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Archive for March 17th, 2009

communism conference videos

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There are a few videos from the Birkbeck Communism conference up on Youtube. Let’s hope the whole thing is up somewhere soon….

SZ refers back in this clip to one of my favorite bits of the conference, a section of his main paper about Haiti and Hegel (drawn from Susan Buck-Morss’s Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History – they shoulda invited S B-M, obviously!)

Something amazing, and a bit dispiriting, happens a few minutes later… No video of that yet so far.

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March 17, 2009 at 7:51 am

Posted in communism

full employment

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Recently promised myself (again) that I’d do only serious posts, no more self-reflection,  no more twittering. But just this last time:

Aforesaid friend mentioned in my last post arrived and spent the day today hanging around my office and the environs of my uni while I did what I had to do at work. When we were done, he said to me (I paraphrase a bit, but only a bit) man you do work fucking hard here huh?

I made him repeat this to my wife when we finally got to my place.

It’s true. I do. This system is way way more work-intensive than the US model. Academic work is always intensive, but this thing is pretty close to forty-hours-a-week of actual scheduled or semi-scheduled activities. I.e. reading and preparation, let alone research, don’t’t count in the total.

Hmmm. Still a good trade to live where I do. And very happy to be employed at all, god.

In the Observer yesterday there was a feature that detailed what people do at their jobs all day. Annoyingly, it only features relatively interesting upper or upper-middle-class jobs (no 9.00 am I stand at the till and ring up groceries, 1.00 pm I take lunch 2.00 pm I stand at the till and ring up groceries, 6.00 pm I go home in other words). And at least one of them is hideously annoying. But they do have the rundown on a day in the life of a university teacher of English whose days sound like they are almost exactly like mine, adjusted for having kids and such.

7am Wake up to the Today programme. Go to the gym, followed by breakfast with my girlfriend, a theatre director and translator.

8.45am Walk to college, which takes about 45 minutes.

10am Give a 50-minute lecture. I do about two a week, at the moment it’s literature and the Second World War.

11am Have an hour-long “supervision”, a one-to-one (or two) tutorial with students about their essays. I do about 12 a week.

1.15pm Eat with the 60 other fellows of the college at high table. It’s a really good way to bond as a unit.

2.30pm Give a weekly seminar, on modernism and the short story.

4pm More supervisions and endless emailing, mostly with the 30 English students I’m responsible for, but also arranging library visits, organising symposiums and contacting the editor of a book I am writing on London’s bomb sites and the literature of wartime London. I also set entrance exams and interview prospective students in December and January.

5pm Work on my book – it’s my first. I try to clear one full day a week, but the reality is that the three eight-week terms pass in an intense, exciting blur, and holidays are for research and writing, preparing reading lists, lectures and seminars.

7pm Sometimes I eat in college, work late in my office and then catch last orders in the pub and debate with friends. If not, I walk home listening to my Welsh-language podcasts practising my vocab. My mother is Welsh but I grew up in Brighton, so I only speak a little.

8pm Prepare for tomorrow’s supervisions, reading all the essays I will be discussing. Practise lectures on my cat Tolly.

8.30pm Cook dinner. I enjoy cooking as a way of relaxing.

9.30pm More preparation. Then I’ll read in bed until I fall asleep at about midnight. I have countless books on the go at once. I like to read articles and journals around my subject, but also completely off-topic as well. As a child, I just wanted to read books and I’ve fallen into a career where I get paid to do that. Some days, I can’t quite believe it.

Not too far off, nope. Except tonight I’m still very much marking papers and it’s currently 12:24 AM.

Just saying. I do have a minor point to make about all of this – something about work and sanity, something about work and sanity and the near absense of consciousness due to overwork , and perhaps all of that in relation to strange utopias of hard work… What? There aren’t any? What about the new bloomusalem? – but there’s no time to make that point now.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 17, 2009 at 12:36 am