Oh, the irony: at roughly the same moment that I was calling somone out in the Invisible Adjunct’s comments for what I took to be the implicit suggestion that professors at small liberal arts colleges exist in an intellectual backwater (a suggestion implicit, I think, in the assumption that such SLAC profs are able to take a more leisurely approach to research because we aren’t held to the same tenure standards as those at research institutions), I was being called out over at making contact for having made what seem like precisely the same suggestions about faculty whose 4-4 (and worse) loads make “the act of producing scholarship” one precariously squeezed into an insanely full schedule.
As I admit in my mea culpa in Cindy’s comments, this blind spot, I think, says more about my own concerns about the locus of scholarly production than anything; I never meant to suggest that only the writing of books or articles could keep one sufficiently alive intellectually to warrant one’s continued presence in the classroom. Cindy points out that the many regular and contingent faculty members whose labor makes the existence of the rock-stars possible nonetheless “[find] the time to read the journals in our disciplines, chat with each other about our pedagogy and the content of our fields, and continually refine what we are doing in our classrooms.” And of course, she’s absolutely right.
This slip of mine really gives me pause. The origin of my equation of scholarly work and scholarly production is internal, and has everything to do with anxieties about the role of such work in my own life: I had to remind myself all the way through writing my dissertation — and still have to remind myself, as I’m doing research — that reading, and talking, and listening, and thinking, are important forms of knowledge-production, despite the fact that not all of this work resulted in writing.
And thus the question gets raised yet again, in another form, of what counts as work in academic lives, what we claim to value versus what we actually reward.