Work in progress

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Being a quick but serious note to self as a reminder to keep myself accountable and scholarlily honest through this middle part of the summer.

(1) My main work right now is teaching summer-intensive FREN 220, an “introduction to early French literature and to textual analysis,” reading “representative works from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, including theatre, fiction, poetry and non-fiction prose”; in French. Notes from the class live here.

This is hard work: I last taught this course five years ago, and while I’ve read all its texts a fair few times over many years and worked on some of them more recently, they’re the kinds of rich works that change every time you read them (as do the students in the class and the world around you) so the course does too. It’s a rewarding balance of the #seriousacademic and the #curiousacademic.



(2) “With-ness”: con– in medieval Occitan poetry. Thinking about compassion, companionship, community, and communication; collegiality, colloquium, and collectivity; and consultation and consent. The idea of working on con– started through a first encounter with the lovely Guilhem de Peitieus in 2000 and considerations on compliance culture and confidence from late 2015 to early 2016. During that same period and through the rest of last year and this present one, because of its part in rape culture, compliance culture connected in turn to consent (and a happy future possible world of “consent culture”) through participating in the work of the UBC Steering Committee on Sexual Assault. See for example these posts. Results, in collaboration with a Panel and a Policy-writing committee who did the real hard work: UBC Policy 131 and a Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office. That Steering Committee work is not done, though, but projected to continue indefinitely; we will only be useless and irrelevant when rape and rape culture are no more.


UBC Policy 131 – Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct: p. 1-2 (of 13)

Around a year ago, there was some incidental (and not coincidental) consent in Occitan Lyric Poetry as Defence Against The Dark Arts. I’m continuing some of that work in a paper at the MLA convention in January 2018: “The joy of consent: feeling together.” There will be puns, including the obvious: anything else would be at least a discourtesy and at worst a grossly inappropriate cruel injustice to my beloved Guilhem.


(3) “For-ness”: working along similar philological lines, considering pro– and formulating an idea of what I’m tentatively calling “radical professionalism.” The roots of this work, as with the previous item, are annoyance and anger on behalf of words being misused and abused; in the case of this p-word (like the other p-word that’s been a longer-running persistent pet peeve, “passion”), coupled with worry about larger (ethical, political, cultural) implications and practical consequences. “Radical professionalism” will be a short blog post. [2017-09 ed.: 😆😅😂🤣😶 FAMOUS LAST WORDS]


Its rough gist, minus the medieval material, is as follows:



(4) (August) preparatory work for next year: the regular teaching (term 1 teaching, term 1 and 2 courses I’m coordinating, materials for TA instructors)


(5) plus a new course—Medieval Studies 310D, “Marvels”—whose book orders will need to be submitted by the beginning of October.


Meme: Damian Fleming, @FW_Medieval

(6) (errrm later?!?…) While there are several more extensive works in progress languishing dustily, one of them has gained in immediacy.

It looms ever larger.

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I’m not superstitious but: three things—the end-of-summer-term-1 June exam-marking soundtrack, teaching Marie de France a fortnight ago, and reading China Miéville—reminded me of my love for a second Wily William, Guillaume Apollinaire, and I remembered that it’s nearly two years since I last thought seriously about the rambling effing triffid that is the Medievalist Apollinaire beast. (There’s a book’s worth of stuff, in various states of coherence and cohesion.) Threes are significant. This is a sign from higher forces. And it’s the centenary of Apollinaire’s death on 9 November 2018.


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