure of Middle-earth
-Michael J. Brisbois
Obituary: Humphrey Carpenter (1946-2005)
-Douglas A. Anderson"
Plus a great many book reviews, "The Years' Work in Tolkien Studies 2001-2002" by David Bratman, and Bibliography (in English) for 2003.