I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Monday, July 29, 2013

First snag

OK, so after that bold announcement on Saturday about applying for another grant, I'm now wondering if I have rocks in my head!

Over the life of the Centre of Excellence, I have been given half-time teaching relief.  I decided last year to put all my teaching in one semester, so as to leave first semester free, in part for my actual study leave away from the university this year. With all the various other permutations of workload points, etc. this means I have a very manageable load this semester: a two-hour honours seminar on Tuesday morning, and a 90 minute lecture for third year students on Tuesday afternoon. OK, it would have been easier not to have these on the same day, but we have almost no control over subject timetabling.

It was also my plan to finish most of my various writing commitments by the end of June, so as to leave July free for preparation, and then the semester free(ish) for teaching itself.

However, I have only just finished my latest round of revisions on Medievalism and its Discontents  and sent it back to Tom on Saturday; I have another essay that my research assistant is doing final formatting on for Holly and Glenn; and there are two revise and resubmits (for Noah, and for Tom) that are due in two weeks at the latest. There's another essay (for Charles) whose deadline is approaching, too.

July turned out to be a big month for the Melbourne hub of the centre. We had our Middle English study day, a Sense, Sentiment and Compassion day, and a two day conference on Genre, Affect and Authority in early modern England. We have a couple of visitors at the moment, too. All fantastic!  but lots of events.

Then we are also helping run a series of seminars at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, around the work of David Rosetzky. I am giving a little talk there next week and am supposed to have my powerpoint ready for them a week early.

And the weekend to come is full of lovely family visits. And so early nights and good sleeping are called for. Trouble is, I was so beset by anxiety last night about all these commitments I had trouble sleeping, so the thought of another big grant to apply for and manage seems very daunting indeed right now.

Just a few more deep breaths ...  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two grants: One

Wow, it's been so long since I posted I had to think quite hard about how to log in.

But here I am again, with a New Idea.

I began this blog in 2006 when I was applying for a big grant and was also a grant "shepherd" for my school. I thought I would lead by example and track the progress of applying for that grant in blog form.

Much has happened since then. The blog was almost immediately derailed with my breast cancer diagnosis, and became a very different kind of blog quite quickly. My team did eventually get our grant and I am about to submit the final report after its very happy and productive four year term.

Cancer, its treatment and afterlife has come and almost gone. (I'm in great health; have six monthly checkups; am taking no medication; and suffering only very minor side-effects from treatment.) My son, who was finishing primary school when I was diagnosed, is now at university. (Excuse me blinking while those six years of secondary school went by in a flash!)

And I have another huge grant. And am applying for another one.

Which brings me back to the blog. My current plan is to run two threads on this blog.  The first will be a space to think about my role in the grant I have: I am one of ten lead researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. We are in the third of seven years and things are extremely busy. I'm in a different building from the rest of my colleagues in English; I'm surrounded by full-time researchers and a dedicated administrative and outreach team; I'm strongly networked to four other universities in Australia; and life is a constant round of astonishing visitors, study days, conferences, meetings. I have a half-time teaching load, and will be teaching two subjects this semester, starting next Tuesday.

But I am also going to apply for another grant. The lead time is long. I won't know if I've been successful for another twelve months; and I won't submit the final application till January next year. There is a part of me that wants to keep this application as private as possible. Because, you know, of the fear of public failure, etc. etc. But motivated by the same spirit in which I began this blog — and also kept it going when I got sick —I'm just going to write about it here anyway, pour encourager les autres. 

Grant culture in Australia is pretty tough. It's usually a condition of employment, confirmation, etc. that one applies for external grants, and having one at the right time can make a huge difference to employment and promotion prospects. Most schemes have around a 22% success rate. The scheme I'm applying for has an even lower rate. I'm hoping for several things: to enhance my own chances of success by blogging about my research idea and plans as a means of clarifying my own aims to myself; and making the blog itself part of the application, perhaps. I'm also hoping folk in the humanities might find it useful to see how the process of writing, thinking, revising, sharing and getting feedback works.

Thinking about how my current grant works is also part of the same process, as grant management is, I think, crucial to research success.

And in answer to your question about whether it's greedy to be applying for a big grant when I already have one, the simple answer is that it's my school's and faculty's policy that senior staff should certainly be applying for a second grant. Another simple answer is that this new grant would provide employment for some early career researchers. A third is that I really want to do the research, and it doesn't fit within the current research centre. If I got it, moreover, then a teaching position would open up for a medieval scholar (if only part-time and short-term) in my department, and then there would be another medieval colleague at Melbourne!

So I'm going to run two threads. This idea came to me while I went for a 10k run along the Merri Creek and the Yarra river in bright windy wintry sunshine. I may need to go for another run to think about the nifty titles for those two threads...