In today’s post she describes what is apparently a normal day in her University of Connecticut office.
I have three undergraduates and one former grad student sitting in my office on this sunny Thursday morning. The undergrads have all just come from my class on “The Femme Fatale in Literature” and they’re exhausted after having read up to chapter 58 in Vanity Fair.
Curly-haired Stella, who’s graduating this year, is muttering that English majors “get no respect” as she heats instant mac-and-cheese in my office microwave. Tim sits in the Dangerous Chair, a rickety wooden one I’ve dragged around since my days as a grad student at Queens College; it takes a daring soul to put him or herself in that seat. He is brave enough to nod in agreement, which puts him in an even more precarious position. Julie sits at one computer, poised to complete whatever task I assign (she’s a junior and working for me this semester — she throws away food when the expiration date is more than three years old and she’s a photocopying demon). Karen, the newly minted Ph.D. of recent zombie fame, is working on her laptop, busily revising the opening paragraph of her book proposal.
Just how big is that office and how can I get one just like it?
All scholars love isolation–a place where they can retreat and do their intellectual work. As some of my readers know I have long contemplated building a writing shed in my backyard.
But when I go into the office I want to be around students. They energize me and offer me much needed opportunities for sociability. I hope one day that my office hours might have the same kind of energy that Professor Barecca’s office hours appear to have.
On one level, Barecca’s post today is about what students can do with an English major. But on another level it is about the kind of intellectual community that many of us who teach undergraduates would like to cultivate.