So now it is here, the fatal year in which my project funding will definitely end. Since my last postings, nothing has changed to the fact that I have no stable perspective for the time after (somebody should really tell the German Research Foundation that Junior Research Group Leadership is not considered an equivalent to the second book by hiring committees, at least in the fields I work in).
Still, there is more or less one year of funding left, at least for me, and I intend to make the best out of it. Right now the team only consists of 4 persons, the contracts of the others having ended already. From the summer on, I will be completely by myself. I keep my fingers crossed that my teammates will have found a suitable position by then – we are spending a great deal of time working on that.
Until April, I am still a locum professor for Digital Humanities. I intend to publish two papers which will pull together the theoretical threads I have been working with in my presentations of the last year (there were four of them that I have not published yet) and draw the line back to the textological inspiration that has been driving me over the past two years.
There will also be a very full week in March in which I will attend the first meeting of the COST network “Reassembling the Republic of Letters” and a conference on Friedrich von Gentz in Köln. These will be occasions to discuss what I feel I am entitled to consider myself an expert in – which means I can travel relaxed and fully enjoy the exchanges. Working under less pressure is my resolution number one for this new year and it will be the perfect week to experience its implementation.
Regarding the digital edition, we will have to improve the homepage, add the missing text parts, include network visualizations, finish editing the three most important corpora (Tieck to Raumer, Chamisso to de La Foye and as much as possible of Euler to Formey) and find an archiving solution. It is my plan to put together the budget I have left and enquire in the two relevant institutions about the possible costs of maintaining the edition for at least 5 to 10 years (I really hope that I will be given opportunities for a less local solution before that, but as long as no improvement is in sight, my first and most important task is to save the work that has been done).
In April, I will begin my first Vorlesung, which will allow me to put together what will become the general frame of my much-needed second book in terms of literary history. The topic is no less than “Writers and their publishers from the 18th to the 21st century”. There will be some reading to be done, as well as some writing, which I am looking forward to.
Since I intend to qualify in a digital field (yes, digital literary studies will exist at some point), this book will not stand by itself, but be accompanied by a database. In parallel to the classical literary history part, I intend to begin harvesting and analyzing my corpus from March on so that both work steps progress together. The aim is to begin writing in August. And also to stop writing any kind of grant application whatsoever for at least a year and a half in order to concentrate on my research.
I know that this is a wise decision, but it is not an easy one. The whole system pushes me towards more and more applications. Isn’t it depressing to think that refraining to write grant applications has become a sheer luxury leading to guilt and potentially further inner pressure? We will see in two years if the bet was worth it…