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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


The Phoney War

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This past week has to be the strangest of the academic year. My formal teaching essentially finished last weekend, with students departing my room with a look of delayed recognition in their eyes: this really is it, no more teaching and learning, just solipsistic revision and the terror of exams. For me, however, the week represents something of a breather, or more accurately the calm before the storm. Sure the emails ping in, usually trying to clarify the examination rubric, as if in the desperate hope of finding some loophole that will make the exam easier. For the most part, though, my work here is done. No more teaching to prepare. No marking backlog to clear.

However, come next week, invigilation begins, and then the exam scripts will fly in with a ridiculously short turnaround time. I will have seven half-days (because of my other work commitments and inviligation) to mark 75 exam scripts - and that's a comparatively light workload compared to some.

This week just past, then, is a bit like the phoney war. One senses imminent battles with time ahead, but for the moment things are strangely quiet. I try and get things done - namely cleaning the house - because I know that I will have no time from next week onwards. But at a time when students are working harder than ever, I feel generally apathetic. I should be using this time to sneak in a bit of research, maybe read a couple of the books I have to review. But I simply can't be bothered, because I know that what happens next is going to see me back into the horror of a sixty hour week. The only thing keeping me bright at the moment is June 11th: all teaching done, and a World Cup to look forward to.

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Posted by Alistair at 4:30 pm

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