On Research Leave

As of tomorrow, I will be on research leave. I will not have to teach again until the end of September. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching. But the idea of not having to write any lectures or do any lesson prep this semester fills me with an enormous feeling of freedom.

I can structure my own time around my own research projects, do some archival trips and just get on with my writing. Hang on, that is minus the PG supervision I still have to do, and organising that workshop at the beginning of May, a few meetings here and there, giving that paper in France, editing that book, and finishing the two books I am still editing at the moment. Oh, and then I have to apply for external funding to make sure I can still do the necessary research trips next year. There’s also the planning for the next academic year to think about, the reading group and the staff seminar – and all the conferences I meant to go to.

Well, ok, so research leave means doing the usual without the official teaching load. That’s still a good deal, isn’t it?

I can take my laptop and move my office to my favourite café. I can work late into the night and don’t have to get up early in the mornings, I can work from home in my pyjamas, and I can leave all those gazillions of emails unread and unanswered. Click, delete! Hm, not the important ones though, not the ones from the publisher or from the colleagues I’m collaborating with on projects, not the ones from the research office or anything relating to the REF, and not the ones from students, who don’t know I’m on leave. But that’s what the out-of-office reply option in my email is for, isn’t? At least I don’t have to check my email several times a day, and people won’t expect to get a speedy response.

If I go into my office because I’ve got a bigger computer screen and most of my books and files there, I have to make sure nobody sees me. I will keep the light switched off, so nobody can see it through the little window in my door. I’ll put my headphones on and turn up the music on Youtube, so I can’t hear them knocking. The ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign usually doesn’t work, because it only alerts colleagues to the fact I’m in, and locking the door might look like I’m a sociophobe, so clearly not the way to go (although that might already be too late).

In any case, to mark the special occasion, I’ve had my hair dyed (dark with pink highlights, if you must know), and I’m considering a new pair of glasses too. Come to think of it, I should make that shades.  And how much is that invisible cloak?



By thehistorywoman

Historian & journalist.

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