Have you ever been working on something for so long and so hard that eventually the result simply feels like a dream? Dreamt about something enough and, when it becomes a reality, you feel as though you’ve fallen asleep in class rather than brought the castle down from its cloud?
To make any claim other than I feel like I’ve been wandering the land of Oz for the past month and a half would be an outright lie. I’m not in Kansas anymore and, while Jerry may not be Toto, he is rather fuzzy.
This week, two things happened which worked to either cement the Oz fantasy or prove to
me that yes, this is really happening, and I am exactly where I’ve pictured myself for so very long.
Thing number one: I wrote (or rather co-wrote) and submitted a course application to the experimental college at Tufts. This included drafting my own syllabus. I selected books. I assigned readings. I thought about pacing and assignments and grading! I even went through and tried to pick my favorite edition of Shakespeare (it’s like picking a favorite child for me… I kind of collect Complete Works). And at the end of it, there it was, my name at the top of the syllabus listed as “instructor”.
Well that’s a rush.
At this point in my life, syllabi have become more than pieces of paper; they are a way of life. My first syllabus was gifted to me my Senior year of high school by my humanities instructor (a certain Susan Sabatino at the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City…. Yea, I went to the fame school. Yea, it was kind of exactly like the movie. Yea, I have some stories to tell…). This is perhaps made more poignant by the fact that my partner in crime for this endeavor is an individual whom I roamed those hallowed halls with. But I digress.
When Ms. Sab passed the syllabus out that first day of class, she said “this bit of paper is worth its weight in gold. No, not gold, platinum.”
And thus my relationship with the syllabus began. I don’t think one can possibly understand the impact that those little bits of paper can have on one’s life. At first they seem odd; assignments? Due dates? A plan for the ENTIRE SEMESTER? What is this? Eventually, though, one begins to love the syllabus. It dictates one’s schedule for the week, month, year. It lovingly reminds one of course expectations in one’s hour of need. It benevolently smiles down at one from on high with vital information about office hours, contact information, and due dates. It holds the answers to the questions that govern one’s existence like “do I ever catch a break?” and “what week can I plan to sleep in a little bit?”
As one proceeds into one’s higher education, one lives by the syllabus and dies by the syllabus. A lifeline. A sword. A shield. Everything one needed to know about class but was too afraid to ask. The gatekeeper. The keymaster.
Those stone tablets sent from on high brought down by a holy messenger anointed by the Glorious one.
But oh look how those tables have turned.
In writing a syllabus, we were inscribing the tablets. We were creating destiny. We were being deified.
As I printed the applications (including these diagrams of the future), I couldn’t help but be elated. This was, perhaps, real. I had, perhaps, arrived.
…or maybe I was just with the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road.
So my printer needs a vacation in the Bahamas for its service this past week (five copies of an application plus all sundry materials… each application ran about 20 pages… my poor baby). But… it’s done. And I am so very excited.
Thing number two: I received my first ever review copy of a scholarly book of which I shall be writing a review sometime in the next few months which will (gods willing) be published! Words cannot express my jubilation. No, seriously, every time I try I wind up devolving into some high-pitched girly squealing of exhilaration and jumping around a little bit.
I don’t want to say too much about the book, or about the journal (you know, in case things don’t work out or something), but I will say this: Shakespeare (that’s kind of a duh for me). The book (or books, rather, it will be a double review) are about Shakespeare. They’re both new, interesting, and engaging scholarship. One is probably more in line with my specific research interests than the other, but I am open, willing, and ready, to love both of them. There is space in my heart (and on my bookshelves) for anything that doesn’t grind my man Will into the dust (Oxfordians, you have no power here, be gone before someone drops a house on you).