We’re at the end of an institutional midterm break, a “reading week” that could be a time for reading, dreaming, and imagining other worlds. Consider doing what you can to subvert a system from within: the next time that you’re designing and planning courses, the next time we have a midterm break please make it a break, for everyone. No assignments right before which then hang over faculty for marking. No assignments during the break for students. No test/exam assignments immediately after the break which mean that students “study” during the (pseudo-)break. If you “have” to have an assignment at this time of the term, for reasons of symmetry and pace and rhythm, make it an assignment that is itself a week-long break.
7 October 2022 – UBC Department of French, Hispanic, and Italian Studies Graduate Student Workshop: Mental Health and Academic Productivity. Magali Blanc, Juliet O’Brien, and Arturo Victoriano
Here is something that I wrote last year for its 30th of September, in what might superficially seem unconnected: a course called “Introduction to the Literatures and Cultures of the Romance World I: Medieval to Early Modern.” But all things are connected, even if you have to do some thinking work to get there. And that work is always worth doing and a good thing. Especially today. This post is about poetry and listening.
If books are brilliant because they are full of wonder, consider how wonderful the bookshelf is. More than a tool—akin to how the book is more than a technology—the bookshelf organises reading, knowledge, and knowledge-making. It’s physically solid and has a comforting fixity. It’s movable, expandable and contractable. It can be multiplied, encased, left to float on walls, become a room, be the base building block of a building. And still, a single shelf can be a library in its own right; and any horizontal surface can be a shelf, provided that it holds books.
= consent in and around and through medieval Occitan poetry. From the original project description when I applied for “professional development” / sabbatical leave back in October 2020: Consent is an ever more pressing topic, usually appearing in its negative form: silence as assumed consent, lack of consent, individual defensiveness, fear, alienation. This project looks to medieval Occitan poetry for other models of consent that may offer hope and help to the here and now, reaffirming the con- and the -sent that are the roots and core of the word and its meaning, and advocating collaborative consensual community. Through shifting the terms from the nominal to the verbal form of “consent,” medieval Occitan poetry and medievalism can help us to move from rape culture to consent culture; from passion to compassion, towards thinking anarchically and ecocritically, in transformative sustainable convivencia.
Last year I worked every weekend from mid-March to the end of September.
This essay is based on a talk given in January 2020 at the Modern Language Association Convention in Seattle, whose Presidential Theme was “Being Human.”