Wednesday, June 6, 2007

One Pile in Particular

Okay. Here's something that you guys might be able to help me out with. I've begun plowing through the mountains of papers, notebooks, and so forth, and I'm facing several conundra. Some of this stuff I've moved from place to place for, well, ten years at least, and it's dawning on me that I might not need it. Some is more recent and more obviously related to My Field. So here's the question.

What should I do with the following things?
  1. Old issues of professional journals, such as Speculum and PMLA. On the one hand I think that I should keep these. I want to keep them. They make me feel like a scholar, they're nicely bound, they're somewhat expensive, and they might (might) come in handy some day. On the other hand, they take up a ridiculous amount of space. I can see keeping them all very happily if I could store them in, say, an office which I planned to use for the next 30 years or so, but at this point--? What do you do with these things?
  2. Notebooks from grad school. Specifically, notebooks with teaching notes from courses I've TA'd, as I've essentially decided to scrap my course notes unless they're directly in my area of specialization (Marxist Theory, for example, while interesting, is unlikely to be noticeable in its absence. And were my notes really that good?). But there might be a chance I'll teach, I dunno, Ibsen again, and maybe the stuff I came up with the night before section back in 2001 was really profound? Maybe? Any chance, any chance at all?
  3. Notebooks from college. I actually only have one of these still kicking around, but it contains all of my notes from my senior year, somehow (I apparently didn't take many notes). Its potential value, however, is not scholarly so much as sentimental. It's full of drawings and doodles and sarcastic comments and fragments of fiction, as well as quotes that I liked. So...I might keep this, even though I'm unlikely to look at it again. Well, I do look at it every time I move, but that's about it. Oh well. It's one notebook, after all.
  4. Notebooks from (yes, I admit it) high school. In my high school English classes--which were excellent; it was one of the best HS English departments in the nation--we kept these elaborate reading journals in which we responded to discussion questions, did close readings of passages, and the like. I think I only have two of these (both composition books, so fairly small). I'm not sure why I'm keeping them, other than that it never occurred to me until tonight that I could throw them away. The scholarly value, again, is pretty much nonexistent. But might they help me to think about how to teach close reading and composition? I kind of wish I'd kept the assignments, too, but that would have been pretty weird. Anyway. Value or no value?
So what say you? The pile of Paper To Recycle grows higher, and higher still. Ever higher, I say! Higher and higher, onward and upward! Et cetera!

The glory!


Sisyphus said...

The PMLAs should go. (And they do: look around your offices whenever grad students leave or faculty retire; you'll see big piles of them with the label "Free!" or a massive dump in the recycling pile.) PMLAs are online now anyway. Is Speculum? you might want to toss them too.

Now, the notebooks and especially any paper prompts or handouts you got from teachers will be useful, I think. Besides sentimental value, I go through mine for ideas and to see how other teachers set up their teaching (to remind me how I was taught and to reflect on my own pedagogy that way) and also, to get me back in the way of thinking of a young, smartass whippersnapper who didn't know much ---- keep me in touch with the students I teach. And unlike PMLA, if you junk those, there's no way of getting it back.

And yesterday I had a comment that all your spoons have turned up at my place, along with your white socks, but the comment-machine seems to have eaten it.

heu mihi said...

Thanks, sisyphus! The PNLAs are out. And God they're heavy.

Good call on the notebooks (I'm assuming we're talking undergrad/HS notebooks, here). Since they are few, I'll keep them. The high school ones will be good, I think, because my junior and senior English classes were really a lot like college freshman courses--I was at a HUGE advantage when I got to college--and so it could be useful to go back and see what kind of assignments we had, what my writing was like, etc. And yes: the sarcastic teen factor should not be forgotten.

So that's where my spoons went! Seriously, I have like no silverware. It's a good thing that I live alone. The sock problem is different--I have plenty of socks, but they've each been mended at least three times and still have gaping holes. I really need to throw them all away and start over.

medieval woman said...

I say keep the Speculums and pitch the PMLAs (which it sounds like you've already done). You can put the Speculums in a box until you have a permanent office.

Good luck on everything! I ended up throwing away teaching notes on anything that wasn't medieval or early modern...

squadratomagico said...

Many libraries have access to JSTOR, which will have issues of journals like Speculum from five years ago on back. If I were moving, I'd probably go through my journals and keep issues containing articles that I really admired, then pitch the rest. Actually, I sort of srot things that way already: journal issues with articles that are relevant to my research interests go on the shelf next to books on that topic -- and I'll usually write a little note on the spine indicating what article is inside. Journal issues with not-immediately-useful contents go in sequence with all their brothers and sisters.

heu mihi said...

Believe it or not, VSLAC doesn't have JSTOR. I don't know how I'm going to cope! But I think the Specula will go into storage, since I feel that possessing them is an integral part of my scholarly identity. (Ah, insecurity.)

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Seriously, keep the Specula till you have a permanent job with access to JSTOR. SLAC doesn't have JSTOR, and our library sucks like a hoover.

I have lots of notes and class syllabi -- and I use them. Not necessarily for the info, but to keep my head solidly into what kinds of things I was expected to learn in different levels of courses -- and what things the faculty I most admired thought important.

heu mihi said...

Good idea, ADM. I'm currently having a pretty hard time remembering how much undergrads can be expected to read in a week; going back to look at old syllabi is a great idea. Thanks!

(And the Specula are staying. They also look so pretty, all in a row....)