Sabbaticalling

You hear that? It’s the yawning chasm of time opening up in front of me. You smell that? Fear.

So I’ve been granted a sabbatical by my department from Sheffield Hallam University (have I ever told you how bloody great those guys are?) for this semester, but as it bleeds into the summer holidays, practically I have no teaching commitments until September. This is a departure for our department, as it’s the first academic year they’ve run them, and so there’s a little pressure to make the most of it, to ensure colleagues get the opportunity in the future. But I’m a willing guinea pig. (To be fair, I’ll probably just try and copy what Les Back did).

So the marking finished on Tuesday and so technically I’ve begun. At the risk of becoming a hostage to fortune, and at the risk of giving everything away on here and you all stealing my stunning academic ideas, I’ve decided to try and blog a bit more. This’ll be both about what I’m doing, rather than keep it secret until the research comes out, but also about how the process is going. Having this much time and freedom is like going back to the PhD.

During the PhD I’d have amazing 15,000 word weeks, and amazing four series of The Wire weeks (I honestly believe that both were vital to me completing in three years with minors). But seven months can start to feel smaller very quickly. A colleague who sabbaticaled last term said it took her two weeks to clear her head and figure out a plan. Well in the two days I’ve been doing it so far I’ve finished the first draft of a journal article on volunteering and neoliberalism which had been stagnant for months. Is that a major achievement, or a rush job? I’ve farmed it out to warm colleagues for vile, critical feedback.

What else? Well:

  • I have the BSA conference in April to plan for, by which time I want a workable article-length draft of the research I’ll be presenting on. It continues experiments with qualitative methods where colleagues and I each analysed Desert Island Discs and came together to understand our differing interpretations. A journal article on this to follow.
  • Three (three!) other conference applications which I haven’t heard back from yet, which will help order my time quite well as all will require papers and/or presentations.
  • An article on informal volunteering that has sat unloved for years which I want to get on with.
  • A revise and resubmit which I currently can’t tell if it’s a lot of work or not, but would be great to get published as it features an interview with a friend who died recently.
  • The proofing and revision of three papers which have been accepted, and will need the various prodding and annoying of publishers, and then blogging and promoting.
  • And finally the whole reason I got the sabbatical in the first place is working up a book proposal about reflexivity and biography in research methods. This is the one that’ll need a lot of time and thought, so I’m thinking of devoting the last three months to it. But I’m prepared to randomly run off, spend a fortnight in the library and get on with it at any point.

Is this list a hostage to fortune? Is it showing off? Possibly both, possibly neither. But putting it down on paper (the internet’s made of paper right?) will help me assess where I am, as, while I pretend to be all cool and relaxed, I am actually the most clearly and annoyingly organised person I know at work.

Also spending the sabb in London gives me plenty opportunity to attend fun events, like the LSE public events, the recent Guy Standing event at Goldsmiths, or the recent changes in volunteering event at NCVO.

4 new articles.

4 conference presentations.

And a book proposal?

Where’s that box set of The Wire?

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