The Joys of Academia

In Australia, that supposedly relaxing ‘break’ between Autumn and Spring Semesters comes to an end this week. It’s Orientation week and Graduation Week here at Wollongong, and it’s busy. But what we’re seeing is nothing compared to next week, when the students will return in earnest.

Ros and I have been enjoying our ‘break’ by finishing up paperwork from last Semester and sorting out paperwork for next Semester. In addition, it’s a fun time of year for Early Career Researchers like our good selves, when we find ourselves bandying around acronyms like CASS, DECRA, ICFA, PCA/ACA, GANZA, and we add in a few actual words like Crawford and Probation for good measure.Β  What all of these forms have in common is thatΒ  just when you think you have them *nearly* filled out, you remember the question you’ve been avoiding all along: the one about about assessing things like the impact of your work.

Now, it occurs to me perhaps we are not the best placed people to do that. So if you have read Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture, please consider reviewing it on Amazon or similar.

Other than having to read and write and think about myself, it’s been a pretty good week. I got to participate in a Welcome for Study Abroad students, of whom I’m particularly fond (I have done 3 short-term hostings, and once upon a time I was an exchange student myself). And I also had the opportunity to present on teaching students with Asperger’s Syndrome to my colleagues (again, a cohort of whom I am fond and with whom I share some traits πŸ™‚ ). Working a little bit of werewolfery into the latter proved beyond me, but I did manage to use popular culture as a teaching tool. I love this, so I hope you’ll indulge a little non-shifty moment. Enjoy.


6 responses to “The Joys of Academia

  • roslynw

    Great clip, thanks for sharing.

    When it comes to early career researchers filling in fellowship/ grant/ award applications and thinking about their chances of actually getting those things, the other most popular acronyms that get tossed around are: LOL and ROFL πŸ™‚

  • Melissa D. Aaron

    I was happy to review your book. I read it, and I thought it was fantastic. I’m even a full professor, if that helps. The only thing is–well, the book is fantastic, except I was working on parallel lines since 2005 and didn’t even know. I was presenting at the HPEF conferences and it was a sideline to my “real” field in Shakespeare and economics. Now I have a hundred pages of unpublished and unpublishable material, because your book has made my work totally irrelevant. This is very depressing.

    Still, the book is excellent. I can’t think of anything you left out. I don’t agree with every single thing (my read on Lupin is a bit different), but I’m really impressed by the way you analyzed everything thematically and your looks at gender, alpha pack structure, etc.

    I gave it a five star review on Amazon, and now I shall go back to being depressed.

    In all seriousness, congratulations!

    • kmcmahoncoleman

      Thank you, Melissa; it’s very exciting to have our first Amazon review!

      Sorry to have depressed you. 😦 I’d be very interested to read the different take on Lupin, though. This makes me think that maybe there’s still some scope for publication ..?

      • Melissa D. Aaron

        I think I’d say that the lycanthropy depicted in Rowling falls somewhere along the lines of mental illness, and I say that from a cross-read with Webster’s Duchess of Malfi. It’s particularly interesting to me that the “treatment” available to Lupin in the pre-wolfsbane potion days is almost the same as that in Webster: essentially, lock them up in a dark room until it’s over. The interesting thing is that in both Webster and Burton, lycanthropy is a disease of the mind related to melancholy, while in Rowling, it is “real,” and while the Duke in some sense has “earned” his lycanthropy, Lupin has not.

        On the other hand, as you point out, equating lycanthropy to any kind of disability is very problematic, and that has something to do with internal demonization, rather than external demonization. There’s also the paradox that Lupin can’t be an effective advocate for werewolf rights, simply because by definition he forfeits the right to be heard. I can’t remember any non-human in Rowling actually advocating for themselves. I’m really struck by the number of times others refer to him as “the werewolf,” something like Shylock being “the Jew” or Othello being “the Moor,” and that too is something he’s internalized. Werewolves are both Beast and Being, as Scamander says, and yet to most of wizarding society, Lupin is a Beast full time. Hermione’s well-meaning sympathy doesn’t quite acknowledge the fact that Lupin really does turn into a monster.

        I’m also very interested in the way that he uses his internal expertise as Dark Creature. I think the reader tends to forget that the character is positioned as a teacher first and as a werewolf second.

        Since Rowling’s used the “infection by bite” trope and also the werewolf as pedophile trope, it makes me wonder what she was intending to do with the character if, as she’s said, she originally intended to have him and Tonks survive. The more I re-read the books, the more it seems that both he and Sirius have crossed the line from “damaged” to “too damaged.”

        But all this is probably very obvious. Having something be done or said before simply isn’t much of a problem in Shakespeare studies, or at least, I don’t think so. It’s usually a question of nuance.

  • roslynw

    Thanks for your kind words Melissa! I think part of our reasoning for the book was that there’s relatively little work done in this area as opposed to say vampire studies, so there is definitely a need for more work in the field, and it would be terrific if you were able to pursue your project. I’d certainly be interested to read it πŸ™‚

    I think what you’ve said about Lupin and mental illness is a really intriguing way to read it, especially with the parallels you mention with other works … a fruitful line of enquiry I think.

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