This year, I was promoted with tenure at my university. Many tenured colleagues had warned me that "a change" would occur around this time. I remember one medievalist at another institution proclaiming, "the summer you receive tenure, you will enter a deep, dark depression." I don't know if that's happened (can any sadness be traced to a single source in 2018?), but I can say for sure that this milestone has caused me to do a lot of thinking about the state of the university, the state of my field, and the next few years of my own research work. All this thinking left me wondering, what am I about as a scholar?
I phrase it this way because I know lots of people who leave little uncertainty about what they are about. I think of Claire Bourne, for instance, or Adam Hooks. I think of Erika Lin and Whitney Trettien and Brett Greatley-Hirsch. I'm constantly impressed at the way these great scholars and friends have established a clear sense of what they are about. I'm not sure I have the same kind of focus. So, for whatever they're worth, here are some thoughts I recently composed as I thought over this question:
What am I about as a scholar?
In terms of theory and literary critical methodology, what am I about?
What do I want to accomplish in the next five years?