On Monday a new term at Warwick began. My teaching is blocked into term 1, and most of it is in the first few weeks, so this is a busy time. I’m also heading to California next week for the Early Modern Literary Geographies conference, so I feel if I can make it to the end of October I think I’ve got a good chance to surviving the year… In the weekend before term started I finally got my work office to a well-organised state. We’d moved building when I was on leave, and it wasn’t properly unpacked and sorted – this was partly because I have far too much stuff for the space, so a lot was thrown out, and a lot of things on paper are ready to be scanned to pdf and then recycled.
My teaching this year is in two main areas. I’m co-teaching the doctoral thesis writing course with my colleague George Christou. This is about how to become a successful PhD student, and I’ll be leading discussion sessions on what is expected, the viva, making a contribution, the introduction and literature review, and on reading, taking notes and writing practices. This is new teaching for me, and should be interesting. I’ll also be teaching an MA seminar on ‘Burning Issues: Geopolitics Today’, which I’ve taught twice before. The plan here is that it discusses a number of key themes in political geography and geopolitics, with illustrations from contemporary events. In the past I’ve discussed Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, Ebola, Macau and Hong Kong, Boko Haram, Mali, the US/Mexico border and other issues; this year I’m sure I’ll discuss the UK and the EU, Syria, migration, perhaps Colombia and many of the ongoing themes from previous years. Although I have a framework for each lecture from previous years, I try to update the lecture and finalise it only the day before. I pitch the course along the lines of ‘how does a political geographer read the news’, but I also encourage our international cohort of students to give examples and perspectives. Again, it’s an interesting course to teach.
I really want to keep research going, and writing moving forward, even in the busiest part of the year. To do this, I’m experimenting a bit with time management. No teaching is scheduled before 10am – I teach into the evening for the MA course – so I am trying to ensure I add no other early appointments . The plan is that I get up and get ready for work, but sit at my home study desk for two hours before I go into work. I only live a 15 minute bike ride from campus when in Coventry. I intend to use this time for writing before I even open email. It’s worked well each day this week, and I’ve got the California paper sorted out, answered some questions for an interview on the Foucault books, and begun thinking about the plan for the next lectures. It’s obviously not going to be as productive as the sabbatical year, but some of the same discipline will be applied.
After California, I’ll be giving two talks in London and Cambridge which largely trade on work I’ve previously delivered, so there shouldn’t be much new preparation for either. The first lecture which will require substantial new work is at Justus-Liebig-Universität in Gießen in December. The work for this will feed into a workshop there, and some events in early 2017 – a British Library discussion for their new Maps exhibition; a lecture at the Institute of Advanced Study in Durham; the London Review of International Law lecture; and a trip to the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
I’ve recently agreed to give talks to the Kingston Shakespeare Seminar at the Rose theatre, and the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London early in 2017. The first talk will draw on the Shakespeare manuscript, possibly the chapter on measuring and techniques; and the second will be on Foucault. I’ve got another trip to Paris to work on the Foucault archive in early December, so I may have some new material to discuss there. I’ll see where I am at Christmas.