At an Independence Day party yesterday, some of my parents’ friends were asking me how I was spending my summer. “Do you get the summers off?” one well-meaning friend inquired. It made me realize to those outside the academy, it might appear that professors and students have a few months off from school, since they are mostly not going into the office.
To give an idea of what an academic spends the summer doing, here is a sample of my activities:
– I am taking one class about consumer culture, which has me doing some dissertation related research, as well as ethnographic research and reading. It’s nice to be in the classroom and keep myself focused.
– I am working on a preliminary literature review for my dissertation. Not only does that include writing, but also reading and understanding new texts.
– I am fortunate enough to be writing three articles for an online scholarly encyclopedia, which will not only give me experience doing so, but also provide a few publication credits. I will be writing about youth television, celtic youth groups, and Catholic schools.
– I am preparing to teach a new class (for me) in the fall, so I have spent the summer choosing texts, creating a syllabus, and making lesson plans.
– Finally, I am the president of our student association, so the other officers and I have been meeting to discuss conferences and other activities for the club this year. We have a lot of fun things in the works, both academic and social.
So, I might not be going into the office, but I am certainly not “off” for the summer. I do get to spend significantly more time with my family and friends, and I have found time to recharge, but my mind is never far from the work I’m doing.