Back to teaching, and good to be back in the classroom. In the first term our weeks run Thursday-Wednesday (which is confusing) so as my teaching is on Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday this means I’ve just finished the first week. Given the number of years I’ve been away from undergraduate teaching, I had a few comments suggesting I might be dreading it, or would find the transition hard. I am finding the administrative work and meetings difficult; but the actual class contact with students is great. I’ve always enjoyed that part. And I don’t feel like I’ve been out of touch entirely – I’ve regularly done seminars with students on my travels and when in a visiting post elsewhere. And I’ve done a lot of invited seminars, lectures etc. over the past few years.
This year I’m teaching a full-year module on Territory and Geopolitics; blocks of lectures in Political Geography and Theory and Geography; and a few other bits. In Political Geography we have four people teaching four week blocks – I do the ‘key concepts’ bit up front, on politics, geography and political geography; on power and the state; space and territory; and boundaries and frontiers. In Theory and Geography we have four thinkers covered, each by a different person. This year they are Foucault, Derrida, Butler and Deleuze. I’m doing the Foucault block. This means most of my teaching is in the first half of the first term. After October is done, I’ll mainly just have the Territory and Geopolitics module. The first half of that is historical; the second half twentieth century and contemporary. I’m looking forward to working with students throughout a full year. I’m happy doing the blocks of teaching in modules run by a few people, but you do lose the sense of seeing a group of students develop over a longer time period.
I’m also taking over the co-supervision of two PhD students. One has transferred from another department in Durham and is working on the social production of space in Tehran, and the other began in January when I was in Australia and is doing a comparison of urban landownership in China and Britain. Both are using Lefebvre, among other thinkers. Obviously PhD supervision involves a lot of suggestion and guidance, but I’ve learnt a lot from my PhD students in the past, and I’m sure Iman and Chaoqun will be no exception. So looking forward to that too.