One doorstopper later

Easter break at  last! The past four weeks feel like an eternity that would have passed by eerily quick. I remember, vaguely, the chaos of the first weeks. I remember realizing painfully it was almost impossible to find time for daily hours of work. There have been week-ends I spent preparing and recording my classes, there have been evenings grading exercises. The weekdays, well, the weekdays felt like thin air evaporating between homeschooling, cooking, laundry, keeping the kids at least a little bit away from their digital appliances. After four weeks, it seems like I can’t really remember now what a real day of work is like, or what it is like to not be with people the whole day. New ways of sharing the house space have been established. New ways of not spending 8 hours in a row on my work tasks had to be found. 

Setting priorities is still key. Each day has its priorities, each week, determined less by the reality of the tasks to realize and more by the needs of my family: anger, sadness, too much homework, or too little. Cooking needs is also a key factor that has become more complicated since the farmers’ markets were forbidden something like 3 weeks ago. I have tried to buy a lot and keep as much as I could as long as I could from this last market day I could attend, but there are only a few potatoes and a couple of apples left. The gardens are beautiful, plants and leaves are growing, but we keep eating boring vegetables, canned food, or tasteless supermarket greens. 

Although I have neither been able to work a lot at a time nor to dedicate any of that time to research in and of itself, my projects are progressing. Some very slowly, but I am sure they do, and that’s the only thing that matters right now.

The DAHN project has been progressing a great deal, as you could see in Floriane Chiffoleau’s blog posts (here and here). She has really been working a lot – and I am very much looking forward to her next OCR and modelling steps. As for me, I  tried to reflect a bit on what I experienced on twitter (here, in French), also on what I learned on twitter about the use of gaming platforms for educational purposes (here, also in French). I finished reading Der Stechlin (this morning between 7:00 and 8:45 A.M.) and could only conclude that I would never be able to work on such a complex novel with my current students. I felt highly entertained and enjoyed it a lot though – I really don’t know what I should read next now that I’m done…  reading a doorstopper like that is a good time unit (4 weeks, an era in itself), and I will try to find another one to accompany the next month. 

The next steps for the weeks to come are to keep up with correcting students’ exercices and helping them prepare their final term papers; to start preparing their Erasmus departure in the Fall; and to prepare the new Fall term here, especially for the Erasmus students who should come to us: e.g., prepare a reasonable online setting for the Fall term. Since I want to reach in a grant proposal on April 30th, I will only start preparing this teaching setting properly in May, but that’s the idea, and it will probably keep me busy in May, June, and part of July, altogether with the numerous book, project, position, etc. reviews that are due in May, June and July.

By then, I am looking forward to taking advantage from what my colleagues in Germany are now starting to set up for their own term (for instance this for German Studies), which is starting now, and to being able to interact with them, while preparing the next term… it feels much less lonely now that my twitter world on the other side of the Rhine is on it too.

Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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