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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shadow CV version II

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education referred to the concept of a “shadow cv.” Disappointingly, this turned out to mean 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 had my share of those. Nevertheless, my notion of the shadow cv is different and much less negative. 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 and excellent teaching over the long haul. I am not certain that this is what item (4) is requesting, but I will give a partial list of some of the items that might appear on my shadow curriculum.

•I have been blogging since 2002. My first blog “Bemsha Swing” was named after a Thelonious Monk tune and contained my reflections on jazz, poetry, translation, prosody, and whatever else interested me. It was one was one of the first poetry and poetics blogs in existence, at a moment when these blogs were becoming a significant medium of communication among American poets. My current blog is called “Stupid Motivational Tricks,” with the subtitle “Scholarly Writing and How to Get it Done.” Many readers in and outside of academia have found my advice and reflections useful. “I now use “Stupid Motivational Tricks” as a forum for other subjects as well. I have written more than 2,000 posts on this blog alone. One faculty member at another institution credits her implementation of my advice for her successful tenure.

•Since August of 2015, I have been composing songs on an electric keyboard and writing out the music using Finale, a music notation software program, as well as taking voice lessons. My goal is to incorporate music more actively into my research interests and find a way of using it more astutely in my courses on oral traditions in the Hispanic world. While this may seem as though it were a non-academic interest for someone not in the music school, 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 asked me to be a consultant for a multi-media project she is doing on Lorca’s duende.) I read recently of a study 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 and song lyrics. I have book of poetry with the title Mayhew’s Mood that I have not yet published, and have given poetry readings in Lawrence. Some people have also told me that I am an adept translator of poetry. This is a long-standing interest of mine, and I have published translations from time to time, but my long-term scholarly projects are demanding of my time. Still, I plan to translate a book of Lorca’s poetry, possibly Canciones. I have very well-defined ideas about how this should be done, and I believe I have the ability to do it well.

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