A don's inbox
I often think that the blog headlines makes my job look rather different from the (hugely rewarding) day to day reality of university teaching. I cant talk to you about what my students said in their supervisions (at least they would be understandably very angry if I did). So we tend to drift to the foreign trips, the big lectures .. and all the stuff that is NOT really the 'day job'.
A couple of years ago I shared a day's emails to try to rectify this a bit. And I am going to try it again. What follows is a list of emails received in the 24 hours between yesterday morning and this morning. I have omitted the 50 something that were mere adverts (British Airways, ASOS etc), or simply circulars (like the nice regular messages from the Danish Embassy), or alerts from Twitter, or clearly spam escaping the filter (like the nice hint that I might have inherited a few million from an intestate Mr Beard in Kenya).
So this is what we have.. a Don's (real) Life!
It was a light day - the last day of term, so none of those irritating messages inviting me to next week's seminar I can't go to anyway (you have been spared!...does anyone ever read an email headed -- as these always are -- "apologies for cross-posting"?).
This is the list:
1. From daughter, re her plans for returning from South Sudan for Christmas..
2. A "a not in the office email" from someone I had just sent a job reference off to.
3. Overdue book from Newnham library - reminder...
4. Accountant reminding me about tax return.
5. Supervisor of one of my undergraduate students, acknowledging my thanks for his very helpful report on her work this term.
6. From colleague in Oxford, whom I had emailed -- to say that one of my students (same as in 5) was considering a Masters course there, and she would be emailing him.
7. Message about book to be considered for Cambridge series of which I am an editor.
8. From Profile Books, thanking me for details about my recent New York lecture.
9. From daughter again, now in Gogrial, S Sudan.
10. Message from Cambridge e-cops (the local email police service) reminding me of the precautions I should be taking if I go away at Christmas:
"Once more we would like to remind you about the measures you could take before leaving your house
empty while going Christmas shopping or visiting your relatives in another part of England or perhaps the World."
The charming side of the nanny state.
11. Confirmation from a colleague that he can take my student for the Aeneid next term.
12.Request for a reference for a PhD candidate.
13.Nice message from a guy who enjoyed my Point of View programmes.
14. Confirmation that I can delay my first year PhD student's formal registration til January (as no one can do it pre Xmas).
15. Invitation to talk at a literary festival.
16. From a supervisor of one of my Newnham students.. he has submitted a report, but it hasn't appeared on the online system (others have.. something going wrong, and I am seeing the students one by one to discuss the reports on their work)
17.From tv about what we can (or cannot) film in Rome in December.
18.Reminder from the TLS that I haven't looked at a submitted article.
19. Response from tv.
20. Intervention from colleague about how we might do a Classics publicity event in the spring.
21.Message from Cambridge University Press, to say that a new book in the series I partly edit for them is out.
22. Message from Union (I'm a member) about strike and more.
23. Cv etc from student who wants a reference instantly.
24. Acknowledgement of reference for another student, received.
25. Email from an undergraduate. I had passed on to her very favourable comments from a supervisor. She is pleased.
26. Message from my co-Director of Studies at Newnham. She is happy to take on teaching one student I want her to. Agrees we should meet at the weekend to discuss applicants for next year.
27. From a colleague in the British Academy re. the lecture programme.
28. From US publisher, wanting my views on a submission.
29. Questions from a Brazilian journalist about the origins of Christmas.
30. Acknowledgement of another reference submitted.
31. Message from a mate who has agreed to take on a tough job re the up-coming REF (which I had asked him to do).
32. Photos from author of book in my Wonders of the World series.
33. Further to 26.. where shall we meet?
34. Arrangement to talk to REF friend at 8.30 am on Saturday.
35. PS to 34. Could also do the same time on Sunday.
36. Nice email from MPhil studemnt coming round to my place on Sunday: would I like white or red?
37. Agreed (re 36) that he will talk to the others.
38. Question from a Mum whose son is keen to do Ancient History, but doesnt have good A level grades. Could I advise? (I write back to ask just what the grades are.. then I can suggest.).
39. From a graduate student who would like to work with me in Cambridge.
40. Message from colleague, with suggestions (as I had asked) about who might supervise one of my undergraduates for a special subject next year.
41. From son. I had forgotten to take back from New York the present he had for his Dad (the husband).
42. Email from an undergraduate supervisor... I had asked him if he had submitted comments on the student's work to the online reporting system (CAMCORS). He had, but it had never got through. So he includes report for me to pass on to the student.
43.From graduate student who is sharimng the teaching of a final year undergraduate dissertatiuon with me.
44. Very nice email from College donor and alum, who has just made a further donation.
45. Proof from NYRB of the text version of the lecture I gave on Weds in New York. Already???
46. From another supervisor having trouble with the online system, but enclosing report on the student.
47. From assistant re forms to be submitted to NYC for tax examption.
48. Message to say that student I was second interviewing for another college on Monday has withdrawn.
49. More suggestions about British Academy lectures.
50. Request to translate a motto into Latin (I do these if simple, orherwise pass on to the local motto writer).
51. From daughter, planning for Christmas.
52. From MPhil student wanting advice on his next few months' scheme of work.
That is real life, as lived (and exposed) in email.