The wonderful Litlove has agreed to interview me — thank you! So here it is:
1. I love the way you write about the 18th century; it’s clear how much you appreciate that era. Can you put your finger on what it is about that age of literature that attracts you to it so much? Thank you! I made it through college without taking a course in the 18C and so got to grad school knowing little about it, except for a few things I read in surveys which didn’t interest me. But in grad school I needed a course in the area, and signed up for one called “Women and the Novel,” which covered the 18C century, plus a little bit of the 19C. We read The Princess of Cleves, Moll Flanders, Pamela, The Female Quixote, A Simple Story, Pride and Prejudice and others. I was captivated. I took another 18C novel course the next semester and liked it so much I decided to specialize in the area. So it’s really the novel that pulled me in; I love studying the beginning of the genre — what people wrote when a definition and theoretical understanding of the novel didn’t exist. The 18C feels like the beginning of a lot of things — the novel, biographies, newspapers, the ability of more and more people to make a living writing, contemporary ways of understanding the family, psychological ways of thinking, modern economic structures, and I could go on.
2. I feel I’ve learned so much about bike racing from your site. What made you take up the sport in the first place? Hobgoblin has a lot to with it — he’s the one who encouraged me to begin riding, and the one who picked out my first bike (my first adult bike, that is — I rode around the neighborhood a bit as a child). I got that bike in January, 2000, and I remember taking it out to the parking lot of the school where we taught at the time, which was a safe place where I could get used to being on a bike again away from traffic. It didn’t take me long to pick it up, and I rode regularly from then on, eventually joining a cycling club and going on training rides with a group a couple times a week. Cycling suits me, I think; in high school I was a runner, and I liked the training and the endurance work, but I couldn’t motivate myself to run without a coach making me do it. For me, cycling is more fun than running, so I don’t have to work as hard to get myself outside for a ride. As for what made me move from being a recreational rider to a racer: I got tired of being a spectator at races. It seemed to me that too often it was the men riding and the women watching, and I was annoyed to be such a stereotype. And since I was spending a lot of time at races already, I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to join in.
3. You’ve changed jobs not so long ago. Tell us what your average day at work is like now, and are you pleased you made the change? I’ve had two different jobs in the last year, but they are similar jobs at similar schools, so the real difference for me was leaving an administrative job last summer to move into the faculty positions I’ve had this year. I am very pleased I made the change. Working as an administrator was okay, and I was able to do some teaching in that job too, but I’m much happier focusing solely on teaching. I know this is a little self-indulgent of me, but I chafe at having to be in the office when there is no work to do, which is what happened in my administrative job. As a faculty member, as long as I show up for class and meetings, I can do my prep work and grading wherever and whenever I please. So — a typical day: I’ve been teaching in the mornings and, unless I have an afternoon meeting, taking time after class to come home and ride my bike. I prepare for class and grade when I’m not riding in the afternoons and on weekends. To be perfectly honest, this is what it’s all about — having a job that gives me enough free time to do what I want.
4. You and the Hobgoblin have such a lovely relationship. What’s your secret? Oh, this is a hard one! The truth is I don’t have a secret. Or maybe the real truth is that Hobgoblin is remarkably patient. I think most people who don’t live with me think I’m a nice person, but I’m often not — Hobgoblin (and my mother) could tell you the real truth, if they wanted to. But Hobgoblin and I have a wonderful time riding together and hiking together and reading together. We like to spend our time in the same way. Neither of us are terribly social, so most evenings you’ll find us up in our studies reading and blogging, on occasion watching a movie. I find it interesting that we don’t tend to read the same books — he’s got his, and I’ve got mine, and although most of them share the same shelves, it’s clear which ones belong to whom. But that keeps things interesting, I suppose — we can’t be exactly alike, after all.
5. If you were stranded on a desert island with two historical figures of your choice, who would you take and why? Another hard one! I suppose I could pick people who might be useful on a desert island — people who could help me build a shelter, maybe, or who could hunt for food. But I’d prefer to think of this is a more idyllic desert island, and so I’ll consider who I’d want for company. First, I’d pick Dorothy Wordsworth, I think, who would be wonderful to go on walks with. We’d explore the entire island, and make observations about the landscape the whole way. And then — I’ll stick to my favorite time period — Samuel Johnson. We’d have scintillating conversations with that great talker once we returned to our camp.
That was fun! Below are the directions; let me know in a comment if you’d like me to interview you.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE INTERVIEW MEME
1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Please make sure I have your email address.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment, asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.