My summer came to an abrupt end on Monday, when Shimer College held its annual all-staff meeting — which was followed by two days of faculty meetings. In this brief window before classes start up next week, it seemed appropriate to reflect on this past summer, which was one of the most intellectually fruitful of my life. The main feature was a faculty seminar at the University of Chicago, hosted by Eric Santner under the auspices of DAAD. I spent the weeks leading up to it reading a huge amount of Marx and Freud in German, and the Freud reading continued, to the point where it took on nearly addictive qualities.
The seminar was very fruitful in a lot of ways — getting to see how a senior scholar thinks through his next writing project, seeing what my peers were working on, getting to present my work to a diverse interdisciplinary audience — but for me the biggest benefit by far was being induced to carry out a sustained, intensive study of Freud. This in turn proved surprisingly helpful for formulating my devil project, as well as the final volume of my pop culture trilogy, Creepiness. In the weeks after the seminar, I wrote a draft introduction for both projects. Both will require significant revision, but it felt amazing to get a concrete start on both after talking about them for such a long time. I hope to be able to finish Creepiness over the course of the school year and write at least one further chapter of the devil book to set myself up for next summer.
Two other notable achievements: I rewatched all of Mad Men (including the most recent season) and I finally bought a much-needed bookshelf and imposed some kind of order on my books for the first time in over three years. We also took a trip to St. Louis, where we thoroughly explored the City Museum with all the gusto of young children — and all the muscle soreness of old people.
Now I’m finishing up on my preparations for my long-planned elective on Heidegger’s Being and Time (PDF syllabus) and for Humanities 1: Art and Music (PDF syllabus). I plan to put my newly refurbished German skills to use reading Sein und Zeit alongsideside my course and to use Hum 1 as a pretext to make more visits to the Art Institute, the symphony, and the opera.
What about you, dear readers? How did you spend your summer vacations?