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Monday, February 8, 2016

The Shadow CV

Ok. This is my PTR time. (Post-tenure review!). Part four asks for this. Can you tell me if this sounds good. Too boastful in tone? Too modest? Just right? Thanks in advance. (Thomas, Leslie, Bob Basil, Clarissa?... anyone else out there?)

4) Statement of Additional Activities not covered by your CV

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education referred to the concept of a “shadow cv.” Disappointingly, this turned out to be a list of failures and rejections, of scholarly dead-ends, of grant proposals that weren’t funded. Like anyone else in the profession, I have my share of those. Nevertheless, my notion of the shadow cv is somewhat different and, I believe, more interesting. I see the shadow cv as consisting of a list of other activities that are not quite “academic” enough for the cv, but that enrich one’s personal and creative energy in ways that sometimes end up contributing to scholarly productivity in the long run. I am not sure that this is what item (4) is requesting, but I will list some of the items that might appear on my shadow curriculum:

•I am a member of a local group of poets and writers that meets every Thursday, in the tradition of Spanish tertulia. This distinguished group has included the former poet-laureate of Kansas and a well-known translator of Homer and Dante, as well as a Distinguished Professor in the English Department who is one of the top experts on Mark Twain.

•I have been blogging since 2002. My blog is called “Stupid Motivational Tricks,” with the subtitle “Scholarly Writing and How to Get it Done.” Many readers have found my advice useful.

•Since August of 2015, I have been composing songs on an electric keyboard and writing out the music. My goal is to incorporate music more actively into my research interests and find a way of using it more intelligently in my courses on oral traditions in the Hispanic world. While this may seem as though it were a non-academic interest, it dovetails with my interest in Lorca, who was an accomplished musician as well as a poet, playwright, and visual artist. I am moving toward a view of his work that involves a larger conception of his poetics of performance. (Coincidentally, an opera singer recently contacted me and wanted me to be a consultant for a multi-media project she is doing on Lorca’s duende.) I heard of a study recently that found that Nobel-prize winning scientists were far more likely to be involved with creative activities like painting or music composition than non-Nobel scientists. It could be that the Lorquian model of creativity has something to teach all of us.

•I also continue to write my own poetry, but without being too concerned about how much I publish. Some people have also told me that I am a good translator of poetry. This is a long-term interest of mine, and I have published translations from time to time, but my long-term scholarly projects tend to be very demanding of my time. Still, I have in mind to translate a book of Lorca’s poetry, possiby Canciones. I have very definite ideas about how this should be done, and believe I have the capability to do it.


Bob Basil said...


It does not sound boastful at all. Maybe too modest, as I explain below.

Some comments:

Bemsha Swing was around longer than Stupid Motivational Tricks and ran, for awhile, I think, concurrently before you joined them; and it had a different if often related focus. Give that a couple of sentences to that. (Also, it will help connect your blogging - Bemsha often addressed music - to your new practice / recreation in song composition.)

What comes out of your “tertulia” meetings? What do they entail?

Explain what makes Stupid Motivational Tricks the truly cool and important work that it is. What had been missing in the discussion of how to get scholarly writing done? How have you addressed this hole? Give two or three of your greatest hits, one or two sentences per.

Add: “Many readers IN AND OUTSIDE OF ACADEMIA have found my advice useful.” Note, too, that other writers in academia - like me - have quoted your blog extensively (basil.CA, nocontest.CA - I believe you’ve appeared on Clarissasblog.com as well).

Also, it is more than advice; it is a consistent program and philosophy. Explain what that is in a couple of sentences.

Happy vibes!


Bob Basil said...

Addendum: You might consider providing in round figures the number of posts you've written (and the number of words) as a blogger.

clarissasblog.com said...

I think this sounds fantastic. And it's a great alternative to the self-pityfest that the concept of shadow CV has become. I never fill out the section on the additional activities in my review but now I'm thinking maybe I should.

You could also mention that colleagues at other universities whosee careers have dramatically improved as a result of the suggestions ofeed on your blog are prepared to offer written testimonies. :-)

Leslie said...

The tone is fine -- I agree that it could stand being less modest -- but the style is too informal. You need to really explain the value of these things. Do not allow this to be construed as a list of hobbies or a description of personality quirks.

I put a list like this on every annual review, by the way. My colleagues work these things into categories like scholarship and some of them list non-refereed articles with refereed, but I put all of this para- and meta- stuff in its own category, like this, but explain its value in the same terms and tone as I explain why presenting at the MLA is more important than presenting at SCMLA, etc., why Hispanic Review is different from La Chispa, and so on, and so forth. That is to say, en frío, imparcialmente.

Jonathan said...

Thanks to all. I want the informal style because I use a somewhat informal style to describe the real cv as well. It is all in keeping with the tone that I want. While writing the other three sections of the form I realized I am not quite the bum I thought I was.