Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I've threatened to do this before, but I think now is the time to bring down the curtain on this little blog. As many of my readers already know (as if I still had many readers these days, after being such a neglectful writer), I am taking on a new post here at BRU as an Assistant Dean in the Honors College. It's a huge step, one about which I'm a bit ambivalent, and a bit terrified, and (really) very excited. In some ways, it's an experience I'd love to blog about--but that seems just a bit too complex to negotiate at the moment.

It seems a useful moment to reflect on a lot of things as I close up shop. For example, there's a thread rolling around the academic blogosphere about teaching to the kind of student you once were, And in many ways, it's a perfect meme to use to describe this particular transition. Because, you see, this was one of the lines of thought I returned to as I interviewed for this position. I wasn't just an honors student (lots of us were), but I was an honors student at a bunch of not-fancy places--a moderately big fish (though rarely the biggest) in a lot of moderately small ponds.

I'm not a first-generation college student, but second, and my home community was fairly rural, but not deeply so. I was a smart lower-middle class kid in a town that people didn't leave, but mostly because they didn't really want to...Honors pre-college education gave me a lot of opportunities that my public school district couldn't afford me, and the residentiual honors program in undergrad surrounded me with people who had aspirations that I wasn't aware I could have.

And so, taking up a post in an honors college at a university that is not particularly fancy (certainly not at the undergraduate level) feel like a way to teach a lot of kids who could still learn the kinds of (para-curricular) lessons I can teach. Kids who think they are smarter than they are, but are also smarter than they think, just in different ways.

The part about which I am most ambivalent is leaving the English department, particularly at a moment when that department seems poised to potentially leap forward, or possibly go nowhere at all, and where "forward" might be a contested term itself. Perhaps someday I'll return to that department: it's hard to know what direction I'm going after a few years...

This also seems a moment to reflect on blogging. When I first began blogging at Raining Cats and Dogma, I was about to defend my dissertation, take on my first full-time position, and become a father of twins. Now I'm tenured, completing page proofs for the book that came from that dissertation, and moving into administration. Most of that has been chronicled in a weblog (though I see that the domain for the old blog has gone dead...sigh).

These two spaces, and the communities they have afforded me, offered amazing reflective opportunities, ways to acclimate to professional academia, and some damn good friends. These nine years of online writing have been invaluable, and have spanned the rise and (partial) fall of academic blogging as, well, a thing.

It is weird to say goodbye, as it were, but any of you who doesn't already know me IRL, feel free to get in touch, either at this blog's email address or my personal one: both gmail addresses: [delightandinstruct] or [claycomb].

And the rest, as they say, is silence.