We’ve suffered a series of losses in my department this semester, and are about to find ourselves in a very different department, come fall. I’ll put it this way: as of Spring 2006, there were four women in the department who were senior to me. Three of them are leaving the college — our much-adored Shakespearean is retiring, our Dickinsonian is headed off to chair a big R1 department, and our all-purpose Americanist, who has been serving as associate dean for the last three years, has been named dean of a quite great small liberal arts college on the other coast. Suddenly, in our department of fifteen, there are only (depending on how you look at it) four or five folks more senior than I, and only one woman who’s been here longer than me.
There’s something vertiginous about this shift in the department’s center of gravity; I never, ever expected to be this senior this soon. I keep telling myself, however, that this is a moment ripe with possibility, in which our department might remake itself into something dramatically new, something that can energize all of us intellectually.
And then there’s the offices. Offices in our department have always been assigned following a slightly morphed version of seniority, one based less on rank than on length of time served within the department. By that standard, I’m the fourth most senior person actually resident in the department (the one female colleague who is senior to me is a college administrator, and so is housed elsewhere), and so, as offices were being reassigned, I expected to find myself in slightly larger digs.
What I did not expect, not at all, was to find myself in the office of the eminent Shakespearean, a gorgeous, massive office on the upper southwest corner of the building.
As it turns out, I was right not to expect it; the colleague who is immediately senior to me should have been given this office (and did request it), but a communications snafu resulted in me moving in here before the mistake was discovered. After a little negotiating, we’ve decided that, for this year at least, he’ll move into the office of the Dickinsonian, on the downstairs northwest corner, and next year we’ll check in with one another to see if he wants to switch places.
So I’m trying to strike a balance between reveling in my glorious new abode and maintaining a position of non-attachment, so as not to be disappointed if I don’t stay here. This post constitutes a bit of reveling. As does the phenomenal amount of work I’ve gotten done in the last week. Now back to non-attachment, and to work.