[My sabbatical this Fall has been hugely beneficial and just plain awesome in a number of ways. So for this year’s installment of my annual Thanksgiving series, I wanted to highlight a few of the things for which I’ve been especially Thanks-full. Share your own Thanks in comments if you want!]
On three vital things this sabbatical has given me.
1) Book Promotion: I’ll highlight some specific takeaways from a handful of the Fall’s many awesome book talks in a series in a few weeks, so here I just wanted to note the simple and crucial fact that I would never have been able to travel to many (probably most) of these talks without the time and flexibility provided by my sabbatical. Given how important I find such talks to promoting and sharing a book, to helping it find audiences and readers as any of us who write hope that our projects will, I would say that this is both one more way in which I am very lucky to have a tenured faculty position and something that we should be advocating for for all our colleagues and peers. Publication is one scholarly and professional goal and deserves its own support of course; but promotion beyond publication is another and an equally important goal, a fact of which I’ve become more and more aware over the years and which this fortunate Fall has very much driven home.
2) Future Plans: For one of those talks in particular, for the Southgate Women’s Circle Breakfast, I shared not We the People but the first public talk on my proposed next project: Of Thee I Sing: The History of American Patriotisms. That proposal remains in progress (you’ll be among the first to know if and when it moves forward, of course!), but I’m very excited to have had the chance this Fall to start thinking about that next project, one that I hope can land with the same wonderful Rowman and Littlefield American Ways series in which We the People appeared. I think it’s fair to say that when we’re teaching a 4-4 load (or more), much of our ability to think and plan is dedicated to that present pedagogical work, and rightly so. So I’m very thankful to have had some time this Fall to think about what comes next, not only in terms of this scholarly project, but for other ongoing aspects of my work as well, including for NeMLA, the Scholars Strategy Network’s Boston Chapter, and more.
3) Vital Perspective: To be honest, though, my central focus this Fall has been on none of those professional efforts. For whatever reason—perhaps the fact that my sons are both at the same middle school now, in 8th and 7th grade; perhaps my summer move back to the town where I lived when they were babies—I spent much of the Fall thinking about the dwindling number of autumns we have together before they’re on to all that’s next. Fortunately, my sabbatical also gave me the perfect response to such thoughts: I’ve been able to get the boys from school just about every afternoon (when I’m not traveling, anyway), and to have so many of these precious afternoons with them during the weeks when they’re at their Mom’s as well as during our scheduled weeks together. I don’t want to speak for them, but I hope and believe that they’ll remember this time as they grow older—and I know I will remember and treasure it, and am beyond thankful to have had these afternoons.
November recap this weekend,
PS. What are you all thankful for? I’m also very thankful for you as readers, conversation partners, and colleagues in AmericanStudying!
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