This summer two factors — namely, continuing to get a paycheck and not yet being on the tenure track — have combined to give me remarkable freedom. The only thing that I really have to do is develop the Global Christianity course, which will take significant work but won’t require the whole summer by a longshot. I am probably also reaching the point of diminishing returns when it comes to pre-tenure-track publishing, given the two books coming out next year. I do have a handful of article ideas that I could probably work up relatively quickly, and I would like to do one just to show, as my advisor says, that I haven’t retired.
For the most part, though, this is my first major opportunity to do concentrated reading since I finished my exams. I’m trying to let my interests guide me and so am not setting myself a strict list — but I do know that I want to do further research in Judaism, and for that I’m starting with a list of recommendations Bruce gave me when I was trying to figure out how to develop courses in the area. I’m hoping to go through some 2nd Temple stuff as well, as time allows, primarily the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.
Aside from the global Christianity stuff, I’d also like to get into postcolonial theory (which will help for that course and for doing the feminist theology course again next year) and just generally “catch up” on things that I’ve been neglecting. This summer might actually see me engaging with Deleuze, for example, and I’ve also picked up a copy of the oft-mentioned Hegel Contra Sociology by Gillian Rose. The books that I currently have bookmarks in are Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism and The Messianic Idea in Judaism (the latter of which I put on hold until I finish the former, because nearly all the essays I have left are on Hasidism, which I didn’t know very much about) and Talal Asad’s Formations of the Secular.
I also want to work on my Greek, primarily by working my way through the authentic letters of Paul. I’ve done them roughly in reverse order of length, so at this point I’ve gone through 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon, and I’ve started 2 Corinthians. I’m hoping to go over all of them at least twice, and then perhaps I’ll start going through the rest of the NT, too. I already feel more confident on Greek from doing it nearly every day, but at some point I think I’ll need to go through a grammar again to really solidify everything.
So overall, viewed from a career perspective, I’m taking advantage of this limbo period to really solidify language skills and engage with new bodies of literature, which will provide a firmer foundation for future research and teaching. From a human perspective, I’m enjoying having a chance to just read.