MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20-21, 2011: Legends of the Fall

I don’t meant to rush you and what I’m sure will be another couple weeks of beaches and pools, lemonades and iced teas, baseball games and bbqs, but I’m thinking today about the fall; maybe that’s because we’ll be in Virginia for the last week of August (more on that trip and what it means for this blog coming on Monday), and when we get back it’ll be only one more day until my fall semester begins. In any case, here are five things I’m excited about as the fall approaches:
1)      The November release of a French collection of essays on Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (1998), including a essay by this AmericanStudier. Apparently Roth’s novel is on the current required American lit reading list for French students, and so an enterprising young French scholar, Velichka Ivanova, decided to edit the first French collection on the novel. She was kind enough to ask me if I could revise a portion of an earlier article that focuses on the book, and that’s my contribution to the volume. Not sure if I’ll have to start wearing a beret and smoking cigarettes once I get translated into Francais, but I’ll keep you posted.
2)      Stepping up my contributions to the work toward the creation of the American Writers Museum, and specifically my help on the NEH proposal for a traveling exhibition on immigrant literature that will help get that Museum off and running. The AWM is the brainchild of a retired Irish American engineer, Malcolm O’Hagan, and has garnered the support and efforts of a huge number of impressive scholars and librarians, museum administrators and public officials, and many others; I’m honored and incredibly excited to be on board as a scholarly advisor. With a January deadline for revisions to the traveling exhibit proposal, the fall promises to include lots of conference calls, rewrites, bibliographies, and co-writing. Can’t wait!
3)      The New England American Studies Association conference. I’ve bombarded you with enough info about this conference, and the corresponding pre-conference blog; if for some reason you’ve managed to stay blissfully ignorant of their existence or details, I’ll direct you to the links at #3 below. The conference will hopefully be a great time for all concerned, but for me—as I’m sure is always the case for the NEASA President in his or her one year of service—that weekend is going to mean the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and almost two years of brainstorming and idealizing. Kind of like a wedding, only I very much hope that the attention is spread much more fully around all of our attendees, not least ‘cause there’s no way I’m wearing a tux.
4)      A new semester at Fitchburg State, and especially my first time teaching our English Department’s senior capstone course. This course brings together English majors from across our four tracks—Literature, Secondary Ed/Licensure, Professional Writing, and Theater—and asks them to reflect on their time in the department, to assemble a senior portfolio of their best work, to talk to each other about their respective tracks, and to consider what’s next in their lives (professionally and otherwise). I fully expect that these two sections will be different from any other course I’ve ever taught, and that, however much I plan and prep, I have no real idea what they will entail once they’re underway. Sounds good to me!
5)      Kindergarten! For my older son, that is. (And pre-K for my younger son, who would rightfully demand to be included here.) The rest of these items generally make me feel a combination of excited and stressed, with an emphasis on the former for sure. This one makes me feel both old (and bittersweet) and young (and nervous/excited) again, if that makes any sense. And if all of the other items are ultimately more about other people’s experiences—the collection’s readers, the Museum’s attendees, the conference’s participants, the Capstone’s students—this one of course is entirely about my son’s next step into, the next season of, his own developing world and life.
Bring on the fall! More this coming week, including Monday’s transition into my Virginia week,
Ben
PS. Six links to start with:
1)      Some info on the Roth book: http://rothsociety.org/?page_id=33&paged=2
3)      NEASA: http://neasa.org/; and the blog: http://neasaconference.blogspot.com
4)      My home away from home: http://fitchburgstate.edu/english/
5)      My son’s new home away from home: http://mitchell.needham.k12.ma.us/main/
6)      OPEN: What are you looking forward to this fall?

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