Two Minutes To Lockdown

At 7:58 PM yesterday, two minutes from the official announcement of a lockdown of the whole country that is bound to last for weeks, I took my kids out and we threw seed balls. I had prepared them the day before, while the sun was shining on our little garden, figuring that we would take long walks to compensate for the lack of school in the coming weeks. I wanted us to throw them around on our walking paths, in order to see them bloom day after day. While we can still take walks if needed, these are rather limited and will probably be controlled now. The odds to be able go for daily and intense observation strolls are rather low.

So we took all the seed balls at once yesterday evening, two minutes before the president’s speech, and threw them above the wall opposite our house. On the other side of our street, there is an out of use facility, partly paved, partly grassed. We threw our seed balls to the grassed parts, which we can see from the window of my daughter’s bedroom. We’ll check from there how our butterfly-friendly seed mixture grows. It will be weeks, a lot of weeks.

The first days have been challenging already. The kids are at home, the French students are worried for their grades, the Erasmus students also had to decide what to do. It will probably take another 10 days for all of this to come into some kind of routine. I find it extremely difficult at this point to sort things out: what do I have to do, what do I want to do, what should I do just for sanity’s sake (which is at this point my main criterion, for me and my family)? 

Things are both accelerating and decelerating at the same time, forcing us all to find another rhythm. After spending the last weeks literally glued to twitter and feeling this was sucking me into a rhythm that was dragging me down, I decided to get back to blogging. It has helped me in the past find a suitable rhythm. I hope it will this time too. 

Regarding teaching, we still have 4 weeks to go until term is officially over. I told the students that I would only start next week with the remote content. This gave me time to evaluate options and I have decided not to give videoconference-based classes, since several students are struggling with their internet connection. I am, though, providing videoconference consultations (rather a lot of them this week and from next week on only Monday mornings) for all students who’d need contact. My classes on the history of German-speaking literature in the 19th and the 20th century will be made available online, I will post the link here. At this point, I am going for a commented powerpoint. We’ll see how that goes…

As for research, getting organized will take even more time in spite of all the event cancellations that are going on. Keeping in touch with PhD candidates, with team members, and giving them instructions; evaluation tasks that are not being postponed; administrative tasks that were already waiting for my attention… and postponing the events I am (co-organizing) such as the seminar on selection mechanisms in Literature and Culture, or the Master Class in Digital Humanities #dhmc2020. “One thing at a time” turns out to be more difficult to realize when there is so little mental room for defining your research priorities. But I hope to manage to make that kind of room here – and to make it as enjoyable as possible for you, dear readers!


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Anne Baillot (March 17, 2020). Two Minutes To Lockdown. Digital Intellectuals. Retrieved July 21, 2024 from

Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université, currently Researcher in Residence at DARIAH-ERIC in Berlin. My areas of research include German literature, digital methods for Heritage and Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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