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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


June Blues

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mid-June is the time of the academic year that I most dread. Which is odd, given that May is perhaps the busiest period of all, with revision classes to teach, a final batch of essays to mark, exams to invigilate and mark. Not to mention that I had a book chapter to write, a report for a research institute to finalise, and READ to establish and develop.

People sometimes ask me how I manage my time across all my jobs (six, at the last count). The answer is, I don't really. I sit down at my desk at eight in the morning. I do what I can through to at least eight at night. I repeat for five days of the working week, and put in several hours across the weekend as well. And I keep my fingers crossed that this will be enough to get things done. Usually, somehow, it is.

With all the urgent stress of the teaching year behind me, then, June should bring a warm (well, perhaps soggy) glow of relief as the pace slackens off. Yet, perversely, I find it more of a struggle precisely because I do now have a working week to manage, as opposed to simply bullying through and hoping for the best.

I still have plenty to do over the coming couple of months. My AA100 OU course rumbles on. I have 20 000 words of my textbook on modernism to write by the end of July. I need to get at least one article written. Yet getting motivated to do any of these things is a problem. When I do not have time to spare I do not have a choice: I simply have to get on with it. But now that I do have some slack, I feel like putting everything off.

Of course, as @DrCJWalters kindly reminded me on Twitter, it is fine to chill out after the strains of nine months. Yet time off should also be properly structured - actual relaxation, not time at home but, well the laptop's on anyway so I might as well mark an essay. But instead of planning both to work hard and to play hard, I end up dithering somewhere between the two. I settle down to read, then suddenly find I'm playing minesweeper. I plan to write, and end up Twittering. And then I head off for a weekend away and feel guilty because I've not put in a hard shift all week.

With no manager prodding me to work, and with the workload itself not incessantly and uncontrollably driving me on, I amble slowly forward through June, July, September until the academic year starts again. I must try and plan this summer's activities to be more structured. But I'd be interested to hear if anyone else suffers the same plight, and if so what you do about it. How do you combat the academic June blues?

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Posted by Alistair at 9:37 pm

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