Monday, October 3, 2011

Balancing Teaching, Research, and Writing (Dr. Karen Robbins)

Hi everyone. Professor Marinari has asked me to contribute to this blog, telling you about my recent experiences professionally. As many of you know, it is one of our goals as your professors to help our disciplines further themselves, and that is generally translated as doing publishing of articles and books in reputable presses. Our department is very active in this area, and I am currently trying to publish a book I’ve been working on for a long time, as well as start a new book length project. Unless one is an established, well-published scholar, it can take time to find a good press to accept one’s work.

Recently, my publishing life seems to be on the upswing. The University of Georgia Press is considering my book. A good press sends one’s manuscript to anonymous, scholarly readers, which they have done. One reader suggested changes, most of which I have made, and the press has now sent it back to her/him for their reaction. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I am turning blue from holding my breath. It does happen that publishers reject a book and then the author needs to try another press.In the meantime, I have begun another project, one I have been thinking about for a few years. I have begun to study the masculinity of George Washington. Mind you, I do not question that he was masculine – he was, after all, the father of our country – but I am asking questions like what were the influences on him and the choices he made that turned him in a paragon of masculine virtue. I am still in the very early stages of research, but I did give a paper at the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) this summer, which is the pre-eminent organization in my field. I spoke about some of the influences on Washington the sixteen-year old. Happily, this was very well-received. People asked for copies of my paper, an editor at The Papers of George Washington gave me his card and indicated that we need to talk as he has interesting documents for me to look at. Also, a senior editor at New York University Press has indicated that they would be very interested in publishing the work when I am done. So, it was a great conference for me, and I am still on cloud nine. Now I just need to find the time to research!!

While I was at the conference, I was happy to reunite with an alum of our department, Rachel Engl, who is doing graduate work at Lehigh University. She and her husband are doing quite well, and they honeymooned on an island where George Washington stayed while he had smallpox (he was companion to his older brother who was terminally ill with tuberculosis). They saw a real “George Washington stayed here” room!

Perhaps your future travels will result in equal tales to tell!

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