Friday, February 08, 2008

Reasons for Current Radio Silence

My apologies for having no posts for a very long time. It has been a rather insane month (or year or something). I don't think I have had a block of free time larger than 20 minutes since Christmas. My research days keep getting eaten up with exciting things like our department doing a search, various meetings, scheduling the classes for next year (which killed an entire research day), taking my son to the dentist, my daughter having time off from school, etc. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of clear spots on the horizon: I just depressed myself by looking at the calendar for May because everything was filled up until then.

On the positive side, my classes this semester are excellent. Both the students in Beowulf and the students in the Math/Science Fiction course are the same students that I had in the fall. That's the first time that has ever happened, and it's pretty cool (though a little highschool-ish) to have the same kids all year. They're doing an amazing job in both courses, despite the problems with Beowulf, which we've been doing withing a stinking book for three weeks. Why, you ask? Because a) even though Klaeber IV was not ready yet, publishers stopped printing Klaeber III b) our stupid bookstore didn't order the book on time or didn't inform me that it was out of print and then tried to lie and tell me that I didn't put the order in (thank you, email confirmation). So, publishers of Klaeber III and IV: thanks, morons, for not coordinating yourselves. And to the bookstore: thanks also, morons, for not letting me know in advance. The upshot is that my poor students have been translating Beowulf with photocopies of Klaeber but using the excreble Clark Hall dictionary instead of Klaeber's glossary! And we are only 100 lines behind my schedule. I think my students deserve a freakin medal for doing this.

In other news, Tolkien Studies volume V is just about ready for the printer and there will be some very cool surpises in it. And my trainwreck of an entry on "Maxims, Aphorisms" turns out not to be as bad as I though: basically I am making a pretty good case that there aren't any unequivocal maxims in Old English except for the two poems by that name. So my entry will be bifurcated: half on the two poems and the other half saying that we shouldn't call anything a maxim (everything that's been called a maxim has more commonly been labeled a "proverb").

I also signed contracts for two new courses on CD from Recorded Books: I'll be doing a course on grammar in March and a course on Poetry in June. It's always fun to work with them, and the fact that they think that courses on Grammar and Poetry will be good sellers says good things about both the company and the wider world of listeners and readers.

Speaking of listeners, Anglo-Saxon Aloud continues to roll along. The Minor Poems should be done in two weeks, then Boethius, and then the Paris Psalter (which I'm working on learning to sing). The week of February 18 will feature the metrical charms, which should be at least amusing to Scott Nokes.

I now just have to finish the second chapter of the Science Fiction novel I was commissioned to write, finish my paper on aesthetic selection and then prepare the two lectures I'm giving in Utah in April.

I guess it's better to be overworked than to be bored. I do plan to write about the movement to make colleges spend more of their endowments, Stanley Fish's lame defense of the liberal arts, and more. Eating, sleeping and exercising? I plan on looking into those things. Some day I will read a book for pleasure again, too.


Zephyr said...

"the fact that they think that courses on Grammar and Poetry will be good sellers says good things about both the company and the wider world of listeners"-- I also think it says good things about your teaching skills. I know I really enjoyed your taped lectures on SF, Fantasy, & History of English (the Rhetoric CDs only get a B+). By the way, I predict something new and wonderful will be brewing in your Beowulf class due to the change in ingredients (missing books + deeper class-teacher relationship.

Michelle said...

Cheers to all of it! I'm delighted to learn that you will have more Modern Scholar CDs coming out. I've been working my way through your titles as well as Timothy Shutt's. I have Professor Shutt to thank for keeping my bacon out of Steve Harris's fire last week when we discussed a bit about Boethius in our Chaucer class. (we hadn't done the assigned reading on Boethius yet) I am working my way through Rhetoric II and just today while driving home from the grocery store, I got to the part where you mentioned that you thought poetry merited its own course, so the timing was great to read this tonight. I'll be rereading your 'Chaucer, Bard of the Middle Ages' next to back up what I'm learning in class.

I don't expect you to recall this, but you did (very graciously) respond to an email I sent you 'way back in 2005 when I first had a crack at graduate school at UMass. I'm a great Tolkien enthusiast, and you suggested I should consider going to St. Louis. Anyway, I really appreciated your time then and have enjoyed listening to your lectures since then.

I'm trying to decide if I can get to Kalamazoo in May - does it being Mothers Day weekend make it more or less possible, with regard to my four children? If I do go, I'll almost certainly ask Steve to introduce me to you so I can do a proper fangirl squee and then tell all of my geeky medievalist/Tolkienophile/Beowulf loving friends that I got to meet you.

Sorry to read that you're booked so solid until the end of the school year. That must be overwhelming sometimes. I can relate, in a sense... I scheduled my presentation times for my Medieval Lit class for school vacation weeks, when I can send the children to their Other Parent for a few days.

Last fangirly thought: the summary of 'funny things you said in Anglo Saxon literature' was hilarious! I have sent the link to your blog along to the abovementioned geeky medievalist/Tolkienophile/Beowulf loving friends, who also thought it was great.

Chelsea said...

Have you looked at this site? It has a glossary that's based on Klaeber's and I always found useful when I'd inadvertently left mine at home. (We actually just photocopied all of Klaeber since we couldn't find it so that's another option.)

Andrew Higgins said...

Prof Drout

Welcome back - I look forward to reading your posts. I really enjoyed your article in Silmarilion Thirty Years On and have written a review of it on my blog. Our experiences with the Silmarillion are quite parallel - as my parents were going through a divorce when it came out and one of my father's first weekend visits was a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where in front of the great exhibit of Knights in Armor he gave to me and my brother copies of the newly publshed Silmarillion which we stayed up all night reading!! So your excellent paper brought these memories (nostolgia) flowing back.

I also have a question - I was recenty reading Myth and Magic - Art According to the Inklings (Walking Tree Press, 2008) - in the essay - A Monster that Matters: Tolkien's Grendel Revisited - the author, Euginio Merino states in a footnote that "Tolkien also made a translation of Beowulf, which the Tolkien Society has recently published, Drout is to be the editor. According to Drout himself it will be a two volume work to appear in 2008 (personal communication by the author)." Is that correct - are you closer to publishing Tolkien's Beowulf translation with notes?

Thanks, Andy Higgins (UK)


BAFTA's last night here in the UK (our version of the Academy Awards - not nominations for Beowulf the movie!!

Ecce Equus Pallidus said...

How funny--I am taking a course on Beowulf this semester, and we, naturally, ran into the same problem with the Klaeber editions.

We have been working out of Mitchell and Robinson, having very interesting discussions about editorial choices (for th emost part, we all seem to disagree with a lot of the decisions made for this edition), and watched our poor professor's frustration when she can't find the passage she wants in our book, though she could find it in Klaeber with her eyes closed.