>On some level, the narratives I have to write for my tenure narrative are merely hoops I have to jump through. But as I’m telling my graduate students in my research and methods course, there’s a way to make every hoop of this profession into something that matters — if not something that MATTERS on some grand scale, at least something that’s useful for preparing for a next step or stage that matters more, or at least for thinking about what does matter.
So I’m kind of happy that I’m practicing what I’m preaching and I’m pretty pleased with what I’m doing with my narratives. They have a recurring theme (how literary of me!), which is the value of the liberal arts, the humanities, the study of literature, and the study of the past (specifically the Middle Ages in my case, obviously). I’m sure I’m not saying anything particularly original, though I am trying to avoid cant and also trying to come up with concrete examples. But I think this is important for those people on the college and university level of the tenure process who might need to be reminded — or even taught — that there’s a value to what we do in the English department, and that there’s an audience for it as well, not just in our students and other scholars, but in the general public, too. Given that our president at one point wanted to make RBU into a science and technology focused university (though he seems to have backed off of that plan lately — maybe) and generally talks about education in instrumentalist, vocational terms (i.e., as training for a particular occupation or profession), I think the message I’m trying to send is still needed. I’m perfectly willing to make myself the poster-child for these causes.