The relationship between time, money, and work is a messy one for academics. We work at home on a Saturday morning to bring something to published form, unpaid, two years from now, in part (an unquantifiable part) because to do so may lead us toward receiving a paycheck, or will justify another one. We still dream, relatively realistically, of the single career-long job, and of productivity, even greater productivity, beyond retirement. Our working lives are shielded somewhat from the direct influences of time and money, but we are hardly immune. In Mr. Palomar, Italo Calvino writes, "he is lucky... he can say he is working in places and attitudes that would suggest complete repose; or, rather, he suffers this handicap: he feels obliged never to stop working, even when lying under the trees on an August morning..."
At CHESS, 57 people gathered in a classroom at 8:30 on a Saturday morning to hear a roundtable. In the afternoon, they interrupted a good walk in the Gatineau hills by stopping to hear about the area's history. Are we Mr. Palomars, then? Perhaps. But I think what CHESS does is provide students and faculty with an environment where they don't have to think about time, money, and work in the same way they do the other days of the year. When you're walking through the woods talking to a senior scholar about your thesis while shooing away bugs, there are not the performative or networking anxieties associated with a conference. When everyone's eating together and your meal has been paid, you don't have to break down into socioeconomic groups. When the goal is not immediate lines on the CV, but perhaps collaboration or just mention in Acknowledgements down the road, there is the luxury to think. The trick is always to create a situation relaxed enough to encourage such fresh interaction, and yet structured enough to get everyone engaged, if only to give them shared talking points with which to launch a conversation. It doesn't always work and it didn't always work in Ottawa, but there were some 'perfect moments.' And scholars would do better to strive for occasional perfection than unremitting competence.
(This list is automatically generated)
Submission Guidelines | Logo Usage | Project Support | NiCHE Forms
© 2005-2013 NiCHE. To send comments to the webmaster Click here.