September 2020 Update

What has been going on with me in the last year or so, and what’s coming up:

  • Still writing my dissertation. Progress is slow, but life is hard and busy. The dissertation journals fell by the wayside (predictably) early in the process, but I am interested in getting them going again. One reason for this is that I have been using Twitter more to share interesting things I am working on, so if you haven’t lately, check it out. Although beware, I also post dumb stuff there too.
  • Adjuncting at UNC Asheville. I am teaching a class called “The Ancient World” in the Humanities Program. Fortunately I was able to teach fully online this semester. I love teaching this class and love my students. One of the exciting things we are doing this semester is building a class wiki at Wikiversity. Once it is more fleshed out, I’ll share a link.
  • Also at UNC Asheville, I have contributed introductions to the Egyptian Teaching of Amenemope and the Chester Beatty love songs. They are part of a new version of the course reader which is very exciting. Once those are published I’ll share them here.
  • Teaching for the Oriental Institute:
    • Currently giving a 6-week course on Jewish Scripts Throughout History
    • In May-June, gave a 6-week course on Megiddo
  • I’ve given three online lectures for the Oriental Institute this summer. The most recent, “Who Are The Samaritans?” has not been made available on YouTube (there were technical issues), but you can watch the other two. They are:
  • I was set to give my paper “The Interface of Public and Private in Demotic Literature: A Case Study from P. Spiegelberg” to the annual meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt in Toronto last May, but the conference was cancelled and I was not able to get it together enough to present it in the alternate online venue….alas.
  • I read a paper “Genre Matters: Jonah as Novella” at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion annual conference in Athens, GA in February…just two weeks before everything shut down. It was fun driving to Athens and checking out U of Georgia. They also have a Raising Cane’s there.
  • I’m giving several papers this Fall at the online versions of two conferences:
    • For ASOR 2020, for the panel “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Collapse, Resilience, and Resistance in the Ancient Near East,” I’m giving a paper entitled “Between the Cosmopolitan and the Vernacular: Private Literature in the Post-Iron Age Southeastern Mediterranean.” Here’s the abstract.
    • For SBL 2020, I’m giving two papers:
      • For the Egyptology and Ancient Israel open session, I’m giving a paper entitled “When Storytelling Becomes Canonical: Changing Fortunes of the Novella in Hellenistic and Roman Judea and Egypt.” Here’s the abstract.
      • For the joint session of Egyptology and Ancient Israel and Prophetic Texts and their Ancient Contexts, I’m giving an invited paper entitled “Finding God in Nineveh: A Case Study in Judean and Egyptian Prophetic Imagination.” Here’s the abstract. These papers are going to be published in a volume, so keep an eye out for the written/publishable version of the paper here.
    • Clearly I need to break the habit of entitling conference papers “[Catchy phrase]: [More detailed description]”!
  • I never shared the publication of a book review I wrote on Claudia Suhr’s Die altägyptische Ich-Erzählung (2016) for the Review of Biblical Literature. You can find it here. Look out for another review in RBL from me next year on the edited volume Narrative: Geschichte-Mythos-Repäsentation (2019).

On a personal note. We are now living with family on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We left our previous residence outside of Asheville, NC when the pandemic hit, where we had been living since August 2018, and where I was trying to finish my dissertation while adjuncting at UNC Asheville. Life has changed a lot for us, but me, my partner, and our two girls are grateful to be able to spend so much time together. I have a nice place to work, and am able to support us by teaching online and doing other work. I’m trying to finish writing so I can apply for jobs. Who knows what the future holds for us. Here’s a picture I took from our front porch:

img_20200818_195131

Dissertation journal (day 6)

Quick update this evening. I’m preparing to make a drive to Duke tomorrow (there and back, 6 1/2 hr round trip), hopefully going to leave by 6 am. I’ve got a list of books to get and I already put in requests for storage retrieval for a handful. The goal is to fill out my Jonah commentaries and monographs, and to look through a lot of reference materials. This should be the only trip I’ll need for the Jonah chapter.

I was at UNCA today picking up some books at the library and wrote there for 4 or 5 hours. The writing has been slow, but towards the end of my library stay it started to pick up. I’m going to lose some writing ground this week, but should be back to full speed Wednesday.

Here are the problems I am working through right now:

  1. How to talk about irony in terms of plot and sequences of events, especially when taking the old fashioned structuralist approach (which I find helpful for the issue of events)?
  2. How to describe the character of Yahweh in Jonah. My working hypothesis is that his actions are like those of a heroic lover who is trying to win over a beloved.
  3. The idea of “overdetermination” in narrative. In particular, why Jonah has the sailors discover that Jonah is to blame through divination.

I hope I’m not getting sick…

Today’s Word Count
~500…erased a lot

Dissertation journal (day 5)

Just a quick update tonight. Today was Saturday and it was family day. Went to the gym, had a picnic at the playground and played for a while, and went by the library. Tonight I read some theory (Culler, Structural Poetics) and got some good ideas for the chapter, so I wrote just a little bit. Went to bed at 11 but couldn’t sleep, so I’m back at it. I’ve written over 18,000 words in under 2 months, and the pace should pick up a bit. This is the kind of thing where, I know everyone is pulling for me and wants me to he successful (get a good job), but I feel like I’m writing to prove everyone wrong about me and that I’m actually doing something great. I don’t feel like I am contributing something small and ultimately not very meaningful. I believe in this a lot and think that nobody else can do what I can do. It only took me 8 years to get to this point…

Today’s Music

Miles Davis, On the Corner

Dissertation Journal (day 4)

OK at it again, and Friday night to boot! Not moving along as fast I would have liked, am still stuck in the earlier parts of Jonah 1. Not quite spinning my wheels, however. Got sidetracked today with some text criticism and looking up manuscript images online. I love doing that, and its a good thing the Friedberg Geniza site wasn’t working, because I was about ready to come through about 30 fragments of Jonah. This was a good week of work, which really got underway Tuesday (tied up loose ends Monday). I feel a real drive to keep working (which is why I’m sitting here Friday night at 12:02 AM). Nothing has made me seriously doubt the current approach I am taking (how to analyze the plot of Jonah), although I do worry about over-reading. But I’m writing so much that there will be plenty of room to cut things back later and simplify.

Today’s Hours Worked
~8 (the last two this evening were pretty slow…still trying to break that 10 hr mark!)

Today’s Word Count
1,032 (thought I would write more, but had a few substantial footnotes)

Today’s Texts
Jonah 1:4-6

Today’s Books and Articles
Kennicott and de Rossi’s catalogues of MS variants
Hendel, Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible 
Tov, Textual Criticism
Magonet, Form and Meaning (Jonah studies)

Today’s Music (LPs)
Boards of Canada, Geogaddi
Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica (Saoirse saw the cover when she got home from school and it gave her the heebie jeebies)