Here I am at midnight trying to sort out tomorrow's two face-to-face seminars. Not because I'm slack and always do my homework the night before, but because it took most of last week to do last week's teaching and record/edit/post the lectures for this week's class (favourite moment: when the automatic subtitles got closer than usual and claimed that Angela Carter wrote The Sardine Woman - if only she had).
Tomorrow sees me exploring anthropomorphism in the Children's Lit class, and popular engagements with politics in the other one, using the Doctor Who episode 'Oxygen' (serviceable but not the best) as the primary material. I published a journal article comparing old Who with Star Trek using a Foucauldian angle once. I thought it was pretty good but the REF reviewer judged it insufficiently critical of Foucault to be worthwhile. Which wasn't the point, but never mind.
Despite the best efforts of the university and even me, the students are disappearing both from the face-to-face classes and the online ones, while the pre-recorded lectures are going unwatched by most. Some of it is for very good specific reasons, other people are struggling with the pandemic, and the small minority who wouldn't have put in any effort under normal circumstances have seen no reason to change their ways now. Last week saw the return of the 'value for money' objection to what we're doing…only slightly undercut – not that he saw it that way – by the admission that the student hadn't bothered reading any of the primary texts assigned for any modules. I try to see the best in everyone especially in trying times, but the paying-customer mentality tests me sorely. Especially as the live contact time here is exactly the same as it was before The 'Rona. I'm so old and boring that I use the analogy of the gym membership: you don't get fit simply by joining the gym and watching other people exercise (the gym on the retail park in town had panoramic windows. Quite often you'd see McDonald's customers munching burgers while staring in at the serried ranks of people on exercise bikes staring out at them. I like to think both sets of people got something out of the encounter).
There has been a bright spot in the last week. Following the Tories' tone-deaf defence of their decision to subsidise arms manufacturers and the like while letting children go hungry, some visited the office of my sinister and dishonest MP to engage in a spot of public shaming (the old ceffyl pren as it's known in Wales). Sadly he won't see it because while he insists that everyone should be back at work, he exempts himself.
Anyway, here are a couple of photos from what was my last visit to the ephemera museum The Land of Lost Content back in 2015. I like them because they're disturbing on a number of levels.