Identity and the Sexy Research Topic

I've been struggling to put together my final syllabus for the term.

Way back when I was writing my dissertation, I stumbled onto a topic that let me deal with the theory I wanted to and the way of viewing making sense of my field that works best for me that had a certain bit of sexiness to it. Of course, the way these things work is that to a large subset of people who've come into academic contact with me (doesn't that sound like we're talking about a virus vector? Ugh.) are most inclined to thinking of me in terms of that sexy topic rather than in terms of the theory or the way I make sense of my field.

Teaching this course - about the sexy topic - is one outcome of that. Of course, I've forced a couple of weeks of all the stuff I feel a bit more identified with, but there's still a question: which of these things do I really want to be?

It would help, of course, if the last time I'd taught this course it had gone well. It wasn't a disaster - certainly not like That One Course My First Term that actually once made me think about quitting or driving off a bridge or something else reasonably drastic. But it was an absolute slog. Some of the problems have been addressed by the new job, to be sure, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'm more than a little gun-shy at this point. And I do like a challenge now and again.

But I do wonder if all this angst about the sexy topic isn't a battle between biting the hand that feeds me. Still, I do wonder.


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