How I spent my summer vacation

My summer came to an abrupt end on Monday, when Shimer College held its annual all-staff meeting — which was followed by two days of faculty meetings. In this brief window before classes start up next week, it seemed appropriate to reflect on this past summer, which was one of the most intellectually fruitful of my life. The main feature was a faculty seminar at the University of Chicago, hosted by Eric Santner under the auspices of DAAD. I spent the weeks leading up to it reading a huge amount of Marx and Freud in German, and the Freud reading continued, to the point where it took on nearly addictive qualities.

The seminar was very fruitful in a lot of ways — getting to see how a senior scholar thinks through his next writing project, seeing what my peers were working on, getting to present my work to a diverse interdisciplinary audience — but for me the biggest benefit by far was being induced to carry out a sustained, intensive study of Freud. This in turn proved surprisingly helpful for formulating my devil project, as well as the final volume of my pop culture trilogy, Creepiness. In the weeks after the seminar, I wrote a draft introduction for both projects. Both will require significant revision, but it felt amazing to get a concrete start on both after talking about them for such a long time. I hope to be able to finish Creepiness over the course of the school year and write at least one further chapter of the devil book to set myself up for next summer.

Two other notable achievements: I rewatched all of Mad Men (including the most recent season) and I finally bought a much-needed bookshelf and imposed some kind of order on my books for the first time in over three years. We also took a trip to St. Louis, where we thoroughly explored the City Museum with all the gusto of young children — and all the muscle soreness of old people.

Now I’m finishing up on my preparations for my long-planned elective on Heidegger’s Being and Time (PDF syllabus) and for Humanities 1: Art and Music (PDF syllabus). I plan to put my newly refurbished German skills to use reading Sein und Zeit alongsideside my course and to use Hum 1 as a pretext to make more visits to the Art Institute, the symphony, and the opera.

What about you, dear readers? How did you spend your summer vacations?

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3 Responses to “How I spent my summer vacation”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    This summer was productive. I edited my dissertation with the help of an analyst and resubmitted it to a psychoanalytic journal. I submitted a piece to a journal with a friend on awkwardness and group dynamics which I developed on the blog. More recently I’ve been preparing a conference paper on trauma and schizophrenia. In terms of reading, I made way through Winnicott’s primary works which was stimulating. I also read Peter Gay’s excellent Freud biography. In terms of travel, I visited both Chicago and Seattle. Looking forward to completing my degree and beginning my postdoc after Labor Day.

  2. Kampen Says:

    I spent most of my time doing coursework, reading and writing. I presented a paper at a conference in Belgrade on heresiology and the epistemological violence of Western Christianity on Native/Aboriginal Theology. I travelled to a few Indigenous communities in Manitoba. Now I’m finishing up the coursework and starting to work on the thesis proposal.

  3. Dave Says:

    I spent a significant portion of my summer drinking alcohol, while moonlighting with some academic activities. I did some research at the Kierkegaard library in Minnesota during the month of June, and also attended the 7th international conference there. Then I read a lot of Schelling in preparation for co-organizing the first ever Pittsburgh summer school in contemporary philosophy on Schelling’s Naturphilosophie (http://pghsummersymposium.wix.com/pghsummersymp2013). I got to see a few book reviews through to publication, but procrastinated two things I really hoped to do: edit an article on Marx and submit it for publication, and read Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers.

    I suppose there’s still a chance to do the latter, as I’m jetsetting to Denmark/Belgium for the end of the summer, so I’ll have two long flights and plenty of down time at the airports. It was a good summer, I think, but I spent almost all of it living out of a suitcase (even in my home town), so it’s starting to wear on me and I’m ready for the structure of another fall semester to set in.


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